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ROME — Paolo Virzi’s “The First Beautiful Thing,” a bittersweet comedy about a proto-feminist Italo mom, is Italy’s foreign-language Oscar entry.

A hit in Italy, the melancholy “Beautiful Thing,” which spans several decades starting in the 1970s, stars Micaela Ramazzotti and Stefania Sandrelli, who play the pic’s femme central character at different ages.

Released locally by Medusa and praised by local critics, “Beautiful Thing” has capitalized on a growing Italo appetite for more highbrow comic fare, grossing more than $8 million, and winning three David di Donatello nods, Italy’s top film awards. Pic also marked the bow of new Italo shingle Indiana Productions, in which Gabriele Muccino — helmer of Will Smith starrers “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Seven Pounds” — is a partner. Indiana has international ambitions for what is being hailed as Virzi’s best pic, which has been sold by Intramovies to a half-dozen territories, with a U.S. pickup deemed imminent.

“Beautiful Thing” is one of a 10 film shortlist compiled by Italian motion picture association ANICA. That roster also included Luca Guadagnino’s Tilda Swinton starrer “I Am Love,” which is currently on release Stateside, where it has pulled a solid $4.8 million via Magnolia Pictures.

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