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Theeb readies for the Oscars

A scene from the film Theeb.
A scene from the film Theeb.

The new year began on a positive note for Arab filmmakers with two nominations for the Oscars. Sanad-funded Jordanian film Theeb is in the race for the Best Foreign Language Film while Palestinian film Ave Maria is vying for the Best Live Action Short Film at this year’s Oscars.

Theeb, was one out of seven Arab films considered for the 88th Academy Awards; three of which, including Theeb, were funded by SANAD, Abu Dhabi’s film fund powered by twofour54.

Theeb, by Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar, was selected along with four international projects from Denmark, Hungary, France, and Columbia, out of 82 films originally submitted to the Oscars’s foreign film category.

The nomination comes as testament to the impact Arab filmmakers are making in the international film industry and to SANAD’s success in supporting Arab talent to advance to high calibre events such as the Oscars.

Having travelled to more than 13 countries, Theeb has won more than 25 awards worldwide since its world premiere at Venice Film festival and its Arab premiere at Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014. The film has also received nominations for two BAFTA awards under the Best Film Not in the English Language category and the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category.

After a successful run at well over 50 film festivals in 27 countries, thereby amassing 10 awards in just seven months, Basil Khalil’s Palestinian short film Ave Maria has now been nominated for the 88th Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

The announcement was made by Mexican director, writer and producer Guillermo Del Toro and two times Oscar winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee live on ABC from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Ave Maria began its journey with its world premiere in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2015, also winning the prestigious Muhr Award at 12th Dubai International Film Festival. MAD Solutions, AVE MARIA’s Arab distributor, announced releasing the film in the Arab world within few weeks, marking the first of its kind for a short film in recent times.

The 14-minute comedy tells the story of an order of Palestinian nuns living in the middle of the West Bank wilderness. Their daily routine of silence and prayer is disrupted when a family of Israeli settlers breaks down right outside their convent, just as the Sabbath is beginning. The family need to get home but can’t operate the phone, and the Nuns have taken a vow of silence.