Italy on Monday announced its candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, selecting timely documentary Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare). The pic by Gianfranco Rosi is a study of the island of Lampedusa, which has become a metaphor for the flight of refugees to Europe. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in February and next screens at the New York fest. Rosi previously won the Venice Golden Lion in 2013 with another doc, Sacro Gra.

Kino Lorber picked up Fire at Sea for North America just after its Berlin win and tells Deadline it is also being pushed in the Documentary race alongside Foreign Language.

That might come as some solace to Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino, who was on the Foreign Language selection committee at Italian film board ANICA. He reportedly did not agree with the body’s decision, quoted by daily La Repubblica today as saying the choice of Fire at Sea — which he called “a fantastic movie” — might have weakened Italy’s chances for two potential gold statuettes this year.

The committe chose from a shortlist of seven movies. Sorrentino, per La Repubblica, blamed the group for “a pointless, masochistic exercise in undermining Italian cinema, which could have submitted two films to compete for an Oscar this year: a fiction film which I believe would have stood a very good chance is Indivisibli by Edoardo De Angelis, whereas Fuocoammare would be capable of competing, and winning, in the documentary category.”

Kino Lorber is pushing Fire At Sea in both races. Its Golden Bear win marked the first time that a feature-length documentary received that award (likewise, Rosi’s 2013 Sacro Gra was the first doc to ever scoop Venice’s Golden Lion).

Fire At Sea has been growing its profile. It’s made the festival rounds since the Berlin premiere — most recently it screened in Telluride and Toronto. Opening October 21, after the NYFF bow, it will play Lincoln Plaza, IFC Center in New York and the Royal in LA. It’s also short listed for the European Film Award for Best Documentary.

Kino Lorber’s recent Oscar nominations include 5 Broken Cameras in Documentary and Dogtooth and Beaufort in Foreign Language.

Fire At Sea appears to be hitting a mark, especially given the very contemporary subject. When Rosi accepted the Golden Bear last February, he dedicated it to the inhabitants of Lampedusa “who were always accepting to people arriving there.” Of the refugee crisis, he said, “It is not acceptable that people die crossing the sea to escape from tragedy.”

Italy has won 11 Foreign Language Oscars, including with Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty in 2013. Outside those wins, it has been nominated 17 times in the category.

Here’s the running list of submissions to the category this year:

  • 2016 Foreign Language Film Oscar Submissions

  • AfghanistanParting – Navid Mahmoudi
  • AlbaniaChromium – Bujar Alimani
  • AlgeriaThe Well – Lotfi Bouchouchi
  • ArmeniaEarthquake – Sarik Andreasyan
  • AustraliaTanna – Bentley Dean & Martin Butler
  • AustriaStefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe – Maria Schrader
  • BelgiumThe Ardennes – Robin Pront
  • BoliviaSealed Cargo – Julia Vargas-Weise
  • Bosnia and HerzegovinaDeath in Sarajevo – Danis Tanovic
  • BrazilLittle Secret – David Schurmann
  • Bulgaria Losers – Ivaylo Hristova
  • ChileNeruda – Pablo Larrain
  • Colombia Alias Maria – José Luis Rugeles Gracia
  • CroatiaOn the Other Side – Zrinko Ogresta
  • CubaThe Companion – Pavel Giroud
    Czech Republic Lost in Munich – Petr Zelenk
    Denmark Land of Mine – Martin Zandvliet
    Dominican RepublicSugar Flower – Fernando Baez Mella
  • EgyptClash – Mohamed Diab
    EstoniaMother – Kadri Kõusaare
  • FinlandThe Happiest Day inn the Life of Olli Maki – Juho Kuosmanen
  • FranceElle – Paul Verhoeven
  • GeorgiaHouse of Others – Rusudan Glurjidze
  • GermanyToni Erdmann – Maren Ade
  • GreeceChevalier – Athina Rachel Tsangari
  • Hong KongPort of Call – Philip Yung
  • HungaryKills on Wheels – Atilla Till
  • IcelandSparrows – Rúnar Rúnarsson
  • IndiaVisaranai – Vetrimaaran
  • IndonesiaLetters from Prague – Angga Dwimas Sasongko
  • IranThe Salesman – Asghar Farhadi
  • IraqEl Clásico – Halkawt Mustafa
  • IsraelSand Storm – Elite Zexer
  • ItalyFire At Sea – Gianfranco Rosi
  • JapanHaha to Kuraseba – Yoji Yamada
  • KosovoHome Sweet Home – Faton Bajraktari
    KyrgyzstanA Father’s Will – Bakyt Mukul & Dastan Japar Uulu
    Latvia Dawn – Laila Pakalniņa
    Lebanon
    Very Big Shot – Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya
    LithuaniaSeneca’s Day – Kristijonas Vildziunas
    LuxembourgVoices from Chernobyl – Pol Cruchten
    MexicoDesierto – Jonas Cuaron
    Montenegro The Black Pin – Ivan Marinovic
    Morocco
    A Mile in My Shows – Said Khallaf
  • NepalThe Black Hen – Min Bahadur Bham
  • The NetherlandsTonio – Paula van der Oest
  • New ZealandA Flickering Truth – Pietra Brettkelly
  • NorwayThe King’s Choice – Erik Poppe
  • PakistanMah e Mir – Anjum Shahzad
  • PanamaSalsipuedes – Ricardo Aguilar Navarro & Manuel Rodríguez
  • PeruVideophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes) – Juan Daniel Fernández
  • PhilippinesMa’ Rosa – Brillante Mendoza
  • PortugalLetters from War – Ivo M. Ferreira
  • RomaniaSieranevada – Cristi Puiu
  • RussiaParadise – Andrei Konchalovsky
  • Saudi ArabiaBarakah Meets Barakah – Mahmoud Sabbagh
  • SerbiaTrain Driver’s Diary – Miloš Radović
    SingaporeApprentice – Boo Junfeng
  • SlovakiaEva Nová – Marko Škop
  • SloveniaHouston, We Have a Problem – Žiga Virc
  • South KoreaThe Age of Shadows – Kim Jee-woon
  • SpainJulieta – Pedro Almodovar
  • SwedenA Man Called Ove – Hannes Holm
  • SwitzerlandMy Life as a Courgette – Claude Barras
  • ThailandKarma – Kanittha Kwanyu
  • TunisiaThe Flower of Aleppo – Ridha Behi
  • UkraineUkrainian Sheriffs – Roman Bondarchuk
  • United KingdomUnder The Shadow – Babak Anvari
  • UruguayBreadcrumbs – Manane Rodriguez
  • VenezuelaFrom Afar – Lorenzo Vigas
  • VietnamYellow Flowers on the Green Grass – Victor Vu