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ROME — Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s gritty “Caesar Must Die,” shot in Rome’s maximum-security Rebibbia penitentiary where convicts perform Shakespeare, is Italy’s entry for the foreign-language film Oscar.

The Tavianis’ potent testimony to the therapeutic power of theater won the Berlin Golden Bear earlier this year and swept the country’s top David di Donatello Awards.

Produced by Grazia Volpi, in association with Stemal Entertainment, Agnese Fontana’s Le Talee, and Associazione Culturale La Ribalta, with financing from RAI Cinema, “Caesar” is sold internationally by RAI Trade.

Semi-docu largely starring real inmates who perform Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” behind bars will have its Stateside preem at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 29 before opening in U.S. theaters via Adopt Films in February 2013.

The pic was chosen by a commission of experts named by Italy’s motion picture association ANICA, among 10 titles that included Matteo Garrone’s “Reality,” Marco Bellocchio’s “Dormant Beauty” and Ivano De Matteo’s “Balancing Act.”

Italy last won the foreign-language film Oscar in 1999 with Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for best foreign film on Jan. 10. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.