Oscars: Palestine Selects 'Ghost Hunting' for Foreign-Language Category

Istiyad Ashbah_Ghost Hunting_Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Berlinale

In the documentary, Palestinian ex-prisoners re-enact their nightmarish interrogation memories.

Palestine has selected Istiyad ashbah (Ghost Hunting), directed by Raed Andoni, as its official contender for the Oscars in the foreign-language category.

The documentary brought together former inmates of the Moskobiya interrogation center in Jerusalem in a replica of the center's interrogation rooms and cells built to scale inside a hall. In that realistic setting, the ex-inmates re-enacted their interrogations and discussed the humiliation they experienced during their detention.

"Part improvised docudrama and part group therapy session, Palestinian director Raed Andoni's unconventional movie project brings together a disparate cast of ex-prisoners to first rebuild their own former jail as a film set, then to re-enact their painful memories on camera," THR wrote in its review.

Co-produced by Palestine, France, Switzerland and Qatar, Ghost Hunting had its world premiere in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2017 where it won the main documentary prize, the Glasshütte Original Documentary Award, and one of three audience awards.

The film went on to take part in a number of international film festivals, including Philadelphia Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

Ghost Hunting is Palestine's 11th foreign-language Oscar submission. Two Palestinian films, Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now and Hany Abu-Assad's Omar, have won Oscar nominations.