Academy Award Submissions From Arab Countries
By: Mariam Alyakoob / Arab America Contributing Writer
The Oscars, or more formally known as the Academy Awards, is one of the most prestigious award ceremonies ever, celebrating phenomenal actors, films, designers, scripts, and more. You may also remember this year’s Oscars by the well known infamous slap from Will Smith to Chris Rock.
For the Arab world, the Oscars is an opportunity to showcase the impressive and versatile Arab cinema that is widely unknown outside of Arab countries. Arab countries are able to do this by submitting one film to the Academy. The submissions from each country are viewed by the Foreign Language Film Award Committee, which designates the five official nominations that could potentially win the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
Many Arab countries have had films that have made it to the shortlisted nominated films, while only one country has ever won this prestigious award. Algeria is the only Arab and Amazigh country that has won the award, winning it in 1969 for their political thriller movie called Z.
But many other Arab countries have been nominated for the Award, with the most recent being the Tunisian film, The Man Who Sold His Skin.
For the 95th Academy Awards, taking place on March 12th, 2023, there have been many submissions from Arab countries, hoping to receive an official nomination. Today we will be taking a look at each country and the film they have submitted. Underneath each description is the official trailer.
Algeria’s submission is the movie titled Our Brothers in English or Nos Frangins in French. The movie’s language is French and the events of the film take place in Paris, France in 1986. The movie revolves around a protest that results in the death of a man by the police, which is being covered up. The movie is directed by Rachid Bouchared, who is a french film director and producer, born to Algerian parents.
Iraq’s submission is a Kurdish film titled The Exam in English or Ezimûn in Kurdish. The film is directed by Shawkat Amin Korki, an Iraqi, Kurdish film director. The movie revolves around a young Kurdish woman who is about to take an entrance exam for university.
Jordan’s entry for the Academy Awards is the movie Farha, which is famous for having received praise from many Palestinian supporters and condemned by Israeli officials. The film is directed by Palestinian Jordanian film director, Darin Salim. Salim states that the movie is based on a true story inspired by a woman named Radieh, who told her life story to Salim’s mother while in Syria. Farha depicts the events of the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, from the perspective of a 14 year old Palestinian girl who is locked in a pantry by her father to help hide her from approaching troops. The movie is also available on Netflix.
Lebanon’s submission is called Memory Box, or دفاتر ماي in Arabic. The movie is directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, who are both from Beirut. The movie takes place in Montreal when a mother and a daughter receive a package on Christmas Eve with memories from 1980s Lebanon.
Morocco’s submission is called The Blue Caftan, directed by actress and filmmaker Maryam Touzani. The film also stars famous Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, who comes from an acting family, and who’s brother Adam, starred in the Palestinian Academy Award nominated film Omar. The Blue Caftan revolves around a couple who own a caftan store in Morocco, and who hire an apprentice to help with the store, but who also incites emotions with the couple.
Palestine’s submission is Mediterranean Fever or حمى البحر المتوسط in Arabic. The film is directed by Maha Haj, who actually won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for her film. The movie depicts a depressed Palestinian man who befriends his neighbors and gets into some trouble.
Saudi Arabia’s submission is a film called Raven Song or أغنية الغراب in Arabic. The movie is directed by Mohamed Al Salman, a Saudi film director who grew up in Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia.
The movie focuses on a man named Nasser, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Nasser becomes infatuated with a young woman and must figure out what to do before undergoing a serious and risky surgery.
Tunisia’s submission is the film Under the Fig Trees or تحت الشجرة in Arabic. The movie is directed by French-Tunisian director Erige Sehiri, who actually has her own production company called HENIA. The film depicts young women and men who develop feelings for one another while working amongst the trees during the summer harvest.
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