Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki has withdrawn from the race for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Foreign-Language Film category.

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

'Kaurismaki was apparently never contacted by the committee about entering his film, and when he learned about it he decided he would not participate,' explained international department Kirsi Tykkylainen, head of the Finnish Film Foundation's international department.

'Speculations in local media that he acted from political motives have not been confirmed. But he never made it a secret that he doesn't like Bush.'

In 2003 Kaurismaki cancelled his trip to the Hollywood ceremony, where the second part of the trilogy, The Man Without A Past, was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar. In Cannes that film had won the Jury Grand Prix, the Ecumenical 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-led invasion of Iraq.

Already a national hero, awarded the Finnish president's Pro Finlandia Medal, Kaurismaki received earlier this month the Baltic Star Award from St Petersburg governor Valentina Matvijenko in recognition of his artistic 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 of the Year by the Finnish Film Directors' Association.