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UPDATED: October 9, 2014
China Selects Nightingale for Oscar Race

A Chinese-French joint production, The Nightingale, has been selected by China as its official foreign-language film entry for next year's Academy Awards, Guangxi Films Group confirmed.

The movie, directed by French director Philippe Muyl and starring Li Baotian, Yang Xinyi, Li Xiaoran and Qin Hao, is a heartwarming story about an elderly man and his spoiled granddaughter who go together on a journey with a caged bird in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The plot of the film resembles the director's 2002 film The Butterfly (Le papillon).

"The movie was chosen shortly before the National Day public holiday and will be announced officially after the holiday," an industry source told The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news last Saturday.

China invested more money into this movie than its French counterparts, and although it is a coproduction, the film's main characters are Chinese and the language is Mandarin. The film was already released in France in May, but will only see wide release in China in late October. To qualify for the Oscar race, the film was screened at several film festivals and was screened in a small circle in Guangxi for a week before the Oscar deadline of October 1, 2014.

Though the film was well-received by foreign audiences and film critics, Chinese audiences who have had a chance to see this film said on social media that the film is "just a beautiful scenery film for foreign audiences," and Muyl "doesn't really know China."

The news caused a small shockwave in the Chinese film industry, since many observers previously predicted that Diao Yinan's Golden Bear-winning thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice and Zhang Yimou's emotional "cultural revolution" (1966-76) drama Coming Home would be the most likely candidates.

Chinese mainland has never won an Oscar in the foreign-language category. Two of its films have received nominations -- Ju Dou and Hero, both directed by Zhang Yimou.

Hong Kong's official submission, The Golden Era, is a biopic of Chinese writer Xiao Hong directed by the acclaimed Ann Hui. Taiwan's submission is Midi Z's Ice Poison.

The only Chinese language film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won the Oscar in 2000 as the submission from Taiwan.

Last year's Foreign Language Film Oscar winner was the Italian film The Grand Beauty, directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

The Academy will announce a list of eligible submissions later in October. Nine finalists will be chosen from among the dozens of entries in mid-January 2015, and the final five nominees will be announced later that month. A total of 77 countries submitted their entries before the deadline.

(China.org.cn October 8, 2014)

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