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China reportedly picks 'The Nightingale' for Oscars foreign-language category

China reportedly picks 'The Nightingale' for Oscars foreign-language category
A scene from the movie "The Nightingale," directed by Philippe Muyl. (Envisions Films / Stellar Mega Films Ltd / Pan Eurasia Films)

"The Nightingale," a modest and heartwarming story about an elderly man and his spoiled granddaughter who embark together on a journey with a caged bird, has reportedly been selected by China as its official foreign-language film entry for the Academy Awards.

Though it features a Chinese cast speaking Mandarin, the movie was written and directed by Philippe Muyl, a Frenchman, and was partially financed with French money. The film has already been released commercially in France.

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The news was first reported Saturday by The Hollywood Reporter, which said an official announcement is expected later by Chinese film officials. Muyl told the Times by email that he wasn't in a position to confirm the news at this time.

A spokeswoman for the Academy didn't respond to a request for comment.

China has never won an Oscar in the foreign-language category. In the past, the country has seen two of its films receive nominations --  "Ju Dou" and "Hero," both directed by Zhang Yimou.

"The Nightingale," whose French title translates to "The Bird Walker," bears some thematic similarities to Muyl's 2002 French film "The Butterfly," about an elderly man who strikes up a friendship with an 8-year-old girl. But the director states on his official website that the newer film isn't a remake.

The Academy's deadline for submissions for the foreign-language category was Oct. 1. Hong Kong's official submission is "The Golden Era," a biopic of the writer Xiao Hong from the acclaimed director Ann Hui.

Last year's Oscar winner for foreign film was the Italian film  "The Grand Beauty," directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT 

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