Kosovo selects its first Oscar contender

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PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo has nominated an Oscar contender for the first time since it announced its independence from Serbia in 2008.

"Three Windows and a Hanging" by veteran filmmaker Isa Qosja was selected to represent the new Balkan nation at the Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Film.

The film examines a fictional village shaken after Serb forces raped some of its women during the 1998-99 Kosovo war — a sensitive issue that has largely been ignored in Kosovo's patriarchal society.

Kosovo authorities say up to 20,000 women may have been victims of rape at the time. The conflict hangs heavy over relations between the two former foes and Serbia fiercely objects to Kosovo's representation as an independent country.

"Should rape be considered shameful or as a misfortune?" the 66-year-old Qosja asked during an interview with The Associated Press. "In our tradition, rape has been treated as shameful and we have therefore kept silent over it."

Actress Arta Dobroshi, president of the selection committee, said she was on the brink of tears when the film was selected.

"We were dreaming of being able to send a film but were not allowed because we were not a country," Dobroshi said. "And now we are free and we are speaking freely and speaking about the Oscars."

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