Eastwood, Gibson pics on foreign Globes list

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Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" and Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" could find themselves competing against such high-profile foreign films as Pedro Almodovar's "Volver," Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Forian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" at the 64th annual Golden Globe Awards.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. released its list of eligible foreign-language films Monday, and both the Eastwood and Gibson movies made the first cut. By contrast, neither film is eligible in the Academy Awards' foreign-language film category because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has no provision for accommodating non-English-language films produced by U.S. companies in its foreign-language category.

In order to achieve a geographical spread, the Academy gives a certain weight to the country of origin — it allows only one film to be submitted per country and has no mechanism for the U.S. to submit a movie. But the HFPA considers any film in a foreign language that screens for its members by its deadline.

Recounting the battle of Iwo Jima from the point of view of the Japanese, the Japanese-language "Letters," Eastwood's companion piece to the current "Flags of Our Fathers," was originally scheduled for release by Warner Bros. Pictures in February, then moved to Dec. 20, which qualified it for consideration by both groups. "It emerged in contention five minutes before our deadline," HFPA president Philip Berk said. But because the HFPA allows only English-language movies in its two best picture categories — best drama and best comedy/musical — "Letters" found a potential home instead on the HFPA's foreign-language list. "Obviously, this is a film that is a piece of credible motion picture making, but we cannot qualify it as American or English-language," Berk explained. "The only place it qualifies is foreign language."

According to the HFPA rules, foreign-language movies, though barred from the two best picture races, are eligible in all other Globe categories. (Just to complicate matters, while the Academy won't be considering either "Letters" or "Apocalypto" for a foreign-film nomination, both movies are eligible for consideration as best picture.)

In its initial list of eligible titles, the HFPA listed "Letters" as representing Japan, though the movie — produced by Warners and DreamWorks — was primarily shot in California, with some location work on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.

The HFPA identified "Apocalypto" as a U.S. entry. Filmed in Mexico by Gibson's Icon Prods. and set for release by Buena Vista, the period action/adventure movie uses a Mayan dialect.

While the HFPA produced a list of 56 eligible films, compared with the Academy's 61, only 29 titles appeared on both lists. For though the Academy restricts itself to one film per country, the HFPA welcomed more than one film from such countries as France, Italy, Spain, China and Brazil.

The Globe's complete list of nominees includes: "9th Company" (Russia/Ukraine/Finland); "After the Wedding" (Denmark); "Ahlaam" (Iraq); "Alatriste" (Spain); "Along the Ridge" (Italy); "Angel-A" (France); "Apocalypto"; "Avenue Montaigne" (France); "Black Book" (The Netherlands); "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros" (Philippines); "Bosta" (Lebanon); "Children of Glory" (Hungary); "Chronicle of an Escape" (Argentina); "Cinema, Aspirins & Vultures" (Brazil); "Climates" (Turkey); "Curse of the Golden Flower" (China); "Days of Glory" (Algeria); "El Benny" (Cuba); "A Family Friend" (Italy); "Family Law" (Argentina); "Frozen Days" (Israel); "Golden Door" (Italy/France); "Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams" (Bosnia-Herzegovina); "Il Caimano" (Italy); and "Ice Cream, I Scream" (Turkey).

It also includes "The Island" (Russia); "King and the Clown" (South Korea); "Lage Raho Munnabhai" (India); "La Mujer de Mi Hermano" (Mexico); "The Last Train" (Germany); "Letters From Iwo Jima"; "Libertas" (Croatia); "The Lives of Others" (Germany); "Love for Share" (Indonesia); "Mario's War" (Italy); "The Missing Star" (Italy), "Nomad" (Kazakhstan); "Offside" (Iran); "O Major Amor Do Mundo" (Brazil); "Omkara" (India); "Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico); "Playing the Victim" (Russia); "Pretendiendo" (Chile); "Prince of the Himalaya" (China); "The Protector" (Thailand); "Rang de Basanti" (Thailand); "Reprise" (Norway); "Requiem" (Germany); "Retrieval" (Poland); "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" (China); "Sweet Mud" (Israel); "The Valet" (France); "Vitus" (Switzerland); "Volver" (Spain); "Water" (Canada); and "Yacoubian Building" (Egypt).
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