Four new films in Oscar contention

Titles join foreign-language film race

Laurent Cantet’s “Entre les murs” (The Class) has been picked to represent France in the race for nomination in the foreign-language film category at the 81st Academy Awards while Bent Hamer’s “O’ Horten” is Norway’s hopeful and “Taare zameen par” is India’s contender.

“The Class,” which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and opened the New York Film Festival, was produced by Haut et Court.

Adapted from Francois Begaudeau’s novel, the pic chronicles the experience of a teacher in an underprivileged Paris neighborhood.

The Gallic selection committee included Thierry Fremaux, general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival; Alain Terzian, president of the Cesars Academy; thesp Jeanne Moreau; and helmers Jean-Jacques Annaud, Constantin Costa-Gavras and Regis Wargnier.

Pic will bow Wednesday in France. Memento Films is handling international sales.

It will be distribbed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics, which has also picked up “O ‘Horten.”

The bittersweet comedy is about a train driver heading into retirement, written and produced by Hamer for Bulbur Films.

Pic made its international debut in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes and has since been sold by the Match Factory to more than 35 countries.

“O’ Horten” is also in the running for a nomination from the European Film Academy awards, to be handed out in Copenhagen on Dec. 6.

Meanwhile, India on Saturday selected UTV’s “Taare zameen par,” a relationship movie about a dyslexic child and a teacher who goes the extra mile.

Pic, the directorial debut of Aamir Khan (“Lagaan”), also picked up six top awards at the Nokia 14th Annual Star Screen Awards over the weekend. Khan’s 2001 “Lagaan,” earned a foreign-language Oscar nomination.

A tear-jerking smash hit, “Taare” was selected by the Film Federation of India on Saturday and seems unlikely to draw the same degree of criticism as did last year’s nomination process.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences invited 96 countries to submit films for foreign-language Oscar consideration. Deadline for submission is Oct. 1, the noms will be announced Jan. 22, and the 81st kudofest takes place Feb. 22.