In the world of Arab cinema, some impressive talents are finally getting their well-deserved time in the spotlight. Case in point: Oualid Mouaness and Feras Fayyad — both film directors from the region just showcased their latest works at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and scooped up some awards.
The 10-day event has officially come to an end earlier this week and it was Mouaness’s film 1982, which won the Netpac Award. The film only made its world premiere at TIFF however, it was selected for “its adventurous, imaginative style and subtle, confident filmmaking, bravely juxtaposing and framing the universal innocence and charm of youth within harrowing historical context,” according to a statement by the jury.
The film tells the story of an anxious schoolboy who is set to win over his school crush. Set in a private school outside Beirut, Lebanon, the film is based on Mouaness’s childhood when the invasion of Lebanon began in the summer of 1982. Marking his first ever feature film, 1982 also stars Oscar-nominated director Nadine Labaki (known famously for her film, Capernaum).
Next up, Fayyad’s The Cave took home the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award. The Oscar-nominated director (he’s also the brains behind Last Men in Aleppo), returned to his hometown in Syria to follow a team of female doctors who treat casualties in an underground hospital while fighting systematic sexism. Making its world premiere during the film festival, the eye-opening documentary is already being buzzed for an Oscar nod.
This marks another milestone in Arab cinema. *Inserts clapping emoji*.
Now, take a look at which regional films have entered the Oscars race.