As expected, the Venice Film Festival's recent Golden Lion winner The Return, directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev, has been selected as the Russian entry for the upcoming Oscars.

The film, produced by Moscow based Ren Films, won worldwide critical acclaim in Venice and is considered a hot contender for a slot as one of the five finalists for the foreign language Oscar.

The Return has already been sold in numerous territories throughout the world with North American rights expected to be closed sometime this week.

"I think the selection is very important for the film," said Raisa Fomina, head of Intercinema Art Agency who are selling the film worldwide. "It will also help with international sales and distribution."

Many critics compared Zvyagintsev's Venice win to Tarkovsky's discovery there. The film is a mystical tale about two young boys whose father reappears after an absence of 12 years and attempts to establish a relationship with them. But the attempt ends in tragedy.