HFPA president Lorenzo Soria said of the “Passion” decision, “Yes, we know Aramaic is not a spoken language and, yes, we know the film doesn't have a country of origin. But our bylaws state that when a film is in a language that is preponderantly non-English, it's a foreign-language film. We looked at our bylaws and we looked at the movie, and the match is there.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences did not consider “Passion” for its foreign-language race, because the Acad asks countries to submit films that feature one of the country's principal languages. In their view, “Passion,” in Latin and Aramaic, does not represent the work of any single country.
Now, granted, the Oscars and the Globes are American awards so it's understandable why they may slight the foreign movie market but The Passion of the Christ isn't a foreign film! It's an American film!
Okay, it's made by the Australian Mel Gibson (who oddly enough, was born in Peekskill, New York), but he's mainstream Hollywood, and he financed the film himself and got it disitributed when no other studio would touch it—a very American thing to do. But just because the dialog is in a dead language (or two dead languages) it's a foreign film? Or not, because no foreigners speak the language(s) anymore.
What's up with that?
I doubt George Lucas would get this treatment if he did the next Star Wars film in an entirely made up language (I personally think that would be cool), which must makes this all the more silly.