Africa’s Entries to the US Academy Awards 2020

Oscar Awards 2020

These are the entries for the Academy Awards in 2020 made by different African countries.

The list of Best International Film submitted for the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been compiled by country by Ben Dalton over at Here we share the list of films in the running from the African country currently.

Algeria: Papicha (Mounia Meddour)

Nedjma, a young woman in Algeria in 1997, organises a fashion show against the backdrop of great oppression against her sex. Lyna Khoudri, Shirine Boutella, and Amira Hilda Douaouda star. It launched in Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2019. Algeria has been nominated four times for this award, with the 1969 film Z, a co-production with France, winning. This is Meddour’s fiction feature debut following the documentaries Cinéma Algérien, Un Nouveau Souffle (2011) and La Cuisine En Heritage (2010). Jour2Fête is selling the film internationally.

Egypt: Poisonous Roses (Fawzi Saleh)

Saleh’s film premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018; it chronicles the destructive effects of Cairo tanneries on the lives of an impoverished brother and sister. It subsequently won three awards at the director’s native Cairo Film Festival. Egypt submits to the international feature award for the 34th time, with its first in 1959 for Youssef Chahine’s Cairo Station; the country is still waiting for its first nomination or win.

Ethiopia: Running Against The Wind (Jan Philipp Weyl)

German director Weyl’s debut film marks Ethiopia’s fourth entry in the international film category, and is the country’s first-ever Oscar submission backed by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Previous Ethiopian films have received criticism for failing to employ talent from the country; Running Against The Wind was made using local actors and crews. It stars Mikias Wolde and Ashenafi Nigusu as two brothers seeking different careers in running and photography.

Ghana: Azali (Kwanbena Gyansah)

Ghana is one of the few debutants entering the international feature category, with Kwabena Gyansah’s drama about a girl from a small village who flees an arranged marriage to a 70-year-old man for the bustling capital Accra. The film is led by a primarily Ghanian cast, including Akofa Edjeani, Adjetey Anang, Mohammed Halfiz, and Ama K. Abebrese.

Kenya: Subira (Ravneet Chadha)

Aiming for Kenya’s first Oscar nomination with the country’s fourth entry, Chadha’s film is based on the 2007 award-winning short of the same name, which tells the story of a young girl who is determined to swim in the ocean despite her strict social environment. The film debuted in Kenya in November 2018, before playing at events including Göteborg Film Festival the following year.

Morocco: Adam (Maryam Touzani)

Lubna Azabal, Nissrine Erradi and Douae Belkhaouda star in the story of an unmarried pregnant woman taken in by a widowed baker. This Cannes 2019 Un Certain Regard title marks Morocco’s 15th submission with no previous nominations, although 2012 entry Omar Killed Me made the January Shortlist. Adam is Touzani’s feature film debut. Films Boutique has international rights.

Senegal: Atlantics (Mati Diop)

Submitted at the last minute, does Mati Diop’s romantic drama stand a chance of securing Africa’s first nomination in this category since Mauritania’s Timbuktu in 2015? That remains to be seen, but it has decent credentials, launching in Competition at Cannes 2019, making Diop the first black woman to gain that achievement. Even better, it picked up the Grand Prix, with Diop becoming only the fourth woman ever to direct a Grand Prix-winning film. The film is a portrait of forbidden love in a Senegalese seaside town. Senegal’s only previous entry to the award came for the 2018 ceremony, with Alain Gomis’ Berlin Grand Prix winner Félicité making the December shortlist the previous winter.

South Africa: Knuckle City (Jahmil XT Qubeka)

Boxing drama Knuckle City premiered at the Durban International Film Festival before making its international debut in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema strand. Qhubeka’s previous film includes controversial 2013 child abuse drama Of Good Report, which was initially banned by South African censors.

Tunisia: Dear Son (Mohamed Ben Attia)

Attia’s 2018 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight title follows a Tunisian couple as they discover that their son has left to join ISIS in Syria. The film stars Mohamed Dhrif, Mouna Mejri, and Imen Cherif. This is Tunisia’s sixth submission with no previous nominations. Attia’s Hedi won the best first feature award at the 2016 Berlinale and was selected to compete for the Golden Bear. Luxbox has worldwide sales.

Uganda: Kony, Order From Above (Steve T. Ayeny)

Uganda becomes one of the few remaining countries to make its first Oscar entry, following the establishment of the seven-person Uganda Academy Selection Committee in July 2019. Ayeny’s drama centres Otti and Aguti, two children who form a strong bond during the infamous insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, which has been happening since 1987 and is led by Joseph Kony. Ugandan actor Joel Okuyo Atiku takes on the role of the notorious warlord.

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