Oscar shortlists 'Departures,' '3 Monkeys'

Films are the only Eastern contenders in the category

Related: THR's "Departures" review

BANGKOK -- Japanese director Yojiro Takita's "Departures" is the only Asian film to make the shortlist of nine movies chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the foreign-language film Oscar.

Also chosen from the 65 submissions was Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "3 Monkeys," from Turkey, which considers itself a Eurasian country.

Both films beat out such favorites as Italian director Matteo Garrone's mafia tale "Gomorrah."

Takita's lead character and his job shed light on life, death and forgiveness, the director told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview in December: "I wanted to make a film from the perspective of a person who deals with something so universal and yet is looked down upon, and even discriminated against."

"Departures," about a man who accidentally falls into a job ceremonially preparing corpses for burial, also is up for a dozen Japan Academy Awards and won the audience award at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

"3 Monkeys," about a family that chooses to ignore truth to endure hardship, garnered Ceylan the best director awards at the Festival de Cannes and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The five Oscar nominees will be announced Jan. 22.

Gavin J. Blair in Tokyo contributed to this report.