Russia floats 'Mermaid' for Oscar race

Anna Melikyan's film has reaped international awards

MOSCOW -- Director Anna Melikyan's "The Mermaid" (Rusalka) will represent Russia in the race for the 2009 foreign-language film Oscar.

Produced by Magnum for Central Partnership, "The Mermaid" has won both domestic and international awards. Its star, Masha Shalayeva, took home the best actress award last year at Russia's Kinotavr film festival. The film later claimed the FIPRESCI Prize for the Panorama sidebar at the Berlinale and the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance.

Melikyan told Russian TV channel Rossiya that she was surprised by the committee's decision and happy that "The Mermaid," her second film, was selected.

Russia's previous entry for the foreign-language Oscar race, Nikita Mikhalkov's "12," won a nomination.