Warwick Thornton’s Samson & Delilah is Australia’s official entry in the best foreign-language film category of the 82nd Academy Awards.

The language spoken in writer/director Thornton’s moving depiction of life in desert Australia from the point of view of two teens is predominantly Warlpiri, one of the many indigenous languages of Australia. How little the character of Samson speaks has given the film a reputation for having hardly any dialogue but this is an exaggeration.

It is unusual for Australia to have any films eligible in this category but this year there were two. Jonathan auf der Heide’s Van Diemen’s Land, a drama that features escaped Irish convicts in the island state of Tasmaniataking extreme measures to survive, is principally in Gaelic.

The decision to go with the indigenous drama was made by committee and administered by the country’s principal government agency, Screen Australia.

Samson & Delilah is the critical hit of the year. First shown at the Adelaide Film Festival in February, it won the Camera d’Or in Cannes in May. The low-budget film is also the box office hit of the year, although not for much longer.

Samson & Delilah has been in cinemas since May 7 and has grossed $2.78m (A$3.17m) for distributors Paramount, Transmission and Footprint, but in another week or two, will be overtaken by Dean Murphy’s Charlie & Boots, starring Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) and Shane Jacobson (Kenny) as a bereaved father and son on a road trip.

The comedy drama has grossed $2.6m (A$2.96m) since September 3 for Paramount and Transmission and last weekend, its fourth, took $277,000 (A$304,000) over four days from 154 screens.

Last weekend was the first in cinemas for Van Diemen’s Land and it grossed $35,000 (A$40,000) for Madman and, being on only nine screens, notched up a screen average of $3,900 ($4,440).

The 82nd Academy Award nominations will be announced on February 2, 2010, and the presentation will be on March 7 US time.