Four Arab Films Are Nominated for an Oscar This Year

A small step towards representation in Hollywood

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From Nadine Labaki’s Oscar-nominated ‘Capernaum’ to Ramy Youssef’s recent Golden Globes win, over the last few years, we’ve bore witness to a steep rise in Arab talent across the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera.

So it should come as no surprise that when the list of Academy Awards 2020 nominations were released, four Arab films were announced as being in the running. Surprisingly, none have been flung in the Foreign Film category, instead they’ve been placed in the Action Short category as well as the Documentary Feature category.  

From Tunisia to Syria, here are the Arab films that are in the running for this year’s Oscars.

The Cave

A still from The CaveFayyad tells the story of Amani Ballour, a paediatrician working in a makeshift hospital in Eastern Ghouta. Risking her life, Ballour stays in her war-torn town to provide medical aid to the people. The film is nominated for Best Documentary feature. 

Adam by Maryam Touzani

a still from Adam by Maryam TouzaniFirst screened at the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival this year, ‘Adam’ has been building Oscars buzz ever since. The film, which marks Touzani’s directorial debut, tells the story of a woman named Abla who runs a bakery in Casablanca whose life is interrupted after an unmarried pregnant woman knocks on her door.  

Brotherhood

a still from BrotherhoodDirected by Tunisian filmmaker Myriam Jeboor. The film is cantered around a Tunisian man who returns to his homeland with a Syrian wife that wears the niqab. The man is faced with familial suspicion that he had been secretly fighting for ISIS, igniting tensions between the couple, and the family. ‘Brotherhood’ is nominated in the Live Action Short Film category. 

Nefta Football Club

a still from Nefta Football ClubAlso nominated in the Live Action Short Film category is ‘Nefta Football Club’. Directed by French director Yves Piat, the film stars young actors Eltayef Dhaoui, Mohamed Ali Ayari, Lyes Salem and Hichem Mesbah. The film tells the story of children living in a Tunisian village, where they play football on a wasteland. They wind up finding a donkey with headphones on his ears and bags full of white powder on his back. The young brothers end up taking the bags back.

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