Pencils down, foreigners! Wednesday was the deadline to submit a film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration in the Best Foreign-Language Film award at the Oscars, and 51 countries came up with something. Nations with particularly active film industries, such as Spain, France, and Italy, submit something pretty much every year; at the other end of the spectrum, there's the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan, which submitted a film (Captain Abu Raed) this year for the very first time.

If you're not familiar with the system, it works like this. (You can read the whole set of rules at the Academy's site.) Every country is allowed to submit only one film, and the Academy basically leaves it up to the individual nations to determine how that entry is chosen. The film need not have played in the U.S. yet (they usually have not, in fact), but it must have played theatrically for at least a week in its country of origin. It doesn't matter what language it's in, either, as long as it ain't English. Last year, Australia's submission was in Chinese. (For reals!)

The Academy's committee for this award sorts through the submissions and eventually narrows the field down to a nine-film shortlist. From that list, the five official Oscar nominees are chosen, and then of course there's one winner, which is usually about the Nazis.

Wikipedia has a complete list of this year's submissions, but I'll hit some of the highlights for you after the jump.
categories Oscars, Cinematical