Quebec film Monsieur Lazhar is a step closer to earning an Oscar nomination, after it was included in a list of nine films advancing to the next round of voting for the Academy Awards.
The final list of five nominees will be released next Tuesday by the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.
Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Quebec’s Philippe Falardeau, is the story of an Algerian immigrant who helps a class of middle-school students deal with the loss of their regular teacher. It was chosen by Telefilm as Canada’s submission for the foreign-language film Oscar.
It earned nine nominations, including best picture, for Canada's Genie Awards on Tuesday. At the time, Falardeau told CBC News he didn’t think the film would go all the way to the Oscars.
"Although we are wishing to be on the shortlist, I myself don't think we have a very good chance of going to the Oscars. But the whole ride has been fun in the past months," he said.
Its competitors in the Oscar race include Iran’s A Separation, which won the Golden Globe for best foreign film on Sunday, and Pina, Wim Wenders’ 3D dance documentary, which has earned acclaim at festivals around the world.
The remaining contenders are:
- Belgium, Bullhead, directed by Michael R. Roskam.
- Denmark, Superclasico, directed by Ole Christian Madsen.
- Israel, Footnote, directed by Joseph Cedar.
- Morocco, Omar Killed Me, directed by Roschdy Zem.
- Poland, In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland.
- Taiwan, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, directed by Wei Te-sheng.
This list will be winnowed down to five finalists by specially invited committees in New York and Los Angeles. They will vote for their choices on Sunday, with the nominees for all Oscar categories announced Tuesday.
The Academy Awards celebrating outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.
Monsieur Lazhar hits theatres in Toronto and Vancouver beginning Jan. 27.