Jordan and Palestine have submitted films to the 96th Academy Awards. Jordan entered "Inshallah a Boy" for Best Foreign Film, while Palestine submitted Lina Soualem's "Bye Bye Tiberias" for International Feature consideration. Both films are now in the running for the shortlist, a crucial step towards potential Oscar nominations.
"Inshallah a Boy" has already made waves on the international stage, marking its historic presence as the first Jordanian film to compete at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The film earned a spot in Cannes Critics' Week, a prestigious auxiliary event held alongside the 76th edition of the festival. The narrative of "Inshallah Walad," as it's known in Arabic, revolves around the plight of a young widow named Nawal and her daughter, who face the imminent loss of their home. Shot over five weeks in Amman, Jordan's capital, this 90-minute feature received crucial support from the Jordan Film Fund and the Royal Film Commission, securing production grants in 2019 and a post-production grant in 2022.
On the other hand, "Bye Bye Tiberias," a highly anticipated documentary by Lina Soualem, offers a captivating glimpse into the multigenerational stories of Palestinian women in her own family. Soualem, who hails from a diverse background—French, Palestinian, and Algerian—closely follows the experiences of her mother, Hiam Abbass, a renowned actress known for her roles in "Succession," "Ramy," "Inheritance," and "Munich." The documentary delves into Abbass's life journey as she returns to her native Palestinian village, three decades after she left in her early twenties to pursue her acting dreams in Europe, leaving behind her mother, grandmother, and seven sisters.
Furthermore, "Bye Bye Tiberias" is set to grace the Documentary Competition section of the 67th BFI London Film Festival, scheduled to unfold from October 4 to 15, 2023, adding another layer of anticipation and prestige to the film's journey.
While Jordan and Palestine are making waves on the Oscars front, they are not alone in representing the Arab world on the global cinematic stage. Egypt has entered "Voy Voy Voy!," starring Mohamed Farag, Yemen is vying with Amr Gamal's "The Burdened," and Tunisia is putting forth Kaouther Ben Hania's "Four Daughters." Morocco has also entered the fray with Asmae El Moudir's documentary gem, "The Mother of All Lies." These submissions reflect the rich and diverse storytelling talents that continue to emerge from the Arab film industry, showcasing their contributions to the world of cinema.