Four Arab directors named to US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Ahram Online , Tuesday 5 Jul 2016

Haifaa al-Mansour from Saudi Arabia, Basil Khalil from Palestine, Naji Abu Nowar from Jordan, and Abdellatif Kechiche from Tunisia have been announced among new members of the Academy

Arab directors

Four Arab filmmakers were recently added to the list of members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a USA-based body, best known for the distribution of the Academy Awards.

According to a press release issued by MAD Solutions, a Cairo-based company that specialises in public relations and marketing for the film industry, the directors are Haifaa Al-Mansour from Saudi Arabia (Wadjda), Basil Khalil from Palestine (Ave Maria), Naji Abu Nowar from Jordan (Theeb), and Abdellatif Kechiche from Tunisia (Blue is the Warmest Color).

Haifaa al-Mansour is the first female Saudi director to succeed in filming the first motion picture in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda, which was an official selection at the Venice Film Festival, winning three awards. Wadjda was also the very first Saudi film to be nominated for the Oscars and BAFTAs in the Foreign Language Film category. The film garnered 25 awards internationally. 

Basil Khalil garnered a lot of attention when his film Ave Maria won 20 awards in 11 months after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. The film was screened in 400 theaters across the United States and Europe.

Theeb was screened in 25 countries and won 18 film awards, including Best Director at the Venice Film Festival and three awards at the 12th Trans-Saharan International Film Festival in Zegura (Morocco). Abu Nowar also won the Variety magazine award for 2014 Arab Filmmaker of the Year.

Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche directed 5 films, most of which have gone on to win international awards. His most recent film Blue Is the Warmest Color gained a lot of attention when it was screened at the 66th Cannes Film Festival and won 83 awards and earned 93 nominations at international festivals.

"The Academy's official website revealed a list of 683 names of its 2016 members, describing them as filmmakers who distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures," MAD Solutions revealed.

Academy memberships are limited to artists working in the production of theatrically-released motion pictures. The membership is offered across 17 categories such as actors, directors, film editors, producers and writers.

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