Eternal Spring is Canada’s official submission in the Oscar race for Best International Feature. Directed by Jason Loftus, the documentary offers a riveting account of Chinese artist Daxiong as he recalls his participation in hijacking a TV station in 2002 to correct the message about Falun Gong. Telefilm Canada announced the selection of Eternal Spring in a press conference today. The film was selected by a pan-Canadian committee chaired by Telefilm Canada. (Telefilm does not have a vote.) Eternal Spring was selected from a pool of 16 submissions.
Eternal Spring features extended animated sequences by Daxiong as he recreates the visuals for the story through his artistic vision. Since moving to North America, Daxiong has established himself as an artistic force working on comics for Justice League and Star Wars.
A Historic Selection
Eternal Spring marks a historic selection in Canada’s profile with the Academy Awards. Despite having one of the richest histories in documentary, Canada has never submitted a non-fiction film until today’s announcement. Eternal Spring is also the first film submitted by Canada to feature a significant portion of animation and the first Mandarin production. Loftus said that he hopes the recognition helps shine a light on Canada’s documentary scene, as well as upon artists working in animation. “This film is a product of Canadian diversity,” said Loftus, who was joined by Eternal Spring producer Yvan Pinard and producer/partner Masha Loftus. “It shows how art can bring us a greater understanding of one another and great catharsis.”
“Eternal Spring shows where Canadian stories are going,” added Telefilm Canada’s outgoing executive director Christa Dickenson, who added that Loftus’s response to the news of Eternal Spring’s selection was one of the most memorable calls she’s made. “Jason was at an absolute loss for words.” (Listen to his reaction below.)
Eternal Spring (長春) has been selected as Canada's submission for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards!
— Telefilm Canada (@Telefilm_Canada) August 24, 2022
Docs in the Race
Documentaries have traditionally struggled to gain recognition in the international race, but have seen a breakthrough in recent years beginning with the nomination for Rithy Pahn’s 2013 animated doc The Missing Picture. In the Oscar races for 2019 and 2020, Honeyland (North Macedonia), and Collective (Romania) both received nominations for Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature. This year, the animated documentary Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen earned a historic trifecta of nominations, scoring citations for Best Documentary, Best Animated Feature, and Best International Feature as Denmark’s submission. The selection could bring Eternal Spring additional attention from the documentary and animation branches.
Eternal Spring premiered to great acclaim at Thessaloniki earlier this year where it won an Audience Award and the Human Values Award for Best Film. It had its North American premiere at Hot Docs where it won the Rogers Audience Award as the top Canadian feature and the Audience Award as the overall festival favourite. Loftus hopes the platform provided by the Oscar selection will allow Eternal Spring to connect with even more audiences as it has on the festival circuit. “The individuals in the film have endured so much to tell their stories, and we felt it was worth it to take that risk in bringing their story to the screen,” said Loftus.
Eternal Spring opens theatrically in Canada on September 23. To date, seven Canadian films have been nominated for Best International Feature. Only one Canadian film, Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions, has ever won.