Italy's national cinematic association has chosen Matteo Garrone's film "I, the Captain" for the Italian Oscar proposal.

"I, the Captain" tells the touching story of two Senegalese youths who decide to leave Dakar to try their luck in Europe. Their journey leads them to grueling treks across the Sahara, torture in Libyan prisons amid Europe's indifference to their plight.

This film was chosen "because it embodies with great strength and cinematic mastery the universal desire to seek freedom and happiness," the association explained.

"I, the Captain" was also presented at this year's Venice Film Festival.

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"We are proud to represent Italy," director Matteo Garrone said, adding that he hoped his film "will touch the hearts of American audiences."

The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has selected five films to be nominated for Best International Film from among its nationals.