Debut Family Drama 'The Japanese Dog' Is Romania's Oscar Candidate

Still from 'The Japanese Dog'

Robot Asian plastic pet is symbol for dysfunctional family in movie that premiered at San Sebastian and won top prize at Vilnius Film Festival

A poignant tale of family relations, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu's The Japanese Dog is Romania's nomination for best foreign language Oscar.

A feature debut that premiered last year at Spain's San Sebastian film festival, the movie tells the story of an elderly man (played by Victor Rebengiuc) picking up the pieces of his life after losing his wife and possessions in a flood.

The tragedy prompts the return of his son (Serban Pavlu), who has lived abroad for many years accompanied by his Japanese wife and a robot toy dog.

After years apart, father and son have a lot of work to do to repair family relations.

The film, which took top prize earlier this year at the Vilnius film festival in Lithuania, is produced by Tudor Giurgiu of Bucharest's Libra Film. Berlin's M-Appeal is handling international sales.

Only a few countries have so far put forward foreign language candidates, with Poland nominating Pawel Pawlikowski's haunting black and white film Ida; Hungary, Kornel Mundruczo's White God; and Turkey, Cannes Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

A slew of nominations is expected this month before the deadline for submissions Oct. 1. Nominations will be announced Jan. 15 next year, with the Academy Awards ceremony scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood.