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New Oscar Rules for Foreign Films
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Oscar organizers announced two changes Friday for the 2006 foreign-language film category, changing the selection of the five finalists to a bicoastal process.   


Among the Chinese moviemakers who will be analyzing the impact, if any, are director Feng Xiaogang, who plans to submit his film The Banquet.   


Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Academy Awards, said the changes were "constructive but not earthshaking."  


For moviemakers outside the United States, an Academy Award can give their films worldwide distribution and boost ticket sales, making nominations of major importance.  


The first change broadens the group of Academy members who name nominees. Previously, a set of Los Angeles-based voters would pick a short list from which final nominees were chosen. But now that list will be derived from two phases of voting.  


In the first phase, several hundred Los Angeles Academy members will narrow the number of nominees to a nine-country short list. Generally, about 60 countries submit movies annually.   


The second phase will consist of 10 randomly selected members from the first group as well as 10 Los Angeles members not in the initial group, and 10 more members based in the New York area.   


That 30-person group will select the final five nominees during a three-day screening period on both US coasts.   


Ganis said the principal reason for the change was to permit working members of the Academy to participate without having to commit to the current months long screening process.   


The second change allows nominations for foreign films not using the language of their home country. For instance, a movie made in Italy in a Middle Eastern language can now be considered. Previously, a film had to be made in the language of its country of origin.   


The foreign-language Oscars have been key to opening the gate to global fame for non-English-language moviemakers, including Spanish director Pedro Almodovar (All About My Mother in 2000), Italian Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful in 1997) and Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000).


(Shenzhen Daily July 4, 2006)

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