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Palestine has picked Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib as its official contender for the 2018 Oscars in the foreign-language category.
The film, which premiered in Locarno’s official competition, where it won three independent prizes, pairs father and son Mohammad Bakri and Saleh Bakri for the first time, teaming the celebrated Palestinian actors in a wry road movie comedy set amid wedding preparations in the run-up to Christmas in Nazareth.
The Hollywood Reporter described Wajib as a “nicely low-key comedy-drama of fangled and community ties,” adding that it was “built foursquare around the charm and skill” of its co-leads and offered a “genial glimpse into a complex and sometimes fraught area of the Middle East, as provided by one of the region’s leading female filmmakers.”
The film — the third collaboration between Jacir and Saleh Bakri — is also the director’s third time representing Palestine at the Academy Awards following 2008’s Salt of the Sea and 2012’s When I Saw You.
Given its small stature and the pressures faced by its filmmaking community, Palestine has fared well at the Oscars, earning two nominations in the foreign-language category with Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now in 2006 and Omar in 2014, and in the documentary category with 5 Broken Cameras in 2013.
Wajib, which is heading to Toronto, was produced by Ossama Bawardi of Philistine Films, in co-production with Metafora Productions, JBA Production, Cuidad Lunar, Klinker Film, Cactus World Films, Ape&Bjorn, SchortCut Films and Snowglobe Film. Countries of production are Palestine, France, Colombia, Germany, Norway, Qatar and the U.A.E.
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