A record 51 countries have joined the race for next year's Oscar for best foreign film, the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday.
In the largest ever crop of foreign pictures, countries such as Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania and Uruguay have for the first time submitted entries for the world's most prestigious entertainment awards.
France's entry, Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, has been tipped by many pundits as an early favorite to win next year's best foreign film award, while Dark Blue World by Czech director Jan Sverak has also been hailed.
Other possible hopefuls for the top cinematic trophy have been tipped as Bosnian entry No Man's Land, Canada's Atanarjuat, directed by Zacharias Kunuk and Italy's The Son's Room by Nani Moretti.
Mark Johnson, who produced What Lies Beneath and Galaxy Quest will head the Foreign Language Film Award Committee which will begin screening all entries on November 28 before nominating five of them for the coveted Oscar.
Films submitted for the best foreign language category can also be eligible for nomination for other Academy Awards awards provided they meet the requirements for that category.
Five foreign films have won both the Best Foreign Language and the Best Picture categories, including Italy's Life is Beautiful in 1998.
The Oscar nominations for the 2002 Academy awards will be announced on February 12 and the Oscars ceremony will be held on March 24 in Los Angeles -- AFP
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )