71 countries vie for foreign-film Oscar

A record 71 countries have entered the race for a best foreign language film Oscar. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the record number of contenders, which includes the first-ever entry from Kenya: Nairobi Half Life, directed by David (Tosh) Gitonga. The contenders include a few expected titles, such as Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning end-of-life drama Amour (submitted by Austria) and South Korean director Kim Ki-duk's mother-son tale Pieta, which won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival.

Canada's submission is Kim Nguyen's War Witch, about the horrors faced by a young African girl forced into the life of a child soldier.

Other titles were chosen after making a splash on the international film festival circuit, including:

Pablo Larrain's No, which will represent Chile.
Chen Kaige's Caught in the Web, which will represent China.
Nikolaj Arcel's A Royal Affair, which will represent Denmark.
Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's The Intouchables, which will represent France.
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's Kon-Tiki, which will represent Norway.
Jun Robles Lana's Bwakaw, which will represent Philippines.
Pablo Berger's Blancanieves, which will represent Spain.

Also in contention are films from established directors such as Lasse Hallstrom (The Hypnotist, submitted by Sweden) and Cristian Mungiu (Beyond the Hills, submitted by Romania).

As expected, Iran withheld its submission. In September, the Iranian cultural minister said his country is boycotting the 2013 Oscars to protest against the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims made in the U.S. The critically acclaimed Iranian film A Separation won the foreign language film Oscar in February 2012.

The 71 submissions will be whittled down to a handful of finalists to be unveiled on Jan. 10, 2013. The 85th Academy Awards telecast follows on Feb. 24, hosted at the Hollywood & Highland Center by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.


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