Drama selected for foreign-language film race

Paris– Xavier Beauvois’ critically acclaimed drama “Of Gods and Men” has been chosen to represent France in the foreign-language film race of the Academy Awards.

Based on a 1996 incident, the film follows eight French monks who live peacefully in a monastery perched in the mountains of Algeria until post-colonial tensions escalated. Driven by their faith and convictions, the monks decide to remain in Algeria in spite of repeated threats.

The Lambert Wilson starrer bowed at Cannes where it garnered a jury prize and rave reviews. Repped by Wild Bunch, the pic was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at Cannes for U.S. and Australia/New Zealand rights.

Released in France by Mars Distribution on Sept. 8, the film topped the Gallic B.O. and grossed a healthy $2.7 million in its first week.

As with last year’s French entry, “A Prophet,” “Of Gods and Men” is produced by Pascal Caucheteux’s Why Not Films. French outfit Armada Films and pubcaster France 3 Cinema co-produced.

Pic is actor-turned-helmer Beauvois’ seventh feature. He previously won the Europa Cinema Label award at Venice for 2005 pic “Le Petit Lieutenant.”

“Of Gods and Men” has been acquired for the U.K. (Artificial Eye), Italy (Lucky Red), Canada (Metropole), Spain (Golem), Scandinavia (NonStop), Germany (NFP), Korea (Back-Du-Dugong), Russia (Leopard), Benelux (Lumiere) and Switzerland (Frenetic).

“Of Gods and Men” was selected by a French committee, which includes Cannes fest topper Thierry Fremaux, prexy of the Cesar Academy Alain Terzian and thesp Jeanne Moreau, and helmers Jean-Jacques Annaud, Costa-Gavras and Regis Wargnier.

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