There are few surprises in the initial slate of submissions for Best Foreign Picture. Last year's submissions were fraught with controversy, as Austria's French-language entry, Caché was deemed ineligible by the Academy along with Italy's entry, Private, which was dinged for featuring Arabic and Hebrew but no Italian. This year a rule change has gone into effect that allows foreign picture submissions to feature any combination of languages (not just the dominant language of the submitting country) so long as the primary language is not English.
Canada's submission, the first to take advantage of the new rule, is Deepa Mehta's Water, a Hindi-language film starring Canadian-born actress Lisa Ray. Mehta, though born in India, is herself a Canadian resident. Water was the third in Mehta's controversial and political "elements" trilogy that started with Earth and Fire, and features a story centered around the plight of widows in India, who are often relegated to life of poverty. The tale of what Mehta went through just to make this film could be a movie in and of itself. Initially set to film in India, the set was shut down after numerous death threats when the Indian government determined it could not ensure Mehta's safety, and didn't start filming again for over three years.