In a remarkable move, Belgian director Stijn Coninx has decided to change the ending of his new film Verder Dan De Maan (Sea Of Silence), the Belgian submission for the foreign-language Oscar - even though the submission deadline has already passed. The film was screened at the recent Dutch Filmfestival in Utrecht, where after some mixed reactions Coninx opted for a new ending, that will be, according to the director, more fitting for the story.

Stijn Coninx told from the Filmfestival in Gent: "After the screening in Utrecht, my sales agent, Celluloid Dreams, suggested the change. My producer, Els Vandervorst and I agreed. At that time there were only a few prints of the film available anyway. I removed four minutes so the ending is more compact with less repeats. There will be no problem with the Oscars, because the new, shortened version will run in the theatres in Belgium and the Netherlands and this is according to the rules of the Academy. The new version will also be presented this week at the market in New York''.

Sea Of Silence, a European co-production set up by the Dutch production company Isabella Films, was supposed to get a release on October 30 in Holland. Distributor Warner Bros. decided yesterday to postpone the premier till November 27.

The film, headed by Johanna Ter Steege, Huub Stapel and Neeltje De Vries, tells the story of a nine-year old girl who witnesses some drastic changes in the Netherlands during the sixties. In 1992 Coninx got an Oscar nomination for Daens, a portrait of a Belgium priest.