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Oscar 2010: THE WHITE RIBBON, A PROPHET, AJAMI - Foreign Language Film Semi-Finalists

The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke

The nine semi-finalists in the Foreign Language Film category for the 2010 Academy Awards have been announced. They are:

Argentina, El Secreto de Sus Ojos / The Secret of Her Eyes, Juan Jose Campanella, director;

Australia, Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton, director;

Bulgaria, The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, Stephan Komandarev, director;

France, A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, director;

Germany, The White Ribbon (above), Michael Haneke, director;

Israel, Ajami, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, directors;

Kazakhstan, Kelin, Ermek Tursunov, director;

The Netherlands, Winter in Wartime, Martin Koolhoven, director;

Peru, The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa, director.

Sixty-five films had originally qualified in the category. Notably absent from the list are Xavier Dolan's I Killed My Mother (Canada); Miguel Littin's Dawson, Island 10 (Chile); Chen Kaige's Forever Enthralled (China); Ciro Guerra's The Wind Journeys (Colombia); Oskar Jonasson's Reykjavik-Rotterdam (Iceland); and Asghar Farhadi's About Elly (Iran).

Also, Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria (Italy); Joon-ho Bong's Mother (South Korea); Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective (Romania); Fernando Trueba's The Dancer and the Thief (Spain); Ruben Ostlund's Involuntary (Sweden); Leon Dai's No Puedo Vivir sin Ti (Taiwan); and Havana Marking's Afghan Star (United Kingdom).

US critics' foreign language favorites such as Pedro Almodóvar's Broken Embraces, Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, and Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours couldn't be in the list of semi-finalists because they weren't even submitted in the first place thanks to the Academy's byzantine rules for its foreign-language film category.

Once again, the nominations are being determined in two phases.

First, "several hundred" (as per the Academy's press release) Los Angeles-based members, screened the 65 eligible films between mid-October and January 16. The group's top six choices, plus three additional selections voted by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The five final nominees will be selected by "specially invited committees," consisting of about 20 or so people, in New York and Los Angeles. They will spend Friday, January 29, through Sunday, January 31, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

I feel sorry for the third film screened on each day. In fact, I feel sorry for all films being screened on Sunday, period.

The 2010 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The 2010 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it'll be televised live by ABC.

Photo: Michael Kranz in The White Ribbon (Films du Losange / Sony Pictures Classics)

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