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Japan picks ‘Our Homeland’ as foreign language Oscar entry

Yang Yong-hi pic screened in Berlin

TOKYO — “Our Homeland,” Yang Yong-hi’s debut feature about a Korean man’s visit to his family in Japan after a long exile in North Korea, has been selected as Japan’s nominee for the foreign language Oscar race.

Yang, herself a second-generation ethnic Korean living in Japan, based the pic on her family history.

Arata Iura stars as the hero, sent to North Korea as a teen by his fervently North-supporting father. Returning to Tokyo for medical treatment after 25 years, he finds it difficult to open up to his family, including his passionately anti-North sister (Sakura Ando).

Yang has also helmed family themed docus “Sona, the Other Myself” (2010) and “Dear Pyongyang” (2005) that served as thematic warm-ups for “Our Homeland.”

The pic was chosen out of 22 nominations by a panel of seven, headed by critic Yukichi Shinada.

“Our Homeland” screened at Berlin and was released in Japan in August. It’s sold by Star Sands.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for foreign film on Jan. 15. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.

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