Cao Hamburger's The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (O Ano Em Que Meus Pais Sairam De Ferias) is Brazil's entry for the foreign language film Oscar.

The decision, announced today in Rio de Janeiro, came as a surprise since the controversial Elite Squad was considered the favorite for its dark portrait of Brazilian police force.

But the panel of six filmmakers and film critics, chosen by the Ministry of Culture, preferred the drama of a boy who is left alone while his parents are persecuted by the Brazilian dictatorship in the 70's.

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation was the last Brazilian film to compete at a major international film festival - this year, in Berlin. This $3.5m production received the audience award for best fiction last year at Rio International Film Festival, whose 9th edition runs until October 4th.

Recently, City Lights Pictures acquired US rights to the film, that has already been sold to more than 20 countries, including Canada, France, Italy and Spain.

Produced by Gullane Filmes, a company based in Sao Paulo, The Year follows the misadventures of a boy who is left with his grandfather in a Jewish/Italian neighbourhood in 1970. While he waits for his parents to return, his only consolation is to watch the Brazilian games during the World Cup. The country's successful performance in the competition overshadowed all the torture, jailing and murder of political prisoners which took place in Brazil at that time.

The last Brazilian film to get nominated for the foreign language Oscar was Walter Salles's Central Station (Central do Brasil) in 1999, when the winner was Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful.