'Bashir,' 'Departures,' 'Class' make the cut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has unveiled the nine semifinalists for the foreign-language award, the first shortlist to reflect the new voting rules in the category.

These are the nine:

Austria, “Revanche” (Gotz Spielmann, director);

Canada, “The Necessities of Life” (Benoit Pilon);

France, “The Class” (Laurent Cantet);

Germany, “The Baader Meinhof Complex” (Uli Edel);

Israel, “Waltz With Bashir” (Ari Folman);

Japan, “Departures” (Yojiro Takita);

Mexico, “Tear This Heart Out” (Roberto Sneider);

Sweden, “Everlasting Moments” (Jan Troell);

Turkey, “3 Monkeys” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan).

The roster includes four from Europe and two from North America.

Under the new voting procedure, instituted after last year’s ceremony, the Phase I committee screened the 65 eligible films between mid-October and Jan. 10. That panel consists of several hundred Los Angeles-based members.

That group’s top six choices were augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s foreign-language film award executive committee — an innovation this year.

Every year, there are surprise inclusions and omissions. On Tuesday, few quarreled with the choices, but many were surprised that Italy’s “Gomorrah” (directed by Matteo Garrone) was not on the list. Less surprising, but still mentioned, were Chile’s “Tony Manero” (Pablo Larrain), Jordan’s first entry “Captain Abu Raed” (Amir Matalqa), Kazakhstan’s “Tulpan” (Sergey Dvortsevoy) and Norway’s “O’Horten” (Bent Hamer).

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five 2008 nominees by specially selected committees in New York and Los Angeles. The committee members will spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday viewing three of the films each day.

The five nominees will be announced, along with those in other categories, on Jan. 22.

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