Three Arab films receive Oscar Nominations: The Square, Karama Has No Walls and Omar

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Three Arab films receive Oscar Nominations: The Square, Karama Has No Walls and Omar

Tahrir Square during 8 February 2011

Tahrir Square during 8 February 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No sooner did Netflix announce that it would be offering The Square among its popular movie selections but the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the film was a nominee for one of this year’s coveted Oscars.

The Square is among several films addressing Arab World issues that received nominations for this year’s Oscars.

The Square documents the Egyptian Revolution, has been making waves around the country with showings planned this week in major cities around the country as well. Credited are producers Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, named in the award nomination.

Through the news, we only get a glimpse of the bloodiest battle, an election, or a million man march. At the beginning of July 2013, we witnessed the second president deposed within the space of three years. The Square is an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights, struggling through multiple forces, in the fight to create a society of conscience. Get more information on the film The Square online at

“This film and this nomination is in honor of the Egyptians who are still struggling as I write this–for their hopes and dreams and for the blood of the thousands that have been sacrificed for the struggle for human rights and social justice.   We made this film to tell the stories of people who are risking all that they have to fight for change–and to share their hopes and dreams with the world. Making this film took us into Tahrir Square and revealed the beauty, power and courage of the Egyptian people– a courage that has taught us and inspired us, and has personally changed our lives forever.  This film was a collaboration of talented filmmakers and was born from Tahrir Square– it is a witness that the struggle for human rights and freedoms is a universal struggle and this nomination is an international recognition of that struggle.   As Ahmed, one of the revolutionaries in the film said when he was told of the nomination– now that the world has witnessed, and our story has touched their hearts and minds,  it will never be able to be obliterated.  So thank you for this recognition, and for the power you have now given this film for spreading stories of truth and the fight for justice– You are now part of the Egyptian Revolution!  We are humbled to be sharing this honor with so many other critical films and very talented storytellers who have worked so hard to bring light to untold stories of the world,” said Jehane Noujaim, director The Square.

From the producers, about the film:

Hailed as one of the finest documentaries of the year, The Square takes you directly to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, as the revolution unfolds. From the 2011 overthrow of a 30-year dictatorship to the military’s removal of the Muslim brotherhood president in the summer of 2013, we follow a group of Egyptian activists as they battle leaders and regimes and risk their lives to build a new society of conscience.

The Square transports the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights.

The Oscar nominees were announced this week and The Square will be competing with many other prominent films. They are:

  • “The Act of Killing”Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
  • “Cutie and the Boxer” Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
  • “Dirty Wars” Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
  • “The Square” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
  • “20 Feet from Stardom” Nominees to be determined

More films made it to Hollywood’s biggest night.

In the Documentary Short category, Karama Has No Walls by Sara Ishaq was also nominated and will compete with the following nominated films:

  • “CaveDigger” Jeffrey Karoff
  • “Facing Fear” Jason Cohen
  • “Karama Has No Walls” Sara Ishaq
  • “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
  • “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” Edgar Barens

Karama Has No Walls details the Arab Spring protests that began in Sana’a in Yemen in February 2011 when pro-government snipers opened fire on protestors and killed 63 Yemeni civilians.

In the Foreign Language Film category Omar, which is submitted representing the State of Palestine, was also nominated for an Academy Award.

Cover of "Paradise Now"

Cover of Paradise Now

Omar, the second film in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated from Palestine, is produced by veteran award nominee Hany Abu-Asad. Abu-Asad produced Paradise Now which in the 78th Academy Award Nominations in 2005 became the first film from Palestine to be nominated for an Oscar.

The nomination of Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now in the Foreign Language Film category caused protests from pro-Israeli activists because the Academy Awards initially referred to it as a film from the “Palestinian Authority.” It was subsequently identified as a film from the “Palestinian Territories”.

Omar will be in competition with the following film nominees:

  • “The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium
  • “The Great Beauty” Italy
  • “The Hunt” Denmark
  • “The Missing Picture” Cambodia
  • “Omar” Palestine

Another film, American Hustle, made in the United States and about the 1982 FBI sting operation called “Abscam,” which featured an undercover “Arab Sheikh” who bribed elected officials, is among the contenders for the top film prize of Best Film. American Hustle received nominations in 10 categories.

The category nominations are:

  • “American Hustle” Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • “Captain Phillips” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
  • “Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
  • “Her” Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
  • “Nebraska” Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
  • “Philomena” Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
  • “12 Years a Slave” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” Nominees to be determined

For a complete list of the nominated films click here.


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Managing Writer

Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News online
The Arab Daily News is the newspaper of record for the Arab American Community, and publishes and writes original articles on news, features, commentary, business, politics, sports, entertainment and more. Managing Writer of the Arab Daily News, reviews and posts articles for the journalists and bloggers who submit their writings for this popular online newspaper newspaper.
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