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"Waltz with Bashir" will be one of the five finalists competing for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars on February 22, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday.

That makes director Ari Folman's animated film about his experiences during the first Lebanon war the eighth Israeli picture to be a finalist for this prize. Thus far, however, no Israeli film has won it.

The film had also been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film award, but did not make the finalists' list in this category.

Last week, however, "Waltz with Bashir" won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film.

Folman and his colleagues, who were watching the Academy press conference via the Internet, opened a bottle of champagne upon hearing the announcement.

"After winning the Golden Globe, I had expectations," he said. "It's a dream that's now running on its own energy. It began with us, took off, and now it's going forward on its own. Granted, I'm there, but something else is driving it now. I'm following the film and what happens to it, but I'm no longer in control of what happens, and this loss of control is actually nice."

The other four finalists are "The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Germany), "The Class" (France), "Revanche" (Austria) and "Departures" (Japan).