One of the toughest contests at the Oscars is for the honor of Best International Feature Film. Competing with the best movies from all over the world, it is a tremendous accomplishment to be named one of the five films that make it into the final round — and the process starts by a country submitting its official choice, before the organization behind the Academy Awards whittles down the official selection at a later date.
Four Arab countries have so far submitted their candidates for the Oscars before the 94th Academy Awards take place on March 27, 2022.
They are “Casablanca Beats” by Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, Palestinian director Ameer Fakher Eldin’s “The Stranger,” Abdelhamid Bouchnak-directed “Golden Butterfly,” which is Tunisia’s entry, and Algerian director Djafar Gacem’s “Heliopolis.”
A shortlist of 15 finalists will be announced on December 21, with five nominees announced on February 8, 2022.
Meanwhile, “The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus has been submitted as Somalia’s entry, marking one of many to come from the African continent.
“The Gravedigger’s Wife,” which tells the story of a gravedigger trying to find ways to pay for his sick wife’s treatment, is the first Somali film to be submitted for the Oscars.
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As for the Arab submissions so far, Ayouch’s “Casablanca Beats,” which had its world premiere in July, is based on the director’s own childhood experience and was the first fully Moroccan film to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Meanwhile, Eldin’s debut feature is about an unlicensed doctor who encounters a wounded man in the war in Syria. The film won the Edipo Re Award for Inclusion at the Venice Film Festival this year.
“Golden Butterfly” is the Tunisian filmmaker’s third feature.
As for Gacem’s “Heliopolis,” it has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria at the prestigious awards, after its nomination was withdrawn last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. the Algerian drama is based on the real-life events of May 8, 1945, where French colonial forces attacked thousands of Algerians in the city of Guelma (called Heliopolis in ancient times). If “Heliopolis” is selected, it would be Algeria’s first entry since Costa-Gavras’s 1970 film “Z,” which was also the first Arab film to win an Academy Award.
Source: Arab News