The United Nations may not recognize Palestine, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences does.
Palestinian pic “Divine Intervention” is one of 55 contenders in the foreign-lingo category for the 76th Academy Awards. The tally is a record, besting last year’s figure by one, according to Academy prexy Frank Pierson. First-time submissions include Mongolia and Sri Lanka — and Palestine.
Decision on “Divine Intervention” comes a year after the Academy denied the same film a shot at the Oscar, saying then it did not recognize Palestine as a country.
“This year the committee decided to treat Palestine as an exception in the same way we treat Hong Kong as an exception,” said Acad spokesman John Pavlik. “It’s always the goal of the foreign-language film award executive committee to be as inclusive as possible. And they always bend over backwards to do so.”
Helmer Elia Suleiman’s romance won a jury prize at Cannes in 2002. Acad said the film also was denied entry in 2002 because it was submitted by its French producer, Humbert Balsan, and not by a proper selection committee based in Palestinian territory.
The Academy said Monday that it is not attempting to make a political statement.
“We’re not trying to be the U.N. and say that Palestine is a country. We’re saying that there’s a film industry that considers itself Palestinian, and it has come up with a film worthy of submission,” Pavlik said.
Afghanistan also entered a film this year, “Osama,” marking the second consecutive year the war-torn nation vies for an Oscar nod.
German director Caroline Link received last year’s foreign-lingo Oscar for “Nowhere in Africa.”
Nominations in all categories will be announced Jan. 27. The 76th Academy Awards will be held Feb. 29.
Following is the complete list of submissions.
Afghanistan, “Osama,” directed by Siddiq Barmak; Argentina, “Valentine,” Alejandro Agresti; Austria, “Free Radicals,” Barbara Albert; Belgium, “Sea of Silence,” Stijn Coninx; Bolivia, “Dependencia Sexual,” Rodrigo Bellott; Bosnia & Herzegovina, “Fuse,” Pjer Zalica; Brazil, “Carandiru,” Hector Babenco; Bulgaria, “Journey to Jerusalem,” Ivan Nichev; Canada, “The Barbarian Invasions,” Denys Arcand; Chile, “Los Debutantes,” Andres Waissbluth; China, “Warriors of Heaven and Earth,” He Ping; Colombia, “The First Night,” Luis Alberto Restrepo; Croatia, “Witnesses,” Vinko Bresan; Cuba, “Suite Habana,” Fernando Perez; Czech Republic, “Zelary,” Ond ej Trojan.
Also: Denmark, “Reconstruction,” Christoffer Boe; Egypt, “Sleepless Nights,” Hany Khalifa; Finland, “Elina,” Klaus Haro; France, “Bon Voyage,” Jean-Paul Rappeneau; Germany, “Good Bye, Lenin!,” Wolfgang Becker; Greece, “Think It Over,” Katerina Evangelakou; Hong Kong, “Infernal Affairs,” Andrew Lau & Alan Mak, directors; Hungary, “Forest,” Benedek Fliegauf; Iceland, “Noi the Albino,” Dagur Kari Petursson; Indonesia, “The Stringless Violin,” Sekar Ayu Asmara; Iran, “Deep Breath,” Parviz Shahbazi; Israel, “Nina’s Tragedies,” Savi Gavison; Italy, “I’m Not Scared,” Gabriele Salvatores; Japan, “The Twilight Samurai,” Yoji Yamada; Korea, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring,” Kim Ki-duk; Lebanon, “The Kite,” Randa Chahal Sabbag; Luxembourg, “I Always Wanted to Be a Saint,” Genevieve Mersch.
And: Mexico, “Aro Tolbukhin (In the Mind of a Killer),” co-directed by Agustin Villaronga, Lydia Zimmermann and Isaac P. Racine; Mongolia, “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” Byambasuren Davaa & Luigi Falorni; Nepal, “Muna Madan,” Gyanendra Bahadur Deuja; Netherlands, “Twin Sisters,” Ben Sombogaart; Norway, “Kitchen Stories,” Bent Hamer; Palestine, “Divine Intervention,” Elia Suleiman; Peru, “Paper Dove,” Fabrizio Aguilar; Philippines, “Dekada ’70,” Chito S. Rono; Poland, “Pornografia,” Jan Jakub Kolski; Portugal, “Um Filme Falado,” Manoel de Oliveira; Russia, “The Return,” Andrei Zvyagintsev.
And: Serbia & Montenegro, “The Professional,” Dusan Kovacevic; Slovakia, “King of Thieves,” Ivan Fila; Slovenia, “Spare Parts,” Damjan Kozole; Spain, “Soldados de Salamina,” David Trueba; Sri Lanka, “Mansion by the Lake,” Lester James Peries; Sweden, “Evil,” Mikael Hafstrom; Taiwan, “Goodbye, Dragon Inn,” Tsai Ming-Liang; Thailand, “Last Life in the Universe,” Pen-ek Ratanaruang; Turkey, “Distant,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Ukraine, “Mamay,” Oles Sanin; Uruguay, “Seawards Journey,” Guillermo Casanova; Venezuela, “Sangrador,” Leonardo Henriquez.
(Jill Feiwell contributed to this report.)