Netherlands, Luxembourg choose Oscar pics

'The Silent Army,' 'Draft Dodgers' in foreign-language race

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Two of Europe's tinier nations have entered the 2010 Oscar race, with the Netherlands putting forth Jean van de Velde's "The Silent Army" and little Luxembourg nominating "Draft Dodgers" as their candidates for next year's foreign-language film honor.

"The Silent Army" looks at the issue of child soldiers in Africa through the real-life story of a Dutch cook who tracks down his young son's friend after he is kidnapped by a local warlord. Its nomination could spark controversy at home, since the international version of the film, which screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year, is substantially different from the version that bowed in the Netherlands. The film also contains substantial English dialogue, always a point of contention in the foreign-language category.

"Draft Dodgers" is the directorial debut of Luxembourg producer Nicolas Steil ("Contact High") and, like so many in foreign-language race, is set during WWII. The hero is a young man who, after Germany annexes Luxembourg, hides in an abandoned mine to avoid being sent to the front.

The nominations for the 2010 Oscars will be announced Feb. 2, and the awards will be handed out March 7.
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