Three countries join Oscar race

Sweden, Romania, S. Korea enter titles

A further three countries — Sweden, Romania and South Korea — have selected their entries for the foreign-language Oscar race.

Youth drama “Simple Simon,” headlined by Bill Skarsgard, has been tapped as Sweden’s entry.

Pic, which opened Friday to positive reviews and good weekend box office at home, is the story of a young man suffering from Asperger syndrome and his efforts to get his brother a new girlfriend.

Pic was helmed by first-timer Andreas Ohman and produced by Bonnie Skoog Feeney for Naive.

Romania’s entry is “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.” The pic is a gritty drama about a juvenile delinquent, whose release from a detention center is complicated by the arrival of his long-absent mother.

Florin Serban’s directorial debut won the Silver Bear at Berlin this year and is co-produced and co-written by Catalin Mitulescu, based on a stage play by Andreea Valean.

Mitulescu directed and Valean wrote “The Way I Spent the End of the World,” which was Romania’s Oscar entry in 2007.

“Whistle,” starring George Pistereanu as the tearaway and Ada Condeescu as the trainee social worker he falls in love with, was chosen for the Oscars by a panel of Romanian film critics.

“A Barefoot Dream” has been picked as South Korea’s runner in the race.

Helmer Kim Tae-kyun’s sports drama was chosen by a five-strong jury.

Based on a true story, the pic centers on a retired Korean footballer who goes to East Timor after his business fails and launches a youth football team.

Handled by Showbox Mediaplex, pic opened in Korea in early June during the soccer World Cup. Critically acclaimed, it cumed $2 million from 330,000 admissions.

Kim’s previous film “Crossing” was South Korea’s Oscar runner in 2008.

Submissions for the foreign-language Oscar must reach the Academy by 5 p.m. Oct. 1. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 25. The 83rd Academy Awards will be held Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theater.

Han Sunhee contributed to this report.