Oscars: China Selects 'The Nightingale' for Foreign-Language Category (Exclusive)

Nightingale - H - 2013

Philippe Muyl's movie is a Chinese-French co-production and a surprise choice to vie for a spot on the shortlist of nominees

China has submitted The Nightingale (Ye Ying/Le promeneur d'oiseau), the second-ever official French-Chinese co-production, as the surprise candidate for best foreign-language film at the 2015 Oscars, industry sources told The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie sees French director Philippe Muyl adapt his 2002 film about the bond-building journey between an old man and a young girl to rural, southwestern China.

"The movie was chosen shortly before the National Day public holiday and will be announced officially after the holiday," the industry source said.

Due to the late hour, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television could not be reached for confirmation.

The Nightingale, which stars Li Baotian, Yang Xinyi, Li Xiaoran and Qin Hao is basically a Chinese take on Muyl's last feature The Butterfly (Le papillon).

It was co-written by Muyl and Ning Ning, who also produced alongside Qin Hong, Paul Delbecq and Steve Rene.

China has never won the foreign-language category, although Taiwanese director Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won the category in 2000.

Read more Field of Foreign-Language Oscar Contenders Begins to Come Into Focus

Among the big names mentioned were Jiang Wen's Gone With the Bullets, Coming Home by Zhang Yimou and Wolf Totem by the French director Jean-Jacques Annaud.

None made the cut because of various issues, with both Bullets and Wolf Totem not screening in time to make the cutoff deadline, the source said.

Last year, Feng Xiaogang's Back to 1942 was submitted by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, but it failed to make it on to the shortlist of nine movies from which the five Oscar nominees are chosen.

Zhang's The Flowers of War, which featured Christian Bale, was chosen in 2011 but it didn't win over the critics, despite box-office success in China. It was the seventh time one of his films was submitted in the category.