France haschosen Christian Carion's Merry Christmas as this year's entry for thebest foreign language film Oscar, controversially overlooking box office smash MarchOf The Penguins.

A committee made up of industry professionals includingCannes festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux and Unifrance presidentMargaret Menegoz selected the film which is set to be released by UGC onSeptember 21.

Criteria for theselection are that the film must be released between October 1, 2004 andSeptember 30, 2005. Merry Christmasalready benefited from a technical release earlier this season.

TheFrench-UK-Belgian co-production stars Guillaume Canet, Diane Kruger, DanielBruhl, Dany Boon and Gary Lewis and screened out of competition during the lastCannes Film Festival.

French outfitFilms Distribution is handling sales on Christmas which went to SonyPictures Classics for the US, UK, Italy and Latin America in a heated biddingwar during Cannes.

The film isbased on a true story set at Christmas during the First World War when enemieswere able to lay aside their differences in honor of the holiday.

March Of The Penguins has taken the USbox-office by storm to become the most successful French film of all timeStateside.

Other filmswhich were possible choices included Radu Mihaileanu's Live And Become, Cedric Klapisch's Russian Dollsand Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped.

Meanwhile, Palme d'Or winner The Son (L'Enfant) will represent Belgium as its Oscar submission.

On Monday, Agence France Presse reported the vote had been unanimous among the 11 member Belgian selection committee. Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Son was released locally last week.