'The Class' makes an Oscar pitch

French film won the Palme d'Or this year

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Laurent Cantet's junior high-set social drama "The Class" has been chosen to represent France in the Oscars, the Center National de la Cinematographie said Friday.

The winner of this year's Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes, the semi-documentary film is based on a book by former teacher Francois Begaudeau, who plays himself in the film. Other roles are played by nonprofessionals.

"The Class" will be released next week in France by producer/distributor Haut et Court. The movie will be released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics and will be the opening title at the New York Film Festival this month.

"The Class" was chosen to compete for a nomination in the best foreign-language category by France's seven-member selection committee, which includes Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux, actress Jeanne Moreau and directors Jean-Jacques Annaud, Costa-Gavras and Regis Wargnier.