Acclaimed films miss out on foreign-Oscar bid
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar has stirred up some international intrigue.
Some of 2007's most acclaimed international films will not be competing for the foreign-language prize at the Academy Awards next month.
Among the rejected movies are the Romanian abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," which won the top Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and the animated French movie "Persepolis," which won a jury prize at Cannes.
Instead, organizers said on Tuesday that films including the Holocaust-related dramas "The Counterfeiters" from Austria and "Katyn" from Poland will compete for the Oscar on February 24. Joining them are the Israeli war drama "Beaufort," Kazakhstan's Genghis Khan biopic "Mongol" and Russia's "12," a loose remake of "12 Angry Men."
Each country is allowed to submit one film for consideration. Local film bodies in a record 63 countries, from Argentina to Vietnam, accepted the offer this year.
That number was whittled to nine this month by a special Academy committee. Four were dropped after committee members watched them again. They were Brazil's "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation," Canada's "Days of Darkness," Italy's "The Unknown" and Serbia's "The Trap."
But at least they got that far. "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and "Persepolis" failed to survive the first culling, as did the Spanish horror film "The Orphanage," one of the few submissions that has actually played in U.S. movie theaters.
The omission of "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" was "one of the stupidest things that I've ever seen happen," said Rolling Stone magazine critic Peter Travers.
"Persepolis" co-director Marjane Satrapi said she lost hope of getting any Oscar attention after the foreign-language snub and was relieved that her coming-of-age story set against the Iranian revolution was noted for animated picture.
Others were rejected long ago. The Academy disqualified Israel's original submission "The Band's Visit" because there was too much English dialogue. It also decreed that Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" did not have enough Taiwanese talent.
France, faced with an abundance of choices, opted for "Persepolis" over such strong entrants as "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "La Vie en Rose."
"Diving Bell" was nominated in four categories, including best director for American artist Julian Schnabel, while "La Vie" picked up three nominations, including best actress for Marion Cotillard.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky's "The Counterfeiters" is the true story of concentration camp prisoners forced to print millions of dollars' worth of phony currency as part of a Nazi scheme to ruin Allied economies.
"Beaufort," from director Joseph Cedar, revolves around the Israeli army's 2000 evacuation of the historic stone fortress of the same name in southern Lebanon.
Director Sergei Bodrov's "Mongol" recounts the early life of Genghis Khan, with the infamous conqueror played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano.
"Katyn," a box office smash from Poland's most famous director, Andrzej Wajda, revolves around the massacre of the Polish officer corps by the Soviets in 1940 and subsequent cover-up.
"12," from Nikita Mikhalkov, was inspired by Sidney Lumet's 1957 jury drama "12 Angry Men."
(Editing by John O'Callaghan)