The Academy Awards is regarded as the most famous and esteemed awards ceremony in the entertainment industry, honoring the best films of the year. Due to the pandemic next year’s ceremony has been postponed, expected to take place on Sunday, April 25, 2021, instead of the usual February schedule.
Bringing together the best talents from around the world, the award for Best International Feature Film invites every country across the globe to submit their best film. Then one film from each country is selected. The 93rd Academy Awards selection sees five stellar Arab films from Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Palestine, Lebanon, and Algeria submitted for the coveted award.
You Will Die at Twenty – Sudan
Written and directed by Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala, You Will Die at Twenty was recently submitted as Sudan‘s official nomination for the Best International Feature Film, being the country’s first-ever submission. The drama film centers around a holy man of a remote village who predicts that a newborn boy will die when he becomes 20 years old. You Will Die at Twenty premiered last year at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival to critical acclaim and received the Lion of the Future Award, the prestigious Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a debut film. It also featured at the recent El-Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, winning the Golden Star award for best narrative feature.
200 Metres – Jordan
Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh’s debut feature film 200 Metres is Jordan’s official submission for the Oscars. The film tells the story of a Palestinian family whose life is torn apart by the separation wall, with father Mustafa, played by acclaimed actor Ali Suliman, who is desperate to return to Israel his sick son. Since premiering at the Venice International Film Festival in September, 200 Metres has received numerous accolades, including the Star for Best Actor award for Suliman, at the El-Gouna Film Festival.
Gaza Mon Amour – Palestine
Palestinian drama film Gaza Mon Amour, directed by twin brothers Tarzan and Arab Nasser, is inspired by a real-life tale. It centers around a 60-year-old fisherman Issa who is secretly in love with a local market dressmaker, Siham. The film had its premiere at this year’s Venice International Film Festival and was later screened at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Netpac award.
The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia
The Man Who Sold His Skin, written and directed by Kaouther Ben Hania, stars Yahya Mahayni, who plays a young and impulsive Syrian, Sami Ali, who flees the war and moves to Lebanon. There he meets a contemporary artist, who turns Ali’s body into a prestigious piece of art, thus compromising his freedom. The film took home two awards from the Venice International Film Festival, including the Edipo Re Award for Hania, one of the festival’s collateral prizes.
Heliopolis – Algeria
Directed by Djaffar Gacem, this Algerian drama is based on the real-life events of May 8, 1945, and the attack on the city of Guelma, formerly known as Heliopolis. May 8 is considered a day of mourning in Algeria when the country remembers the attack on thousands of Algerians by French colonial forces. The film, tells the story of one Algerian family in the midst of the attack. This is Algeria’s first Oscar entry since Costa-Gavras’s Z in 1970, which was also the first Arab film to win an Oscar.
Broken Keys – Lebanon
Award-winning filmmaker Jimmy Keyrouz’s Broken Keys is Lebanon’s official submission for the Oscars. The film revolves around Karim, a young pianist who tries to escape his persecuted Middle Eastern town, occupied by Daesh terrorists, where modern ways of living and music have been banned. He dreams of fleeing to Europe and becoming a musician. If selected, this would mark Lebanon’s third film nominated for an Oscar, following Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult in 2017 and Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum in 2018.