Finnish director Aki Kaurismakihas withdrawn from the race for an Academy Award nomination in the BestForeign-Language Film category.

He has told the FinnishOscar Committee that he does not want LightsIn The Dusk - the final film in his losers'trilogy - to be Finland's official submission. With deadline for submission passed, it is toolate to come up with a new candidate.

"Kaurismaki was apparentlynever contacted by the committee about entering his film, and when he learnedabout it he decided he would not participate," explained international departmentKirsi Tykkylainen, head of the Finnish Film Foundation's internationaldepartment. "Speculations in local media that he acted from political motiveshave not been confirmed. But he never made it a secret that he doesn't likeBush."

In 2003 Kaurismaki cancelledhis trip to the Hollywood ceremony, where the second part of the trilogy, The Man Without APast, was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar. In Cannes that film had won the Jury Grand Prix, theEcumenical Prize, Best Actress (Kati Outinen) and the Palm Dog (his own Tahti,for best performance of a dog). The reason for his no-show then was the US-ledinvasion of Iraq.

Already a national hero,awarded the Finnish president's Pro Finlandia Medal, Kaurismaki receivedearlier this month the Baltic Star Award from St Petersburg governor Valentina Matvijenko in recognition of hisartistic work. It has previously been given to such film-makers as Russia's Aleksandr Sokurov and Poland's Andrzej Wajda. Last month he was named Director ofthe Year by the Finnish Film Directors' Association.