Nine Arab filmmakers have been invited to join Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the organization behind the annual Academy Awards, or Oscars reaches out to a global membership.
The list includes four Egyptians — actress Yousra, director Amr Salama, and producers Mohamed Hefzy and Karim Amer — along with Lebanese cinematographer Christopher Aoun and production designer Hussein Baydoun, both of whom worked on the 2018 Oscar-nominated Capernaum.
Earlier this week the Academy extended invitations to 842 new members from 59 countries working in directing, acting and production.
The move is part of attempts by the Academy to diversify its roster of members and adopt a more inclusive and global approach.
The Academy also extended invitations to Syrian director Talal Derki, an Oscar nominee for best documentary for Of Fathers and Sons, and director Khadija Al-Salami, who won acclaim for her 2014 film I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced.
Tunisian director Raja Amari rounds off this year’s Arab intake to the Academy. Amari is best known for 2002’s film Satin Rouge.
The appointments from the Arab world form part of a growing wave of diversification within the Academy’s hallowed ranks. This year marked the first time female invitees made up half of the new intake, with 10 of the Academy’s 18 branches inviting more women than men, taking the total female representation now to 32%, up from 25% in 2015.
Among the best-known faces to receive indications this year were Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, Lady Gaga – who was invited by both the Academy’s actors and music branches following her Oscar-nominated turn in A Star is Born, and Captain Marvel and Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan.