Walter Salles' Behind The Sun, Cannes Camera d'Or winner Atanarjuat The Fast Runner and epic cricketing film Lagaan have joined an increasingly promising line-up as India, Canada and four Latin American countries unveiled their Oscar hopefuls.
Japan picked the less well-known film Go, a drama by Yukisada Isao about a boy who is both Japanese and Korean, as its contender for the foreign-language Oscar.
The Canadian institute said that the choice of Zacharias Kunuk's Atanarjuat, the first ever Inuit-language film submitted for consideration, had been a "near unanimous" choice. It was recently named best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Amit Khanna, president of the All India Film Producers' Chamber told Screen International, "Every single panelist voted for Lagaan, since they felt this was a truly Indian film." That meant disappointment for Monsoon Wedding, Gadar, Asoka, Aks, Ek Rishta, Bavandar, Bariwali, Pandavan Bhumi and Zubeida. But Lagaan's invitiation to Sundance could also position it well for an Oscar run.
Argentina picked local blockbuster El Hijo De La Novia by Juan Jose Campanella while Chile chose Taxi Para Tres by Orlando Lubbert, the surprise winner of the Concha de Oro at San Sebastian in September. Venezuela picked Una Casa Con Vista Al Mar by Alberto Arvelo.
Behind The Sun (Abril Despedacado) is Salles' second film to have a shot at the foreign-language prize. In 1999 his Central Station lost to Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful. Its producer Arthur Cohn is already a seven times an Oscar winner.
Campanella's tragi-comedy El Hijo De La Novia upset another Oscar contender in favourite, La Cienaga. Although the latter took home several international awards including from Berlin, it did not fare well at the local box office. Chile's Taxi Para Tres also upset another strong rival, La Fiebre Del Loco by Andres Wood which participated in Venice.
Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently said that documentation for the foreign-language award needed to have been submitted by Nov 1, prints are not required to be delivered before Nov 15. That appears to give a time for latecomers, Mexico, Italy and Spain. Spain has pre-selected three semi-finalists and will pick a winner among Penelope Cruz-vehicle No News From God (Sin Noticias De Dios), erotic melodrama Sex And Lucia (Lucia Y El Sexo) and period drama Juana La Loca on Nov 12.
Previously announced films include:
Denmark: Italian For Beginners
Sweden: Jalla! Jalla!
Australia: La Spagnola
Bosnia: No Man's Land
Czech Rep: Dark Blue World
Finland: The River
Germany: Das Experiment