Austria has become thesecond country after Italy to have its candidate for the Foreign Language FilmOscar category rejected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences(AMPAS).

The Academy said thatAustria's submission, Michael Haneke's Frenchlanguage Hidden (Cache), had not been predominantly shot in the officiallanguage of the submitting country.

Austrian film industry's'umbrella' organisation FAFO argued that the film's Austrian creativeoutput was represented, first and foremost, by Austrian Michael Haneke as screenwriter and director as well as crew membersfor cinematography, production design, costume and a substantial part of thefinancing being accessed from Austria.

The FAFO suggested said theAcademy's decision could mean that leading European directors who made theirfilms as international co-productions and 'logically with linguisticallydiffering countries' could now be unable to be nominated with their filmsfor the Foreign Film Oscar.

Speaking to the Austriannews agency APA, director Michael Haneke admittedthat he was 'just as baffled as everyone' at the Academy's decisionand was supporting FAFO's protest, although he was viewingAMPAS' decision 'calmly'.

He said that the Academy'sreasoning would mean that Lars von Trier's Manderlay with its US actors and American location would beconsidered an American film. 'That's really stupid,' he said.

Haneke's previous film, The Piano Player (Die Klavierspielerin) - was shot in French although set inAustria - and was accepted as Austria's Oscar candidate in 2001. The Frenchlanguage was crucial in Hidden as the film centres on a French subject byaddressing the past conflict between France and Algeria.

According to FAFO's managing director Werner Mueller, the association willconsider 'whether we have the possibility to submit a second entry,whether we want to do anyway or want to insist on our decision for Cache.'

Wolfgang Murnberger'sbox-office hit Silentium and Hans Weingartner'sThe Edukators were the only other two Austrian filmsthat the Austrian Oscar selection jury would consider as replacement for Hidden.

Earlier this month Italy'sOscar candidate, Saverio Costanzo'sPrivate, was ruled ineligible by the Academy since the picture was not shot inItalian. It has since been replaced by Cristina Comencini'sdrama Don't Tell (La Bestia NelCuore).