Corpus Christi, a controversial Polish production about a young man pretending to be a priest in a small village in southern Poland, has been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. 

The film will compete for a nomination in the best international feature film category with nine others, including Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory,  Czech film The Painted Bird, based on a novel by Polish writer Jerzy Kosiński, and the South Korean Parasite.

Corpus Christi, directed by Jan Komasa, with an original screenplay by Mateusz Pacewicz, tells a story based on true events. After a conditional release from a juvenile prison, 20-year old Daniel decides to become a priest.

Because of his criminal record, he cannot enter an official priestly order, and so he travels to a small village in southern Poland, where – upon the absence of the local priest – he takes his place. 

Members of the Academy will nominate five out of ten shortlisted films, and announce the winner during the ceremony on 9 February. Until now, only one Polish production has won an Oscar for the best foreign film. Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida, a film about a trainee nun discovering her Jewish roots and her family’s history in 1962 Poland, won the award in 2015.

Other Polish nominees have included Andrzej Wajda’s Katyń, Man of Iron, The Maids of Wilko and Land of Promise, Agnieszka Holland’s Angry Harvest, and Pawlikowski’s most recent film, Cold War. Polish director Roman Polański has also won the best director Oscar for The Pianist.

Komasa’s Corpus Christi has stirred a heated debate on the role of the Catholic church and on the inner divisions of Polish society. It has been seen by over a million viewers in Poland.

The films shortlisted for the nomination as the best international feature are:

  1. Czech Republic, The Painted Bird (dir. Václav Marhoul)
  2. Estonia, Truth and Justice (dir. Tanel Toom)
  3. France, Les Misérables (dir. Ladj Ly)
  4. Hungary, Those Who Remained (dir. Barnabás Tóth)
  5. North Macedonia, Honeyland (dir. Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)
  6. Poland, Corpus Christi (dir. Jan Komasa)
  7. Russia, Beanpole (dir. Kantemir Balagov)
  8. Senegal, Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)
  9. South Korea, Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
  10. Spain, Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

Main image credit: Kino Świat/press kit

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