Oscars: Palestine Selects ‘It Must Be Heaven’ for International Feature Film Category

It Must Be Heaven - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

Elia Suleiman's deadpan comedy sees the noted director take his satirical eye from Palestine to Paris and New York.

Palestine has picked It Must Be Heaven, a typically acerbic satire from veteran director Elia Suleiman, as its entry for the best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars. 

The film bowed in competition at this year's Cannes, where it won the jury special mention and the Fipresci Critics’ Award, and sees Suleiman take his trademark deadpan comedy outside of his native Palestine for the first time in four features. The filmmaker plays himself in a semi-autobiographical role as a director who travels from Nazareth to Paris, New York and Montreal, observing not only what it means to be Palestinian but now live in a world of surveillance and police control that has become a "microcosm of Palestine." Frequent Suleiman collaborator Ali Suliman (Homeland, Lone Survivor) also stars.

The Hollywood Reporter described It Must Be Heaven as "another love letter to Palestine from a modern-day Chaplin."

It Must Be Heaven marks Suleiman's first film in a decade following his acclaimed dark satires The Time That Remains (2009), Divine Intervention (2002) and Chronicles of a Disappearance (1996).

Divine Intervention — which won the Cannes jury prize — was submitted as Palestine's entry to the foreign-language category in 2003. 

Despite a relatively small film industry, Palestine has fared well at the Oscars, with two nominations from 12 submissions. Hany Abu-Assad's features Omar (2013) and Paradise Now (2005) both made it to the final shortlist. 

The 92nd Academy Awards are due to take place Feb. 9, 2020.