Pic world-preemed this month in Toronto

TOKYO — The Motion Picture Producers Assn. of Japan (Eiren) has selected “Hula Girls” as its nomination for foreign-language Oscar.

Directed by Lee Sang-il (“69,” “Scrap Heaven”), an ethnic Korean born and raised in Japan, pic is based on the true story of a mining community that launched a Hawaiian Center in the mid-1960s to lure tourists and revive its flagging economy. The main draw was the local lasses dancing the hula.

Yasuko Matsuyuki (“Monday,” “Another Heaven”) stars as the chain-smoking instructor brought from Tokyo to teach the exotic new dance, while Yu Aoi (“Honey and Clover”) plays her star pupil.

Distribbed by Cine Qua Non, the pic opens in Japan on Sept. 23. It world-preemed this month at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

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