'Carancho' submitted for foreign Oscar nom

Pablo Trapero film was a Cannes-entry

BUENOS AIRES -- Just hours away before the Academy's deadline for countries to submit films for Oscar consideration, the Argentine Film Academy announced on Friday that Pablo Trapero's crime thriller "Carancho" was selected as the Argentine candidate to nab a foreign-language Oscar nomination.

The election featured a rather low participation (only 78 of the Academy's 246 members) and resulted in Trapero's thriller winning the slot with 20 votes that placed it over its two main competitors, Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat's "The Man Next Door" (13) and Daniel Burman's "Dos hermanos" (10).

Produced by Matanza Cine (Argentina) in association with Patagonik, Ad Vitam Production (France), L90 Producciones (Chile) and Fine Cut (South Korea), "Carancho" faces the difficult challenge of repeating the feat of "The Secret in Their Eyes," the film directed by Argentine Film Academy President Juan Jose Campanella that took home the Oscar in the last edition.

Starring Argentine star Ricardo Darin and rising actress Martina Gusman (Trapero's wife and also the film's executive producer), "Carancho" stands distant from the high-budget, Hollywood-style elements of last winner "The Secret in Their Eyes," which also starred Darin.

With some very different and more realistic approaches, the story takes place in the rough settings of the Buenos Aires suburbs and involves an ambulance-chasing lawyer (Darin) and a young paramedic (Gusman) who get involved after one of the accidents he regularly stages to cash-in a cut of the victim's compensation goes terribly wrong. The film's raw and violent story is embedded against Argentina's outrageous statistics on car-crash related fatalities (22 per day, 8,000 a year), which is reportedly the main cause of death among people under 35 as well as a huge market for insurance fraud.

Earlier this year, the film premiered in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section and was later picked up by Strand Releasing for an early 2011 U.S. release, which some believe could favorably balance "Carancho's" chances to bring home Argentina's third Oscar, after "The Secret in Their Eyes" and Luis Puenzo's "The Official Story," winner of the category in 1985.