Swiss director Markus Imhoof at the 2018 Berlinale. Photo: John Macdougall/AFP.
Director Markus Imhoof's refugee drama will compete with other films for a place on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' shortlist for the coveted prize.
The documentary follows the current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, starting from the point of view of a 14-year-old refugee girl adopted by the director's family during World War II.
"Markus Imhoof has produced an engaging documentary, which deals with today's global humanitarian crisis by linking it with his personal story. Going beyond the images that travel around the world every day, 'Eldorado' is a shocking drama that cannot be overlooked," the five-person Swiss jury said in a statement clarifying its selection.
Imhoof's film recently screened at Locarno Festival and premiered at the 2018 Berlinale in Germany's capital Berlin, where it received a special mention in the Amnesty International Film Prize.
The film has been widely praised by critics. "Markus Imhoof’s Eldorado is a deeply felt documentary essay on Europe’s refugee question," wrote
Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.
"In the sincerely felt 'Eldorado' veteran Swiss filmmaker Markus Imhoof easily staves off “just another refugee doc” shrugs with the unusual personal scope of his study," wrote Variety in a review
Imhoof's film intercuts his own family's adopting of an Italian refugee girl during World War II with stories of migrants who have undertaken the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa to reach Europe. The director spent a year on rescue ships and in migrant camps to make the film.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' shortlist for the Best Foreign Film Oscar will be announced on January 19th, 2019. The Oscars ceremony will take place in the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on February 24th next year.