Asia lines up its Oscar hopefuls

It's been a decade since the first Asian production picked up an Oscar for best foreign film and there's only been one other winner from the region since.

But Asia is this year presenting an impressively diverse selection for consideration by the Hollywood-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all of them hoping to join Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Departures (2008) as winners of an award that was first handed out in 1957.

Leading the way this year is the Feng Xiaogang-directed Chinese blockbuster Aftershock, the all-time domestic box office leader in China with 660 million yuan (71 million euros) and a film which drew on the talents of production crew from all over the region.

But co-productions and collaborations are nothing new in the cinema industry; after all, legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala won the foreign film award - but for Russia - back in 1975.

The final nominations for best foreign film will be announced on January 25, 2011 and the 83rd Annual Academy Awards will be presented on February 27, 2011.

For regular updates on the awards and the ceremony, log on to http://www.oscars.org

In the meantime, here's a look at Asia's hopefuls:

Aftershock (China): Set in and around the aftermath of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. Director Feng Xiaogang mixes up action and drama - and was repaid at the box office. Stars Zhang Jingchu and Xu Fan.

A Barefoot Dream (South Korea): Surprise selection from South Korea is based on the true tale of an out-of-luck former footballer who heads to East Timor to teach kids how to play the game. Kim Tae-kyun directs, Park Hee-soon stars.

Confessions (Japan): A school teacher (Takako Matsu) plots revenge on the students who kill her child in this tense thriller based on a best-selling novel by Kanae Minato. Tetsuya Nakashima directs.

Echoes of the Rainbow (Hong Kong): Director Alex Law's gentle rumination on life for Chinese immigrants in the Hong Kong of the 1960s helped save a street set from demolition. Sandra Ng and Simon Yam star.

Monga (Taiwan): A gritty, realistic look at gang life in the Taipei of the 1980s that made more than Avatar in its first week of release. Ethan Ruan and Mark Chao star and it was directed by Doze Niu.

Peepli Live (India): A satire that focuses on a rash of suicides by Indian farmers was a hit at home for first-time director Anusha Rizvi, who was backed by the Bollywood kingpin Aamir Khan. Features unknowns Omkar Das Manikpuri and Raghubir Yadav.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand): Cited as a masterpiece by many - including the judges at Cannes who gave it their Palme d'Or. Apichatpong Weerasethakul weaves his production around an old farmer reflecting on life with the help of some ghosts (and an amorous catfish). Thanapat Saisaymar stars.

MS

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