The MotionPicture Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) hasannounced Lee Sang-il's Hula Girls as Japan's official entry for Best ForeignLanguage Film for the Academy Awards. The final five films nominated in thecategory will be announced by AMPAS on January 23.

Hula Girls tells the true story of a group of Japanese coalminers' daughters who learn the traditional Hawaiian dance in an effort to savetheir town from the economic crisis of an impending mine closure. The filmstars Yu Aoi, Yasuko Matsuyukiand Etsushi Toyokawa.

The last Japanesefilm to receive a nomination in the Foreign Film category was 2003's The Twilight Samurai (TasogareSeibei) directed by YojiYamada.

Hula Girls had its world premiere at the Toronto InternationalFilm Festival and opens in Japan on September 23. Fortissimo has salesrights.