Globes' foreign-language race is wide open

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Oscar makes countries choose. But the Globes allow multiple entries in the foreign-language picture category, making for a particularly strong race this year.

Italy is in play with at least three movies: "Il Divo," a biopic of former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti; Ferzan Ozpetek's "A Perfect Day"; and the mafia-themed "Gomorra," the country's official Oscar entry.

France will contend with its Kristin Scott Thomas starrer "I've Loved You So Long," as well as the Palme d'Or winner "The Class," its Oscar submission.

Russia has both Mikheil Kalatozishvili's "Wild Field," about a young doctor sent to live in a remote village, and "Mermaid," its Oscar entry, about a young girl who believes she can make wishes come true. Mexico has Oscar entry "Tear This Heart Out" and "The Desert Within."

Even India enters the game with "Jodhaa Akbar," as well as its Oscar submission, "Taare Zameen Par" (Stars on Earth), about a teacher's relationship with a dyslexic student.

All this means that, in typical fashion, the Globes will be a far more wide-open race than the Academy Awards, which have been criticized for their foreign-language criteria.

"The great thing about the HFPA is, we don't have one film per country," says Mike Goodridge, the organization's vp and head of its foreign-language committee.

"The whole point of the Globes is that it's completely inclusionary."

Not quite, actually. Two years ago, after Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" trounced competitors, including "The Lives of Others" and "Pan's Labyrinth," the HFPA decided that U.S.-financed entries would not be eligible.

This year, the HFPA is still wrestling with whether one foreign submission, Israel's "Waltz With Bashir," should also be considered in the animated feature category. "We are currently trying to work that out," Goodridge notes.

Goodridge expects 60-70 entries this year. Submissions must be released abroad in the period November 2007-December 2008.

Even though it is a struggle for the HFPA's members to see the films, he says, "We encourage films to apply."

-- Stephen Galloway
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