Egypt has officially entered the Oscars 2020 race with the movie Poisonous Roses (Ward Masmoum in Arabic). Directed by Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, Poisonous Roses was chosen by the Cinematic Professions Syndicate to represent the country in the 2020 Academy Awards competition for Best Foreign Language Film category.
The drama is based on Ahmed Zaghloul Al-Sheety’s 1990 novel, Poisonous Roses for Saqr, and has been shown in over 20 international film festivals following its premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018. It also won the special jury award at the Cairo International Film Festival.
Starring Ibrahim El Nagari and Marihan Magdy, the film tells the story of two siblings, Saqr and Tahya who live with their mother (portrayed by Safaa El Toukhy), in Cairo’s impoverished tannery district. The plot revolves around Saqr who dreams of escaping the life he lives but is tied to his job and the place due to his love for his sister.
Saleh is an Egyptian screenwriter known for producing a documentary in 2010 called Living Skin. The documentary also showcased a similar concept of people working and living in Cairo’s tannery district, which ended up winning several awards at international film festivals.
Egypt has been sending movies to enter the best international feature Oscars race since 1958. The first Egyptian movie to enter the Best Foreign Language Film category was Youssef Chahine’s Cairo Station and although it was not accepted as a nominee, it went down in history as the first African and the first Arab film to contend for the award.