Belgium selects ‘Illegal’ for Oscars

Pic centers on arrest of Russian immigrant

BRUSSELS — “Illegal” by Olivier Masset-Depasse will be Belgium’s entry for foreign-language Oscar competition in 2011.

Pic relates the experience of Tania (Anne Coesens), a Russian woman living illegally in Belgium for many years, who is suddenly arrested and held in a detention center.

Drama revolves around her determination to keep her origins secret, confounding attempts to deport her and protecting her 14-year-old son, who is still at large.

Power of Coesens’ performance, in French and Russian, was cited by the selection committee as one reason for its choice.

Pic took its world bow in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, and has since toured international fests, taking top prize at the Angouleme fest of French-speaking film in August.

Produced by Versus Production, international sales are handled by Films Distribution.

“Illegal” goes on general release in Belgium and France in October.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg will not be making a foreign-language Oscar submission. Its two major features of the year are both in English, making them ineligible for the competition.