Will three Arab films up for Oscars triumph Sunday?
by Özlem Sakin
Mar 01, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Özlem Sakin
Mar 01, 2014 12:00 am
Hollywood and the Middle East are eagerly awaiting Sunday's award ceremony after three Middle Eastern films were nominated for this year's Oscars
Threefilms from the Arab world - Egypt's "The Square," Palestinian thriller "Omar" and "Karama Has No Walls," set in Yemen, are in the running for awards for this year's Oscars. "The Square" was recently screened at the 13th !f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival and widely praised.
Described as "emotionally wrenching" by The Washington Post, "The Square" follows the stories of activists in Tahrir Square in Cairo from the overthrow of a 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak to last summer's military- led removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. The movie follows activists throughout the years of the still incomplete transition who demand justice and their rights.
The film, using footage from cameras, social media and videos on YouTube, tells the story of Egypt's post-Arab Spring transition through the eyes and the stories of these individuals.
Nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards, "The Square" premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and received the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary and the Best Feature award from the International Documentary Association.
Along with critical acclaim, it received near universal praise from audiences with a 100 percent "fresh" rating on the popular movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. "This film and this nomination are in honor of the Egyptians who are still struggling for their hopes and dreams and for the blood of the thousands that have been sacrificed for the struggle for human rights and social justice," said movie Director Jehane Noujaim.
The crew's time spent in Tahrir Square, the once heart of the Egyptian Revolution, allowed them to witness the beauty, power and courage of the Egyptian people fighting for a better world, she said. "The Square" will also be released in theatres on Feb. 28 across Turkey. "Omar," nominated for the Foreign Language Film award, is the second film in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated from Palestine.
The Turkish audience had the chance to see "Omar" for the first time at the fourth International Malatya Film Festival. The film is now scheduled to hit theaters throughout Turkey on March 7.
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, the film is about Omar, played by Adam Bakri, who routinely climbs the separation wall built by Israel to see his girlfriend on the other side of a divided West Bank town. A baker by day and freedom fighter by night, Omar's fate changes when he decides to strike at the Israeli army with childhood friends and is arrested after being tricked into killing an Israeli soldier. Omar is left with no choice but to work as an informant for the Israeli agents.
Marking the second Academy Award nomination for Abu-Assad, "Omar" is a tale of love and betrayal and reflects the life and struggle in Israeli-occupied territories.
Abu-Assad also produced "Paradise Now," the first Palestinian film to be nominated for the Academy Awards back in 2005. "Omar" was also awarded at last year's Cannes Film Festival and recently won two major awards - Best Film and Best Director - at the Dubai International Film Festival. "Karama Has No Walls," nominated for the Best Documentary Short, focuses on the tragic events of the March 18, 2011 demonstration, dubbed the Friday of Dignity, which changed the course of the 2011 Yemeni Revolution. At least 53 people died after security forces attacked an Arab Spring-inspired protest.
The short documentary, directed by Scottish-Yemeni Sara Ishaq, uses footage from real events during the protests through the eyes of two cameraman and their fathers.