With representation—both on and off-screen—at the forefront of the movie industry, the Oscars announcing that 17 Arab filmmakers have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences comes as a welcome surprised.
A little over five years ago, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite came into prominence and ultimately changed the way in which the world viewed the globe’s biggest and most boisterous film awards.
With 819 new members invited to join the voting panel (which is comprised of 45 per cent women and 36 per cent people of colour), filmmakers of varying disciplines (screenwriters, sound designers, directors and producers to name a few) have been selected from across 86 countries.
From the region, Lebanese filmmaker Mounia Akl joins Tunisian-Canadian director Meryam Joobeur, Saudi-German director Ahmad Saleh and France-based director Damien Megherbi. Toufik Ayadi, the superstar producer of 2019’s hit film ‘Les Miserables’ joins the panel along with Lebanese sound designers Khaled Mouzanar (‘Capernaum’) and Rana Eid (‘You Will Die at 20’). Palestine and Jordan are represented by ‘Between Heaven and Earth’ screenwriter Najwa Najjar, along with Tunisian film executive Tarak Ben Ammar.
The new additions are comfortably joined by a legion of existing Arab members of the Academy including Yemeni director Khadija Al-Salami, Tunisian director Raja Amari, Syrian director Talal Derki and Egyptian actress Yousra.