Mehta's Water earns Oscar nomination for best foreign film

Canada's entry for the Academy Awards, Deepa Mehta's Water, has earned a best foreign-language film nomination.

Canada's entry for the Academy Awards, Deepa Mehta's Water, earned a best foreign languagefilm nomination Tuesday.

It will compete against Denmark's After the Wedding, Algeria's Days of Glory, Germany's The Lives of Others and Mexico's Pan's Labyrinth.

"We're really elated," Mehta said in an interview with CBC Arts Online.

"It confirms for me something that I'd always thought — that Canada is not only a multicultural country,butalso a multilingual country."

When Canada chose Water as its Oscar contender in the foreign-language category, it was the first time a film in a language other than French has been chosen. Water was shot in Hindi.

"It's been very fulfilling to have that kind of recognition and it's important for people who are marginalized in the world," she said.

Sixty-onefilms from around the world were entered in the hotly contested category. A short list of nine films was released last week.

The main surprise in this category is that Pedro Almodovar's highly acclaimed Volver did not make the final cut.

Mehta said she was holding her breath when the films were announced in alphabetical order and there was one slot left — and it went to Water.

She heard the news in her Toronto study, in the company of her daughter, the film's producer and others who worked on the film.

"We were jumping up and down and hugging," she said. "It's great for Canada."

Water is the third film in a trilogy made by Mehta, beginning with Fire and Earth.

Chronicles widows' plight

Starring Seema Biswas, John Abraham and Lisa Ray, it is about the plight of widows in India during the 1930s.

It begins with eight-year-old Chuyia being sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia's feisty presence affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow, played by Ray, who falls for an idealistic young man.

Mehta began filming Water in India, but was forced to stopafter an outcry from Hindu nationalists who smashed sets and threatened the crew.

It took her five years to return to the film, which was shot in Sri Lanka.

"I was so angry after that and I didn't want my anger to affect Water," she said. "I had to distance myself from that anger before I could go back to it."

The film won three Genie Awards including best film, and Mehta was chosen best director by the Vancouver film critics circle. She also received the Freedom of Expression Award from the U.S. National Board of Review.

TheAcademy Awards areFeb. 25.Mehta will attend and said she plans to wear a sari.