Oscars: Luxembourg Selects 'Tel Aviv on Fire' for International Feature Film Category

Tel Aviv on Fire Still 1 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Sameh Zoabi's comic sendup of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was shot mainly in Luxembourg, with a local crew.

Luxembourg has selected Tel Aviv on Fire, a drama from writer-director Sameh Zoabi (Family Albums) as its contender for the 2020 Oscars in the international feature film category.

The comedic drama, which premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival, is set in the Middle East but was largely shot in Luxembourg, using a local crew.

The plot follows a 30-something Palestinian slacker (Kais Nashif) who lucks into a writing gig on a propagandistic Palestinian soap called Tel Aviv on Fire. A chance meeting with the Israeli commander Assi (Yaniv Biton) during a checkpoint stop leads to an unlikely partnership, with the two teaming up to create plotlines only slightly less absurd than their daily reality.

Tel Aviv on Fire was well received on the festival circuit, winning best actor in Venice's Horizons section for Nashif and picking up prizes at fests from Seattle to Haifa. It is currently in U.S. theaters via Cohen Media.

Luxembourg, which has a population of less than half a million, has yet to be nominated for an Oscar in what used to be called the best foreign-language film category.

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.