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Japan picks ‘Our Homeland’ as foreign language Oscar entry

Yang Yong-hi pic screened in Berlin

TOKYO — “Our Homeland,” Yang Yong-hi’s debut feature about a Korean man’s visit to his family in Japan after a long exile in North Korea, has been selected as Japan’s nominee for the foreign language Oscar race.

Yang, herself a second-generation ethnic Korean living in Japan, based the pic on her family history.

Arata Iura stars as the hero, sent to North Korea as a teen by his fervently North-supporting father. Returning to Tokyo for medical treatment after 25 years, he finds it difficult to open up to his family, including his passionately anti-North sister (Sakura Ando).

Yang has also helmed family themed docus “Sona, the Other Myself” (2010) and “Dear Pyongyang” (2005) that served as thematic warm-ups for “Our Homeland.”

The pic was chosen out of 22 nominations by a panel of seven, headed by critic Yukichi Shinada.

“Our Homeland” screened at Berlin and was released in Japan in August. It’s sold by Star Sands.

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for foreign film on Jan. 15. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.

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