Colombia's Film Office has selected Barbet Schroeder's controversial Our Lady Of The Assassins (La Virgen De Los Sicaros) for submission as best foreign language film at next year's Academy Awards.

In his first foreign language production in sixteen years, Schroeder's film illustrates the demise of Medellin, a once magnificent city, now infamous as the centre of the Colombian cocaine cartel, through the eyes of a famous novelist who returns home after years of writing overseas.

Schroeder shot the film in less than seven weeks in extreme conditions using high-definition video to dramatise this controversial story. Constant threats to cast and crew, necessitated creating bogus film locations, hiring bodyguards and populating sets with armed extras in bullet-proof vests.

With a career that began in the midst of the French New Wave of the 1960s, Iranian-born Schroeder has directed, written, produced and even acted in over 40 films in the United States and abroad.

For his work on Reversal of Fortune (1990), Schroeder was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe as Best Director. His other American feature credits include Barfly; Single White Female; Kiss of Death ; Before and After, Desperate Measures and the upcoming Fool Proof.

Based on the 1994 novel, La Virgen De Los Sicaros by Fernando Vallejo, the film was highly praised in the United States. It was released on September 7 in New York and Los Angeles and has taken $461,381as of Nov 1.

Paramount Classics acquired the film for the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Colombia and a few additional territories in Latin and Central America just after screening the film at the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals last year.