Spanish Academy select films by Trueba, Berger, Rodriguez

MADRID — Fernando Trueba’s “The Artist and the Model,” Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves” and Alberto Rodriguez’s “Unit 7″ have made Spain’s three-pic shortlist for its foreign-language Oscar candidate.

The Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces the final Spanish contender on Sept. 27.

Screened at Toronto’s market Tuesday, “Artist” is Trueba’s follow-up to “Chico and Rita,” Oscar-nommed this year.

Shot in French and in b/w, and a Cohen Media Group U.S. pickup, it stars Jean Rochefort (“Man on a Train”) as an ageing sculptor finding final inspiration in a 1943 war-torn Southern France.

Bearing inevitable comparison to “The Artist” as a b/w tribute to silent cinema, “Blancanieves” is being hailed at Toronto, where it world preemed in Discovery, as the most original of recent Snow White riffs: This time round, the downtrodden heroine becomes a bullfighter in 1920s Seville.

A hard-boiled corrupt cop thriller starring hot heartthrob Mario Casas, “Unit 7,” has ticked all boxes, notching up critical plaudits — Variety called it “highly charged, often enthralling” — a standout Euros2.4 million ($3.1 million) in Spain, and major territory sales abroad, such as an HBO’s U.S. pay TV pick-up.

“Artist” and “Blancanieves” play in main competition at San Sebastian, which kicks off Sept. 21.

Also selected by Spanish Academy members, “Blancanieves,” “Unit 7″ and Daniel Calparsoro’s “Invader,” which world preems at early October’s Sitges Fest, will also compete for best Ibero-American film at Mexico’s Ariel awards.

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