Oscars: Afghanistan Selects 'Hava, Maryam, Ayesha' for International Feature Film Category

Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival
'Hava, Maryam, Ayesha'

Angelina Jolie has championed this Afghan fiction debut from documentary filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, which tells the story of three women from different social backgrounds all facing big challenges in their lives.

Afghanistan has picked its contender for the 2020 Oscars in the international feature category, selecting the drama Hava, Maryam, Ayesha from director Sahraa Karimi to enter the awards race.

The feature debut from Karimi, who directed the documentary Afghan Women Behind the Wheel in 2009, Hava, Maryam, Ayesha premiered at the Horizons section at this year's Venice International Film Festival.

The movie follows the lives of three Afghan women from three very different social backgrounds all facing major challenges. Hava is a traditional, and heavily pregnant, housewife who only finds joy in the thought of the baby in her belly. A world away, Maryam, a university-educated TV news reporter, is trying to get a divorce from her unfaithful husband. Finally there is Ayesha, a pregnant teenager whose boyfriend split when he heard the news and who is now ready to accept marriage to her cousin to avoid the social shame of being an unwed mother.

Angelina Jolie has championed the drama, saying the movie “shows the grace, beauty and spirit of Afghan women as they navigate marriage, love, friendship, family and motherhood.” Shortly before the film's Venice premiere, Jolie sent words of support, saying “every film made in Afghanistan is a triumph against the odds. At a time when the future of Afghanistan is hanging in the balance, it reminds us of all that is at stake for millions of Afghan women, who deserve the freedom, independence and safety to make their own choices — in their own homes, and throughout society as a whole.”

Katayoon Shahabi's Noori Pictures produced Hava, Maryam, Ayesha and is handling worldwide sales on the film. The movie currently has no U.S. distribution deal in place.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominations for the international feature film Oscar on Jan. 13. The winner will be announced on Oscar night in Los Angeles on Feb. 9.