The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it rejected Italy's entry for best foreign film because the movie about Palestinian-Israeli relations was not in Italian, as Academy rules require.
"Private," by director Saverio Costanzo, tells the story of a Palestinian family and Israeli soldiers forced to live together in the family's home. It was selected Thursday as Italy's candidate for the 78th Academy Awards, receiving four-fifth of the Italian film academy's votes.
"It has to be in the language of the native country," said Academy spokesman John Pavlick. "Everything would be eligible if you didn't have rules that narrowed the eligibility down to a reasonable number. As it is, there are 50 or 60 films that compete each year."
English, Hebrew and Arabic is spoken in the film, according to the Internet Movie Database.
The movie won the top award at the 2004 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. It stars Mohammed Bakri, an Israeli Arab actor who won the best actor award at the Locarno festival, and Israeli actor Lior Miller, according to the Istituto Luce, which co-produced the film.