Oscars: Tunisia Selects 'Flower of Aleppo' for Foreign-Language Category

The Flower of Aleppo - H 2016
Credit: HM Films

The drama, which tells the story of a mother who enters ISIS' stronghold to save her son, is only the third film from the country to be put forward in the category.

Tunisia has selected only its third-ever submission for the Academy's best foreign-language film category.

Directed by veteran filmmaker Ridha Behi, The Flower of Aleppo tells the story of a mother whose son is lured by ISIS after becoming emotionally disturbed by his parents' divorce. Desperate to save him from the clutches of the terrorist group, she disguises herself as a Jihadi woman and enters its stronghold of Aleppo in Syria.

"Let's keep our heads cool," Behi said Monday of the selection, the first to be submitted by the north African country since 2002's The Magic Box. "It is true that our film will represent Tunisia in the race to the Oscars. But it is also true that our film is among a very long list of foreign films [that] claim and aspire to be in the final round among the nominees. The road is still long ... a few months ... the competition is rough but we stand ready on the line of departure ... I believe it."

Added producer Ziad Hamzeh: "We are honored and touched by the selection. Mr. Behi deserves such recognition as the film is truly a gem."

The Flower of Aleppo stars acclaimed Tunisian film and TV actress Hend Sabry.