Oscar hopefuls race to submit

With some pics still struggling to meet the Acad’s eligibility requirements for release in their home territories, a battery of foreign-language Oscar entries were submitted just under the wire.

China, Hong Kong, Denmark, India, Iran and the Palestinian territory joined those already named.

Chen Kaige’s sweeping historical epic “The Promise,” billed as the most expensive Chinese film ever, has been named as the mainland Chinese contender for Oscar’s foreign-language pic category.

The pan-Asian production is still in post-production and not due for release until December; however, to qualify for the Oscar category, a film must be screened in its home country for at least one week. Chen and producer Chen Hong were scrambling to prepare the first print of the film for its first mainland run in the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, on Thursday. It will open Friday and run for a week.

Shot by Peter Pau, “Promise” has found distribution in the U.S., U.K. and several other territories through a new relationship between IDG New Media Fund and the Weinstein Co.

The Hong Kong selection, helmer Peter Chan Ho-sun’s “Perhaps Love,” was the closing film for the Venice Film Festival. The $10 million musical love story began its qualifying run Friday at one H.K. theater. The co-production of Applause Pictures and Ruddy Morgan will go into general territory release, including China, Singapore and Malaysia, on Dec. 8. Celestial Pictures handles worldwide distribution.

India has selected Amol Palekar’s “Paheli” (Puzzle), starring Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji. Centered around a ghost who falls in love with a neglected bride, it’s based on an old Rajasthani folk tale by Vijayadan Detha.

Vinod Pandey, acting chairman of the Film Federation of India, which makes the selection, said the pic “represents the Indian ethos.”

Denmark submitted Anders Thomas Jensen’s comedy “Adam’s Apples,” a modern religious fable. Pic tells the story of Adam, a neo-Nazi sent to a vicarage to do community service.

Produced by Tivi Magnusson and Mie Andreasen for M&M Prods., “Adam’s Apples” has been seen by more than 350,000 Danes in its first weeks of release. Pic was selected for the Toronto Film Festival in September.

From Iran, the Farabi Cinematic Foundation nominated “Too Far, Too Close” (aka “So Close, So Far”) by helmer Reza Mir-Karimi. Pic preemed at the Fajr Festival in Tehran in February, where it scooped six prizes. The spiritual film, about the midlife crisis of a top surgeon, won feature and director, plus five other awards, at the Iran Cinema Celebration.

Repping the Palestinians is “Paradise Now,” a tale of juvenile suicide bombers. The territory that many countries do not recognize as its own nation is one of 91 that AMPAS invited to submit contenders for the foreign-language award. Pic, directed by Netherlands resident Hany Abu Assad, is a co-production of Dutch-German-French-Israeli nationality.

Monday is the deadline for submitting foreign-language pics to the Acad. The ceremony takes place March 5.

(Patrick Frater and Vicki Rothrock in Hong Kong, Shalini Dore in Hollywood and Pia Lundberg in Stockholm contributed to this report.)

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