On Sunday, Cairo's art-house Zawya, will be hosting an Oscar's night with screenings of two films by Arab directors Ave Maria and Theeb.
Both films are nominated to Academy Award, in different categories: Basil Khalil's Ave Maria will compete in the Live-Action Short Films category while Jordanian Theeb is nominated for best foreign language film Oscar.
The films will be screened during the 7.30 and 10 pm showings.
Directed by Basil Khalil, Ave Maria is a 14-minute comedy that tells the story of Palestinian nuns living in the middle of the West Bank and who have their daily routine of silence and prayer disrupted when a family of Israeli settlers’ car breaks down outside their convent at the beginning of the Sabbath. The family needs to get home but cannot operate the phone, while the nuns have taken a vow of silence.
The film is a French/German/Palestinian co-production, spoken in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. The film’s cast includes Maria Zareek, Hoda El-Imam, and Shady Srour.
Recently, Ave Maria won the Silver Egg award for Basil Khalil and the Vilko Filač Award for Best Cinematography for Eric Mizrahi at the 8th Küstendorf International Film and Music Festival in Serbia. On the same night, the film also received the Special Jury Recognition for Short Film award at Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF) in USA.
The film also received the Prix de Hermès (Best Short Film) award at Fréjus Short-film Festival and competed at the 3rd Sudan Independent Film Festival (SIFF) in Sudan, which which closed on 27 January.
Ave Maria is competing for Oscars along with Everything Will Be Okay (Austria), Shok (Kosovo), Stutterer (Ireland), and Day One (or Alles Wird Gut-U.S.).
(Photo: Still from Ave Maria)
Jordanian film Theeb – the debut feature for Naji Abu Nawar – tells the story of the young boy who accompanies his brother, an English soldier and his guide to a well near the newly established train tracks for his mission.
According to the director, all the actors with the exception of the British soldier Jack Fox, are actual members of the Bedouin tribes who are featured in the film. This gives the film the authenticity that transcends the screen in an organic manner.
Theeb is a result of year-long research by the director Abo Nawar and other screenplay writer of the film Bassel Ghandour, who spent time conversing and studying the Bedouin communities in the region.
Theeb has screened in the Toronto Film Festival, Venice Film Festival (where Abo Nawar won the New Horizons Award for Best Director) and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival earlier this month where it went home with even more awards: Best Film from the Arab World, FIPRESCI Prize for Best Narrative Feature.
Apart of its Oscars nomination, Theeb is also nominated to BAFTA awards, for Best Film not in the English Language and the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.
(Photo: still from Theeb)
7.30pm and 10pm, Sunday 14 February
Zawya, Cinema Odeon, Downtown, Cairo
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