Followingdays of polemics, Italy has selected Cristina Comencini's drama Don't Tell(La Bestia Nel Cuore)as its candidate for the best foreign language film Oscar.

The countryhad previously selected Saverio Costanzo's Middle East drama Private, but the picture was ruledineligible by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, since the filmwas not shot in Italian. (It wasshot in Arabic and Hebrew, with some dialogues in English.)

Comencini'sDon't Tell starsGiovanna Mezzogiorno as a soon-to-be-mother forced to deal for the first timewith the ghosts of child abuse in her childhood. Her role earned Mezzogiorno the Best Actress award at this year's Venice Film Festival.

The announcement follows days of quibbling in the nationalpress by local directors, producers and Italian film organisation Anica.

Firstly,producer Aurelio De Laurentiis withdrew from contention Manual of Love, Giovanni Veronesi's comedy-dramathat had been in pole position to win the Italian vote. De Laurentiis said hisdecision was a sign of support for Private. Like several other Italian industryleaders, he said the Academy should be more flexible - and has called forproducers from other countries to join him in appealing for a change to"anachronistic" regulations.

Antoniettade Lillo also decided to withdraw her film, Il Resto Di Niente, from consideration, albeit fordifferent reasons: The director said hers was a sign of protest as "no film cancompete without the right support in terms of production, distribution and promotion." De Lillo complained that her film hadnever received any promotional support at festivals or national awards over thepast year in spite of critical success.

Polemicsfirst started last month when Anica announced that a new 17-member selection committeewould vote for the Oscar candidate. Until now, the Italian candidate had beenchosen by the same 1,000-plus jury who vote for the David di Donatellos,Italy's highest film awards.

The newcommittee is headed by Bernardo Bertolucci and includes producers anddistributors. This initially raised concerns over a potential conflict ofinterest on the part of producers with films in the running.

Thecommittee has denied this.However, with industry figures still openly bickering in the press the polemics seem destined to continue.