L’Expression: L’Ecran libre – Arab films competing for the Oscars

Five films from the Arab World have been officially submitted to date, in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Oscars, including an entry from Somalia for the first time. The category examines films with predominantly non-English dialogue, including animated films and documentaries. A shortlist of 15 finalists will be announced on December 21, and five nominees will be announced on February 8, 2022. Last year, two films from the Arab World were nominated for Oscars in two different categories: The Man Who Selling His Skin, by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania in the category, Best international feature film, and The Present by Farah Nabulsi in the category, Best live action short film. Thus, Morocco presents Haut et Fort, Casablanca Beats by Nabil Ayouch being considered the first entirely Moroccan film to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it made its world premiere in July this year. Inspired by Ayouch’s own childhood experience, the film tells the story of a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Casablanca and the kind of change a new cultural center brings to its youth. Last week the film was screened on the red carpet at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt. The director, Nabil Ayouch, attends the press conference of Haut et Fort (Casablanca Beats), during the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, in France, July 16, 2021. For Palestine, there is the first feature film by Fakher Eldin, who both wrote and directed The Stranger. Set in the occupied Golan Heights, the film stars Ashraf Barhom and Mohammaed Bakri and tells the story of a desperate unlicensed doctor, going through an existential crisis, when he meets a man wounded in the war in Syria. The film won the Edipo Re Award for inclusion at the Venice Film Festival this year. The first Oscar submission from Palestine was Divine Intervention by Elia Suleiman in 2003. He has already received 2 nominations for best international feature film with Paradise Now (2005) and Omar (2013), both by Hany Abu-Asaad. Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s film The Gravedigger’s Wife has already made history. Presented as a world preview at Cannes Critics’ Week in July, it is the first Somali film to be submitted for the Oscars. The film won the Amplify Voices Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and the First Prize at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. It follows the love story of a gravedigger, trying to find ways to pay for his sick wife’s treatment. Somali-Canadian model Yasmin Warsame starred in her first acting role in The Gravedigger’s Wife. The Tunisian National Center for Cinema and Image announced earlier, last October, that Golden Butterfly, by Abdelhamid Bouchnak, had been selected to represent Tunisia at the Oscars. The film is the filmmaker’s third feature film. In 2020, Tunisia received its first Oscar nomination with The Man Who Selling His Skin from Ben Hania. He lost to Mads Mikkelsen with Another Round. Héliopolis has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria, after his nomination was withdrawn last year due to the pandemic of
Covid-19.

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L’Expression: L’Ecran libre – Arab films competing for the Oscars