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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Countries choose Oscar contenders
Paheli actors Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee
Paheli was unanimously chosen by India's Film Federation jury
India and China have chosen their contenders for next year's foreign film Oscar, putting forward Bollywood movie Paheli and Chen Kaige's The Promise.

Paheli (Riddle) tells of a ghost who falls in love with a woman, then takes the form of her husband to be with her.

Fantasy epic The Promise was billed as the most expensive Chinese production ever, with a budget of $30m (17m).

Hong Kong selected Peter Chan's musical Perhaps Love as its Oscar candidate, Screen International reported.

'Competition very tough'

Denmark has submitted comedy Adam's Apples by Anders Thomas Jensen, said Variety.

Ninety-one countries have been invited to submit movies for consideration for next year's foreign film Oscar.

In India a 10-member Film Federation jury unanimously chose Paheli from 15 contenders.

Directed by actor turned film-maker Amol Palekar, it stars Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee and is based on a traditional folk tale.

"This year, the competition was very tough. We saw each of the entries and finally, we all zeroed in on Paheli," federation chairman Vinod Pande told BBC News.

"We have to be sure the movie representing India at the Oscars must have cinematic excellence, outstanding sound, outstanding music and truly represent the area it comes from."

Early screenings

India produces more than 800 Hindi-language movies a year and its film industry has an estimated annual turnover of nearly $1.3bn (736m). It employs nearly six million people.

Indian entries to the Oscars have a poor track record of making it to the top five in the foreign film category, however.

Javier Bardem
The Sea Inside with Javier Bardem won last year's foreign film Oscar
Meanwhile fantasy epic The Promise, entitled Mo Gik in China, was approved by China's Film Bureau on Monday.

Its director Chen is one of China's best-known film-makers, having made Farewell My Concubine in 1993.

The Promise will not go on general release in China until December, but will be screened for one week this month in order to qualify for Oscar entry.

Japan's Perhaps Love was also screened early in order to qualify, and was also made with a US production partner.

Spanish drama The Sea Inside won the 2005 best foreign film Oscar. The 2006 Oscars will be held on 5 March at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

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