Slovakia’s Oscar entry ‘Eva Nova’ features standout performance by Emilia Vasaryova

Slovakia is looking to make the Foreign Language Film Oscar short list for the first time with “Eva Nová,” the debut feature film by Marko Skop starring Emília Vásáryová. “Eva Nová” tells the story of a former actress and diva, Eva, who returns home from rehab hoping to reunite with her son after abandoning him for her career and addiction.

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“Eva Nová” made its international premiere in 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Discovery section. It was also the big winner at the Sun in Net Awards, Slovakia’s biggest film ceremony, taking home Best Movie, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress. That latter award went to Vásáryová, a Slovak star of stage and screen, whose performance is a true tour de force.

Vásáryová plays the film’s titular character with grace and honor. The film’s gaze, handled meticulously by cinematographer Jan Melis, keeps a close watch on Vásáryová’s face as she whips between hope, disappointment and embarrassment within single scenes. As anti-hero, Eva is a character of immense heartache and regret, but also strength and resilience, all of which provide Vásáryová and director Skop the chance to showcase her star quality.

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Slovakia has submitted for Oscar consideration since 1993, but has yet to make the short list of nine. Before Czechoslovakia split into the independent countries Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, it had reaped six Oscar nominations including two wins in 1965 (“The Shop on Main Street”) and 1967 (“Closely Watched Trains”).

Slovakia’s hopes at a nomination are encouraged by a recent trend among the committe. In both of the last two years two countries have been nominated for the first time: last year Jordan (“Theeb”) and Colombia (“Embrace of the Serpent”) and in 2014 Mauritania (“Timbuktu”) and Estonia (“Tangerines”) both reaped their first bids. And in 2013 Cambodia was nominated for the first time with “The Missing Picture.”

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