DUBAI: Egypt has selected Mohamed Farag-starring “Voy Voy Voy!” as its entry for the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film award, while Yemen has selected director Amr Gamal’s “The Burdened” and Tunisia is competing with Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters.”
Morocco has selected Asmae El Moudir’s documentary “The Mother of All Lies.”
This means that all four films are considered for the shortlist. If the Arab movies get shortlisted, they could then get nominated for an Academy Award.
“Voy Voy Voy!,” the dramedy, tells the story of Hassan, an impoverished but ambitious young man living in Egypt, whose dream of moving to Europe begins to happen when he stumbles upon the obscure sport of blind football.
Speaking to Arab News, “Voy Voy Voy!” director Omar Hilal said, “It turned out that all of them pretended to be blind when they're not blind. So, it's a funny story of illegal immigration or an ironic one. It's a great way to discuss illegal immigration without it being a heavy topic. So you are able to tell a drama, but in a funny way.”
With 9 weeks in the number one spot at the Arab box office, “Voy! Voy! Voy!” is Hilal’s first foray into film after a career in television. Despite the film’s moderate budget and twice delayed release, the filmmaker claims the biggest challenge was juggling his multiple responsibilities on set.
“It was a positive thing because I could solve everything. I'm the one who can rewrite something in case there's a problem. But being the producer, the director at the same time, the director wants to shoot more, one more time to do a scene. But the producer says, ‘No, you've got to move on.’ So it was a fight. That was the hardest thing of the film,” he said.
“The Burdened” is Gamal’s second film to be submitted to the Oscars. His romantic comedy “10 Days Before the Wedding” was Yemen’s candidate in 2018.
Gamal’s 2023 movie had its world premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival where it won several awards including the Amnesty International Award and Panorama Audience Award.
Gamal’s film is based on a true story that took place in Aden in 2019. It revolves around a couple, Isra’a and Ahmed, who struggle to live a normal life and educate their three young children. When Isra’a becomes pregnant, they have to make difficult decisions about the family’s future.
Tunisian director Ben Hania’s semi-documentary “Four Daughters” captures the story of Olfa Hamrouni, whose two daughters left to fight for Daesh.
The film was Ben Hania’s first entry — and the only Arab one — for the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize this year.
The movie follows Hamrouni, who drew international attention in 2016 after accusing Tunisian authorities of failing to stop one of her daughters from traveling to Libya to fight for the militant group. Hamrouni’s other daughter had already joined the group.
The film was supported by Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Film Foundation.
“The Mother of All Lies” is a documentary that explores the events surrounding the deadly bread riots that shook El-Moudir’s impoverished Casablanca neighborhood in 1981.
El-Moudir won the Directing Prize for the film at the Cannes Film Festival.