The 18 members of the 39-member body who attended the committee's meeting on Thursday voted 11 to 7 not to nominate any Egyptian film for the 95th Academy Awards that will be held in March 2023.
The selection committee which nominates films for a submission to the Oscars is comprised of prominent filmmakers and critics who are appointed by the head of the Cinema Syndicate.
The final shortlist of films that were considered by the committee included: El-Gareema (The Crime) by Sherif Arafa; Amar 14 (Full Moon) by Hady El-Bagoury; the box office record-breaking Kira Wa El-Gin (Kira & El Gin) by Marwan Hamed, and B-19 by Ahmed Abdallah, which has not been released commercially.
Well-known film critic Tarek Elshennawi, a member of the committee, said on his Facebook page that despite his desire for a film to be nominated he believes the decision not to nominate was reached in a democratic way.
However, well-known director Magdi Ahmed Ali told Al-Nahar TV on Friday that, notwithstanding his respect for the various members of the committee, he believes that “the actual process of the naming of all the members of the committee by one individual, who in this case is the head of the syndicate, is both undemocratic and unrepresentative of the Egyptian filmmakers community."
Ali, a former member of the committee himself, had withdrawn his unreleased film ‘2 Talaat Harb’ from consideration by the committee for the Oscars to protest both the procedures for selecting the members who serve on the body as well as the body's inconsistent application of its commercial release prerequisite for accepting submissions.
No worthy films?
Egypt has been submitting films to the Oscars almost every year in the last 64 years since Youssef Chahine's Bab El-Hadid (Cairo Station) was submitted to the 31st academy in 1958.
In recent years, Egyptian submissions to the Oscars included We're Born (2019) by Tamer Ezzat; (Poisonous Roses, 2018) by Fawzi Saleh; Yomeddine (2018) by Abu Bakr Shawky; Sheikh Jackson (2017) by Amr Salama; Clash (2016) by Mohamed Diab; Factory Girl (2013) by Mohamed Khan; Winter of Discontent (2012) by Ibrahim El-Batout; and Lust (2010) by Khaled El-Haggar.
However, to date, no Egyptian feature film made its way into a short list of nominations for an award in the international feature film category at the academy.
Last year, the selection committee submitted Ayten Amin’s award-winning film Souad to the Oscars but the film was not accepted by the academy since it was not released commercially in time.
The committee's decision to pass on nominating an Egyptian film for the upcoming Oscars has also attracted much criticism from critics and movie lovers on various social media platforms.
Cinematic production in Egypt, a pioneer in film in the Middle East and the World, has been facing a serious crisis in recent years amid the expansion of various streaming services in the region and other challenges.
However, many commentators have pointed out that the works of several independent Egyptian filmmakers such as Yomeddine, Feathers and Souad have both contributed to developing Egyptian cinema, also garnering critics and viewers praise at various prestigious international events.