Spain has selected Pedro Almodovar's Volver as its submission for the foreign language Academy Award.

Almodovar is clearly astrong contender: Volver has alreadyearned rave reviews internationally and picked up the best script and bestactress prizes in Cannes for its female cast, led by star Penelope Cruzand early Almodovar muse Carmen Maura. The film received international criticsgroup Fipresci's 2006 Grand Prix in San Sebastian earlier this week.

An Academy Award regular,the director previously won the foreign-language Oscar in 1999 for All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre) andpicked up a best script prize for his follow-up film Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella), also nominated in the bestdirector category in 2003.

He was first nominated inthe foreign-language category for his 1988 break-out comedy Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown(Mujeres Al Borde De Un Ataque De Nervios), which starred Maura.

The decision, announcedThursday morning in Madrid, may also mark a reconciliationbetween Almodovar and the Spanish Film Academy, which in recent years has overlooked the director'sfilms for the foreign-language Oscar category and multiple Goya Awardnominations. Pedro's producer and brother AgustinAlmodovar announced a very public resignation from the Spanish Academy last year.

Announcing the decisionThursday, director Montxo Armendariz, current vice president of the SpanishFilm Academy, highlighted the fact that Volveris about to premiere in the United States on Nov 3 through SonyPictures Classics and that the director and cast are already well known inthe US.

Sony recently relaunchedeight classic Almodovar films as part of a retrospective titled Viva Pedro. Cruz meanwhile will receivethe Actress of the Year award at the upcoming Hollywood Film Festival.

Produced by the Almodovarbrothers' Madrid-based El Deseo, Volver tellsthe story of a working-class mother (Cruz) whose own mother (Maura) seeminglycomes back from the dead just in time to help her deal with the fall-outof having killed her no-good boyfriend.

Almodovar won out over twoother semi-finalists for Spain's foreign-language Oscar submission: AgustinDiaz Yanes' local box office hit Alatriste,produced by Estudios Picasso, Origen and Universal Pictures;and MediaPro-produced, Manuel Huerga-directed Salvador, the tale of a political martyr in 1970s Spain.

All three of thesemi-finalist selections have arguable international appeal: Alatriste stars Viggo Mortensen as amorally conflicted 17th century captain, while Salvador, which premiered in Un Certain Regard in Cannes this year, stars German actor Daniel Bruehl asthe title character.