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Animated hit 'Persepolis'  draws French Oscar bid

'Ben X' marks the spot for Belgium

PARIS -- The French are hoping to animate the 2008 Oscars with Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's "Persepolis," national film organization the CNC announced after deliberations Monday night.

The adaptation of Satrapi's popular autobiographical comic book about a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl during the Islamic Revolution will represent France in the race for Oscar glory.

Belgium, meanwhile, unveiled plans to offer Nic Balthazar's "Ben X," winner of three awards at the Montreal Film Festival.

Produced by 2.4.7 films and featuring the voices of Simon Abkarian, Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni, the black-and-white animated "Persepolis" already has been tapped for a U.S. remake from Sony Pictures Classics starring Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn, Iggy Pop and Deneuve.

Despite enraging the Iranian government, the film was a huge boxoffice success in France, selling 1.12 million tickets when it was released in the territory in July. The film tied with Carlos Reygadas' "Silent Light" for the jury prize at this year's Cannes film festival.

Written and directed by first-timer Balthazar, the Flemish-language "Ben X" revolves around an autistic teenager, played by Greg Timmermans, who retreats into violent online role-playing games to escape from bullying at school.

Co-produced by Dutch outfit Bos Bros., "Ben X" is backed by the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund and the EU's Media Plus Program, while Paris-based sales agent Films Distribution will represent the film internationally. It opens in Belgium on Sept. 26.

Rebecca Leffler reported from Paris; Leo Cendrowicz reported from Brussels.