Advertisement Close

Hollywood Glory: The 2 Arab Movies That Might Win an Oscar in 2024

posted on: Oct 20, 2023

The Arab film industry, spanning many different nations, is a competitive field. Hundreds of movie companies compete to showcase their work on the global stage, but only a chosen few get to fulfil their ambition.

Hollywood’s Oscars ceremony is the stage for the cream of the crop to receive international acclaim, and this year’s event could feature two entries from the Middle East.

Yemen has officially put forward director Amr Gamal’s latest work, The Burdened as its submission in the Oscars’ international feature film category. Meanwhile, Tunisia has entered the race with Kaouther Ben Hania’s Four Daughters.

This move places both movies on the shortlist for potential Oscar nominations. If these Arab cinematic gems make it to the shortlist, they stand a chance to compete for the prestigious Academy Awards in 2024.

But what are these movies about, and do they stand a chance of landing the famous statuette? Read on to find out.

The Burdened

For director Amr Gamal, The Burdened marks his second attempt at the Oscars. In 2018, his romantic comedy 10 Days Before the Wedding represented Yemen in the same category. 

The Burdened had its grand debut at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, where it earned two important accolades, including the Amnesty International Award and the Panorama Audience Award.

The movie is set in Aden, one of Yemen’s largest cities. It tells the real-life tale of a young couple, Ahmed and Isra’a. When Isra’a discovers she is pregnant, the couple is faced with a profound dilemma. They wish to abort the child but, in a society where something as innocuous as watching a risqué movie scene or playing a free online casino game is frowned upon, they risk drastic consequences should anyone find out.

Their desperate quest for medical assistance leads to numerous rejections from doctors, compounded by Isra’a’s anemic condition, making the traditional route perilous. Ahmed implores Isra’a’s close friend, Dr. Muna, for help, but Muna hesitates, torn between her personal beliefs and Isra’a’s dire circumstances.

Facing a dead end, Ahmed takes a risky step by engaging a traditional midwife to perform the abortion at home, but Muna intervenes in the nick of time. Eventually, under immense pressure, Muna agrees to conduct the surgery, but the aftermath leaves Isra’a haunted by guilt.

Gamal tells the story in such a way that it’s bound to leave its mark on viewers and explains why it’s in the running for the top prize.

Four Daughters

Four Daughters presents a blend of fact and fiction, creating a unique narrative that delves into the heartbreak of Olfa Hamrouni, a mother from Sousse, Tunisia. Her story made headlines when two of her daughters, Rahma and Ghofrane, left their family behind to join Islamic State in Syria. 

Director Kaouther Ben Hania manages to convey genuine emotional warmth and human empathy through her telling of the story. It unfolds through reenactments featuring the remaining sisters, Eya and Tayssir, playing themselves, while actors Ichraq Matar and Nour Karoui step into the roles of the missing daughters.

The blending of performers and real-life individuals interviewed together adds an intriguing layer to the storytelling. As scenes are played out, Olfa’s presence on screen offers insight into their emotions and actions. The actor Majd Mastoura’s portrayal of Olfa’s distant and abusive father is another powerful inclusion.

The real strength of this film lies in the presence of the women on screen. The genuine emotions and connections that emerge as the real sisters meet their on-screen counterparts is incredible to watch. 

In the end, Four Daughters is an absorbing exploration of a mother’s heartbreak and the complexities of family dynamics tinted with tragedy and radicalization and is worth the time of anyone interested in this unique story.

Could they win?

The race for Oscar gold is always intense, filled with the finest cinematic talent the world has to offer. 

The Middle Eastern contenders are among the strongest that the region has ever produced. Both The Burdened and Four Daughters bring unique narratives to the table, making them strong contenders.

The odds of either winning, though, are quite small. The Foreign Film category has several other solid entries, like the UK’s Zone of Interest and France’s The Taste of Things, that experts predict will win on the big night.

Whether they secure the coveted prize or not, these Arab gems have already made their mark in the world of cinema, offering thought-provoking narratives that deserve recognition. The 2024 Oscars will reveal whether they will bring Hollywood glory home.

Please note that this post was written by a third-party and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arab America or its employees. These posts help allow Arab America to produce our wonderful original content, thanks for your understanding.

Don’t forget to check out Arab America’s blog!