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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Palestinian film joins Oscar race
Manal Khader
Divine Intervention won the jury prize at Cannes in 2002
A Palestinian film has entered the Oscars race for the first time this year, along with a record 54 other entries for best foreign film.

Palestine is not recognised as a nation but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to make "an exception".

The academy, which runs the awards, has made the exception for several years regarding Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Divine Intervention is about life under Israeli occupation.

The drama is joined by two other first-time entries for 2004, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.

Divine Intervention, directed by Elia Suleiman, has received critical acclaim and picked up the jury prize at Cannes in 2002.

Life under the Taliban regime
Afghan film Osama is also among those in the running
This year, Academy spokesman Jon Pavlik told industry magazine Variety: "The committee decided to treat Palestine as an exception in the same way we treat Hong Kong as an exception.

"It's always the goal of the foreign-language film award executive committee to be as inclusive as possible."

Sri Lanka's first entry, Mansion by the Lake, tells of a widow's return to her home after spending years living in London.

Mongolia's film is a Gobi desert documentary, The Story of the Weeping Camel, by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni.

Films from Bolivia, Bulgaria, South Korea, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran and Taiwan are also among those submitted.

Other notable entries include Afghanistan's film Osama by Siddiq Barmak, about life in the war-torn country under the Taliban regime.

The film picked up the top prize at Montreal's New Movie New Media Festival earlier this month.


Another festival winner is Russia's entry, Andrei Avyagintsev's The Return, which was awarded the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

Hong Kong's offering is titled Internal Affairs, while Taiwan's entry is Goodbye, Dragon Inn by Tsai Ming-Liang.

The number of entries beats last year's previous record of 54 by just one film.

The 55 entries will be whittled down to just five nominees, which will be announced in Los Angeles on 27 January.

The winner will be chosen from five finalists and announced at the Oscars ceremony on 29 February.

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