Oscar 2007: Which Film Will be France's Official Entry

Julian Schnabel's “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” which won the Best Director Prize at Cannes Fest in May, will not be France's official entry for the Foreign-Language Oscar.

Schnabel's biopic was well-liked by most critics when it played in competition, though some fopund it to be too arty and even pretentious. It was one of the top-rated films on the list of the Fipresci Critics Jury, of which I had the hoor to serve as the U.S. representative.

In France, “Diving Bell” made some $2.4 million (or 302,487 admissions), compared with “La Vie En Rose,” the Edith Piaf biopic, which was a huge hit at $41 million.

Miramax picked U.S. rights to “Divine Bell” and will release the picture in late fall.

The official Oscar submission may be someothing ore indigenous, like the period romance “Moliere,” which grossed $9 million in France, but is struggling at the box-office here in the U.S.

“Diving Bell” is ineligible because it's considered an American production with foreign elements. The Academy rules dictate that two out of three categories–writer, director and producer–must be from the submitting country.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) does not have such a rule, which is how Mel Gibson's “Apocalypto” and Clint Eastwood's “Letters from Iwo Jima” were foreign-language nominees, and the latter actually won. This ruling was responsible for the omission of such high-regarded foreign-language films as Pedro Almodovar's “Volver,” which did not make it into the final cut.