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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 12:55 GMT
Murdered director's film on Oscars list
The Oscars 2002
The next Oscars ceremony takes place in March
A movie by an Afghan director who was beheaded in New York last year is among one of a record number of entries for the best foreign picture prize at the Oscars.

The film, FireDancer, was directed by Jawed Wassel, who was killed in October 2001.

A producer on the film, Nathan C Powell, was charged with murder and accused of keeping Wassel's head in a freezer.

FireDancer will be up against 53 other films from Algeria to Yugoslavia, which are all vying to make it onto the Oscar nominations list.

It is the first Afghan film to be considered for an Oscar nomination.

'Angry'

FireDancer, about an artist who explores the Afghan American community in New York, was finished by Wassel's friends after his death.

Police arrested Mr Powell after finding body parts in his van and Wassel's head in his freezer.

Mr Powell's lawyer said his client was schizophrenic and that he grew angry after Wassel blamed the United States for instigating the 11 September attacks.

Roberto Benigni at the Oscars 1998
Roberto Benigni's new film is in the running
FireDancer has already been screened in Kabul's football stadium, where the Taleban once held public executions.

The Oscars jury will view all 54 films and pick five to be nominated for the prize of best foreign language film.

The UK's original entry, the Hindi-language The Warrior, has been dropped after controversy over the language.

An academy spokesperson said they did not allow it because Hindi is not a language indigenous to the UK and the film was not about the Hindu community in the UK, according to trade publication Screen Daily.

The Warrior has been replaced by Welsh film Eldra, the true story of a gypsy girl in the 1930s, which scooped awards at the Film Festival of Wales and Bafta Cymru.

And Palestine's drama Divine Intervention was not accepted because Palestine is not recognised as a "bona fide nation" by the academy, despite having a non-voting seat on the United Nations, according to Screen Daily.

Other entries include Pinocchio, directed and written by and starring Roberto Benigni, the Italian hero of the 1998 Oscars.

Nation dispute

Brazil's City of God and Sweden's Lilya-4 Ever are also among the favourites.

But Hong Kong film The Touch, produced by and starring Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh, has been ruled ineligible because most of the dialogue was in English and not Mandarin.

As well as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Chad will also have films considered for the first time.

The Academy Awards jury will announce the nominees on 11 February, six weeks before the glittering Hollywood ceremony.


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29 Nov 02 | Entertainment
13 Nov 02 | Entertainment
06 Nov 02 | South Asia
30 Oct 02 | Entertainment
01 Apr 02 | South Asia
25 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
25 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
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