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Middle Eastern Films to Root for at the Academy Awards 2020

Still from Adam. Courtesy

Between 1970 and 2019, only 11 Arab films have been nominated for the Best International Feature Film – formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film – at the Oscars.

Now, more than ever, the Arab film industry has been producing an increasing amount of films that highlight the diversity of the region. In 2019, Nadine Labaki‘s Capernaum and Talal Derki’s Of Fathers and Sons were the only two films from the region nominated for an Oscar, but there are bigger hopes for the 92nd Academy Awards.

At the most awaited awards show set to take place in February 2020, a handful of Middle Easterns films have been submitted to contend in the Best International Feature Film category. Here’s a look at each of the local cinematic pieces that might make it through to the Oscars. 

1. Representing Palestine: It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman

Elia Suleiman‘s film has taken the world of cinema by storm after it won the Jury Special Mention award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This satirical film is about a Palestinian man – played by Suleiman himself – who travels the world but faces the same problems and encounters as he would in his hometown.

2. Representing Morocco: Adam by Maryam Touzani

Very rarely does a debut filmmaker get the opportunity to have their work contend for an Oscar, but Maryan Touzani’s brilliant feature film could get her a ticket to the Academy Awards. Character-driven, taboo-busting, and beautifully-made, Adam tells the stories of two women, an unwed pregnant hairdresser and a widowed mother in Casablanca.

3. Representing Egypt: Poisonous Roses by Ahmad Fawzi Saleh

The Egyptian film first premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019. It featured Mahmoud Hemida and Merihan Magdi and shared the story of Saqr, whose profound love for his sister prevents him from fulfilling his dreams to live a life beyond the slums.

4. Representing Tunisia: Dear Son by Mohamed Ben Attia

Following his award-winning debut Hedi, Tunisian director Mohamed Ben Attia tells an impactful story with his latest film Dear Son. The thrilling film is about Sami, and his middle-class family, who’s growing concern for their son’s health eventually leads to an unfortunate incident.

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