Oscars: Switzerland Picks Period Drama ‘Thunder’ as International Feature Submission

Switzerland has picked Thunder, the feature film debut of director Carmen Jaquier, as its official contender for the 2024 Oscars in the best international feature category.

Thunder premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and had a successful festival run, screening at the San Sebastian, Busan, Zurich and Locarno film festivals, among others. Set in a small Swiss village in 1900, the period drama follow 17-year-old Elisabeth, played by French actress Lilith Grasmug, who returns home from her convent after learning of her sister’s mysterious death. Reconnecting with three of her childhood friends, she begins to see how her religious faith and her growing sense of sexuality are intertwined.

“Set in an archaic mountain scenery, liberation and sisterhood are at the center of this timely feminist period film,” the Swiss selection committee said in a statement explaining their choice. “Carmen Jaquier’s uniquely sensual first feature skillfully explores sexuality and faith and captivates with its nuanced mise-en-scène and evocative imagery.”

Thunder is produced by Joëlle Bertossa and Flavia Zanon of Geneva’s Close Up Films in co-production with RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. WTFilms are handling international sales.

The film has already had a successful run in Swiss cinemas via Sister Distribution and has sold to several territories, including to Axia Films in Canada, La 25ème Heure for France/Benelux, and HBO for Eastern Europe. Dekanalog has domestic rights.

“We are thrilled to bring Thunder, Carmen Jaquier’s sumptuous tale of turn of the 20th century teenage faith and desire to North American audiences,” said Dekanalog’s Lysa Le.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the films on the 2024 Oscar shortlist on Dec. 21. The five nominees will be announced Jan. 23, 2024. The 95th Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 10, 2024.

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