(Metro Communications, Movie Plus)

A last-minute replacement for the popular The Band's Visit, which had too much English dialogue for Academy regulations, Beaufort has proved as worthy a contender and is the first Israeli film since 1984's Beyond The Walls to score a best foreign-language Oscar nod.

Based on the novel by Ron Leshem, Beaufort tells the story of the last Israeli stronghold in Lebanon, before forces were pulled out in 2000.

Directed by Joseph Cedar, the production was one of the most complex Israel has seen, with a great deal of work going into creating the film's claustrophobic sets.

With a cast made up of some of the most promising young Israeli stage and TV actors, the film was unveiled last year in Berlin where it picked up the best director Silver Bear. Kino International released the film in the US.


MONGOL (Kazakhstan)

(Eurasia Film)

A dazzling historical epic about the young Genghis Khan, Mongol explores the legendary ruler's rise to power across the vast landscapes of Central Asia.

Directed by Sergei Bodrov (Prisoner Of The Mountains) the film had its world premiere at Toronto last year and also screened at the Rome Film Fest. Bodrov wrote the film with Arif Aliyev, based on scholarly accounts.

Sales agent Beta Film has sold a raft of territories including The Works for the UK and Hopscotch for Australia/New Zealand and Picturehouse for North America, where it will open this summer.

The film took $2.7m on its opening weekend in Russia in September and has now taken $6.5m. A Kazakhstan-Russia-Germany co-production, Mongol's foreign-language nomination is a first for Kazakhstan.

The Counterfeiters


(Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion)

After its world premiere in Competition at last year's Berlinale, The Counterfeiters became a firm favourite on the international festival circuit.

It screened at Telluride and Toronto, and picked up prizes at the Flanders film festival in Ghent, Abu Dhabi and Valladolid. The film also picked up seven nominations for the 2007 German Film Awards.

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, the Second World War drama tells the story of a Nazi counterfeiting operation. It is the second film by Ruzowitzky to be entered as Austria's contender for the foreign-language Oscar following 1988's Die Siebtelbauern.

Beta Cinema has sold the German-Austrian co-production to more than 60 territories. Metrodome released the film in the UK on 60 prints last October, while Picturehouse is planning to open the film in the US in June.



12 (Russia)

(Three T)

Nikita Mikhalkov transplants Sidney Lumet's classic jury-room drama, 12 Angry Men, to post-communist Russia. An all-male jury is called upon to decide whether a Chechen boy is guilty of murdering his adoptive father but their initial certainty starts to fade during the course of their deliberations.

The film premiered in competition at the Venice film festival last year, where Mikhalkov was given a special Lion for overall work. According to the jury, 12 was confirmation of the director's 'mastery in exploring and revealing to us, with great humanity and emotion, the complexity of existence.'

The film, which last month opened Emir Kusturica's first Kustendorf film festival, also won five prizes at Russia's Golden Eagle awards in January, including film and director. The film opened in Russia in September and has so far taken $6.8m.


KATYN (Poland)

(Akson Studio)

When word emerged in 2004 that Andrzej Wajda was developing Katyn, it was clear the film would be the director's most personal. Katyn examines the 1940 massacre of some 20,000 Polish prisoners of war, including Wajda's own father, by Soviet troops.

Wajda started filming in October 2006. The $5.8m film drew attention to a new fund established by the Polish Film Institute, which contributed $2m to Katyn's budget.

The film world-premiered last year at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, where audiences were reduced to a stunned silence.

'Usually, the director feels satisfied when the audience clap their hands, having seen his picture. In this particular case the silence is much more eloquent, and bespeaks how profoundly the audience experienced what they had seen on the big screen,' Wajda said.

Days after the premiere, Poland chose the film as its Oscar submission. In a fit of national pride, Poland's defence minister suggested he would order all members of the country's armed forces to see the film.

'Katyn still remains an unhealed wound of Polish history, a secret story which has been told for the first time on screen in my film,' Wajda says.

The film, which screens out of competition at the Berlinale, had notched up 2.7 million admissions in Poland by the end of 2007.