Italy alters Oscar pic pick with eye on prize

15-member committee includes Bertolucci

ROME — Italy’s motion picture org Anica has radically reconfigured its foreign-language Oscar selection system, hoping to find pics with greater Academy appeal.

A 15-member committee will pick Italy’s candidate, doing away with previous rules under which nearly 1,000 industryites — the same ones who decide winners of Italy’s Davide di Donatello film nods — voted for their pick.

The new compact Oscar selection committee includes helmer Bernardo Bertolucci, distrib Andrea Occhipinti, sales agent Paola Corvino and producers Domenico Procacci, Aurelio De Laurentiis and Riccardo Tozzi.

“Since Roberto Benigni’s ‘Life Is Beautiful’ triumphed in 1998, Italy hasn’t scored a single nomination,” an Anica spokesman said. “This new way of doing things should help us make better choices, more focused toward foreign tastes.”

But the new selection system could become controversial as producers may have to rule on their own pics.

Front-runners tipped to represent Italy in the foreign-language Oscar race are Cristina Comencini’s Venice entry “La bestia nel cuore” (Don’t Tell), doing nicely at the local box office, and Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Cuore sacro” (Sacred Heart), released earlier this year.

Anica will announce Italy’s foreign-language Oscar choice on Oct. 3, the Academy’s closing date for submissions.

The Oscar ceremony will be held March 5.

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