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Television, Good Road enter Oscar race

India has selected Gyan Correa’s The Good Road as its entry for the best foreign-language film category of the Academy Awards, while Bangladesh has submitted Mostofa S. Farooki’s Television.

The Indian selection came as a surprise as Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox had appeared to be a frontrunner in recent months. Warmly received at this year’s Cannes and Telluride film festivals, Batra’s Mumbai-set love story has been sold widely by sales agent The Match Factory and has a US distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, on board.

Produced by the National Film Development Corp (NFDC), the Gujarati-language The Good Road tells the story of three sets of people travelling through the Kachchh region of Gujarat. The cast includes Sonali Kulkarni and Ajay Gehi, while technical talent includes Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty and DoP Amitabha Singh.

The film was selected by a committee appointed by the Film Federation of India (FFI), which was headed by Bengali filmmaker Gautam Ghose.

Speaking of India’s submission, NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta said: “I am delighted that our film The Good Road has emerged from a competitive year as the official entry to the 2013 Oscars. Both The Good Road and much-loved The Lunchbox are projects NFDC has supported since their respective script stages, while another shortlisted contender, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, we have been associated with as producers.”

Meanwhile, Farooki’s Television was selected by the Bangladesh Federation of Film Societies, headed by Habibur Rahman.

The film revolves around the head of a Bangladeshi village who forbids his villagers from watching television, but eventually comes to realise that it has its uses. After receiving its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival last October, the film played widely at festivals around the world and won a special jury mention in Dubai International Film Festival’s Muhr Asia-Africa competition.

Pakistan had previously announced its Academy Award submission, Zinda Bhaag, marking the first film the country has put forward in 50 years. Directed by Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, the comedy thriller stars Naseeruddin Shah, Amna Ilyas and Khurram Patras.

The Pakistan selection committee was headed by documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy who won an Academy Award for best short documentary for Saving Face in 2012.

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