NEW YORK -- The foreign language Oscar competition this year will be wider than it ever has been before.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday that a record 73 countries, plus Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Palestinian territories, have submitted their entries to the Academy Awards.
The acclaimed Wadjda from Saudi Arabia, about an 11-year-old girl's quest to obtain a bicycle, is the country's first submission. All God's Children is also the first entry from Moldova. Montenegro, previously a part of Yugoslavia, submitted a film for the first time as an independent country: Ace of Spades.
Entries are restricted to one per country. They will be whittled down to a short list in January before the Oscars on March 2.
The foreign language category voting process has often been criticized, particularly for its practice of allowing the initial choices to be made by national selection committees. In an effort to smooth out the final selection, all academy members will for the first time be allowed to vote on the foreign language film category.
Previously, voting was limited to members who viewed all five nominees in a theatre. DVD screeners of the nominees will be sent to members this year.
-- The Associated Press