The Oscar nomination for Mauritanian film Timbuktu, about daily life in the Islamist-occupied city, is a "great sign for Mauritania and Africa". The film made history earlier in the day, when all the Academy Award nominees were announced, by becoming the first Mauritanian film to be nominated in the best foreign film category.
"As soon as I heard about the nomination, I was overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling," the film's director Abderrahmane Sissako said in a statement.
"It is recognition of work done with the passion and commitment of women and men from different countries, united to defend universal values of love, peace and justice."
Sissako said he was "very touched" that the Academy had given Timbuktu a chance at winning one of the highest awards in world cinema."
The Franco-Mauritanian film has been nominated alongside Russian film Leviathan directed by Andrei Zviaguintsev, a Golden Globe award winner in the same category.
Other contenders include Polish film Ida from director Pawel Pawlikowski and the Argentinian director Damian Szifron's dark comedy Wild Tales.