Nadine Labaki has just got one step closer to an Oscar nomination. For the first time, on Monday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the shortlists of semi-finalists in nine separate categories all at once. The categories are foreign-language film, animated short, documentary feature, documentary short, live-action short, makeup and hairstyling, visual effects, original score, and best original song.
The Lebanese director’s Capharnaüm is among the films shortlisted for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category, alongside Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Shoplifters, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, the Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra-directed Birds of Passage, Gustav Möller’s The Guilty, Never Look Away directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Ayka. The nine films were selected from a field of 87 submissions.
“After years of research, tears and sweat, long production hours and sleepless nights, our film has been recognized on this year’s Foreign Language #Oscar shortlist among 8 other films from a selection that exceeded 80 submissions from all around the world. We couldn’t be prouder. Thank you @TheAcademy for this immense honor,” wrote Labaki on Instagram. “What an incredible moment in our film’s journey and a major milestone for Lebanese and Arab cinema.”
Indeed, Lebanon has submitted 15 films for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film since 1978, with Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult being the first film nominated for the award in 2017. Should Capharnaüm receive a nomination, it will be the second film from Lebanon to do so.
The news comes shortly after it was announced that the movie, which already took home this year’s Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Golden Globes as well as for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards.
Capharnaüm tells the story of a neglected 12-year-old boy in Beirut, who takes his parents to court for giving him life in a world of pain and suffering. It received a 15-minute standing ovation following its premiere at Cannes in May. Labaki, who made her directorial debut with 2007’s critically acclaimed Caramel (in which she also played the lead role), is hotly tipped to enter the Oscars race with Capharnaüm.
The nine movies on the list will be narrowed down to five when the official nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on January 22, with one month before the Oscars.