Oscar-nominated Finnishdirector Aki Kaurismaki is boycotting Sunday's Academy Awards in protest overthe imminent war with Iraq.

In a strongly worded letterto Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Frank Pierson,Kaurismaki said he and his production company Sputnik Ltd refused to attendwhile "the United States is preparing for a crime against humanity for thepurpose of shameless economical interests."

Kaurismaki, whoseaward-winning The Man Without a Past is nominated in the best foreign-language category, added: "For thesereasons we are not in a party mood."

The letter went on to saythe boycott was not aimed at the Academy or American citizens. "It is solely amoral choice worth a grain of sand in this crazy world. Cinema should live -but this chance should also be given to Iraqi civilians: children, women andmen."

The film-maker boycotted theNew York Film Festival in October last year as a show of solidarity afterIranian director Abbas Kiarostami was denied entry because of visa problems.

Meanwhile a consortium ofactors is planning a silent but conspicuous war protest at Sunday's awardsceremony. Dustin Hoffman, Michael Moore, Jim Carrey, Julianne Moore, BenAffleck, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Kirsten Dunst andSelma Hayek will sport Artists United To Win Without War pin badges.

A statement by the groupread: "Due to the widespread anxiety now being felt over current world eventsand the consternation expressed by some involved with the awards ceremonies thatinappropriate political statements may mar the upcoming presentation, ArtistsUnited to Win Without War has chosen to announce the creation and distributionof a 'peace sign pin' that can be worn by anyone who chooses to use it as asilent statement of opposition to this unnecessary and inappropriate war."