Oscars: Egypt Will Not Participate in Best International Film Category

Egypt, which is home to the Middle East and North Africa’s biggest film industry, will not participate in the Best International Film Oscar race this year.

According to Egyptian media reports, confirmed by Deadline, the committee of critics and cinema professionals responsible for selecting the country’s submission decided not to send a film for the lack of a credible candidate. 

The five films on the shortlist comprised Marwan Hamed’s Kira & El Gin, Hadi El-Baghoury’s Full Moon, Sherif Arafa’s The Crime, Magdy Ahmed Ali’s 2 Talaat Harb and Ahmed Abdalla’s B-19.

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Two films generating potential submission buzz – Nadine Khan’s Abu Saddam and Omar El Zohairy’s Cannes 2021 Critics’ Week Winner Feathers – could not be taken into consideration because they did not meet the 2022 theatrical release requirements.

The decision for Egypt to opt out of the race was made at the end of September but the news has only now come to light as the October 3 deadline for submission hits.

Critic Ahmed Shawky, who participated in the first part of the process selection process but was absent for the physical final vote, says the debate on whether to submit a film or not is a perennial one in Egypt.

“Some members wanted to take such a decision in previous years. Their argument is always that the production level is low, and nothing will have any opportunity to be shortlisted,” he explained.

“Me and another group always defended the other side, saying we should select the best of the local industry even if it has no chance, as even the buzz around Egypt selecting a certain film is a tribute to the best available.”

Egypt has been submitting films to the Best International Film Category and its Foreign Language predecessor since 1958 but has never clinched its coveted statuette or a nomination.

Despite its lack of success, the country has submitted a number of high-profile, buzzy features over the years, kicking off with Youssef Chahine’s Cairo Station (1958) and also including Marwan Hamed’s The Yacoubian Building (2006) as well as more recently Mohamed Diab’s Clash (2016), Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine (2018) and Ayten Amin’s Souad (2021)

One major obstacle holding back the more recent entries has been a lack of local financial support or a U.S. distributor to help with the promotional campaign costs such as travel and screenings.

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