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Quebec film 'Monsieur Lazhar' chosen as Canada's Oscar submission

A scene from "Monsieur Lazhar"

Véro Boncompagni

Philippe Falardeau's Monsieur Lazhar has been chosen as Canada's candidate for the 2012 Oscar race.

Telefilm Canada, which chairs the Oscar selection committee, said Wednesday that the "outstandingly crafted film" will be submitted for consideration in the best foreign-language film category.

Monsieur Lazhar won the best Canadian feature prize at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and also picked up prizes at the Locarno International Film Festival.

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"It made me feel very happy but dizzy at the same time because it's a long road," Falardeau said Wednesday when asked about his reaction to hearing the good news.

"People have to understand it's long process. I am not nominated at the Oscars. I am Canada's entry at the Oscars.

"But it's nice to see that people recognize the quality of the film and it's also a nice window for the launch of the film later on in Quebec."

Monsieur Lazhar is about an Algerian schoolteacher in Montreal who helps his students cope with the death of his predecessor, who committed suicide.

Telefilm Canada says the French-language feature was selected from among 34 eligible films.

"Philippe Falardeau has enthralled audiences and critics alike with an outstandingly crafted film that deals with touching themes," Carolle Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, said in a statement.

"The Oscar ceremony is an incredible springboard for both the movie and its country's film industry."

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The nominations for the 84th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 24. The awards will be held Feb. 26.

Monsieur Lazhar comes from the same Quebec producers as Canada's last Oscar contender, Incendies. Its director, Denis Villeneuve, lost to Denmark's In a Better World.

The last time a Canuck film won the category was in 2004 for Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions.

Canada is one of 65 countries set to submit their top film for consideration as a possible best foreign language film nominee.

The academy then votes to choose a short list of five films to be nominated in the category.

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