Palestinians sending 'Wajib' to Oscars

The film is set in Nazareth’s Christian-Arab community.

September 2, 2017 21:26
1 minute read.
Scene from 'Wajib'

Scene from 'Wajib' . (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A comedy about an upcoming wedding in Nazareth will represent Palestine at the 2018 Oscars in the foreign-language film category.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the official Palestinian submission to the Academy Awards is Wajib, a film written and directed by Annemarie Jacir.

The film follows a father and son in the Christian Arab community in Nazareth – played by real life father and son Muhammad and Saleh Bakri.

Abu Shadi lives in Nazareth, while Shadi has flown in from Rome to help the family prepare for the wedding of his sister. The pair drive around delivering invitations to the community, and clash over many things, including the different viewpoints of those living in Israel versus those in the Palestinian diaspora.

Wajib, which means duty in Arabic, premiered at the Locarno Festival in early August.

It will play at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, as will Foxtrot, a contender for Israel’s submission to the Oscars.

Variety called Wajib a “well-played disquisition on what it means to be a Palestinian abroad versus a Palestinian at home... the older gentleman representing the realist negotiating the compromises necessary when you’re an Arab in Nazareth, the younger actor embodying the diasporic community who remain politically engaged yet naïve in their blinkered view of life back home.”

The Hollywood Reporter called the film a “nicely low-key comedy-drama of fangled family and community ties.”

Israel has yet to decide its entry for the Oscars; it almost always selects the Best Picture winner from the Ophir Awards, which will be held on September 19. The films nominated for the Best Picture are In Between, Foxtrot, Longing, Scaffolding and Doubtful.

The Academy Awards nominations will be announced in January, and the awards ceremony is scheduled for March 4.

Neither Israel nor Palestine have ever won the foreign-language Oscar, though Israel has been nominated 10 times and Palestine twice.

Israel has the most nominations of all the countries which have never won the award.

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