Move over Theeb-- these 9 Arab films got Oscar nominations already!

Published February 25th, 2016 - 12:48 GMT

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It isn’t just Lebanese fashion designers whose stunning creations have made it all the way to Hollywood. Arab filmmakers have been making us proud for decades with intriguing productions worthy of international recognition.

Luckily for us, the Oscars aren’t exclusive to Western talent; they recognize cinematic achievements by both established and budding international filmmakers.

While Jordanian award-winning film Theeb has made more headlines in international media than many of its Arab counterparts since its release in 2014, it isn’t the first regional film to be nominated for a golden statue in the prestigious Oscars. Continue reading below »

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Battle of Algiers - This Italian-Algerian production is the only film in Oscar history to be ever nominated in two separate non-consecutive years. In 1966 it was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and in 1968 for Screenplay and Direction. The historical war drama claims the 120th spot in Empire magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Battle of Algiers - This Italian-Algerian production is the only film in Oscar history to be ever nominated in two separate non-consecutive years. In 1966 it was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and in 1968 for Screenplay and Direction. The historical war drama claims the 120th spot in Empire magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

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Beyond the Walls - Released in 1984, this Israeli pro-Palestinian film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. The beautiful plot revolves around a Jewish prisoner who refuses to frame a fellow Palestinian inmate for a fellow Jewish prisoner’s death, deciding to commit suicide rather than tell a lie.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11Beyond the Walls - Released in 1984, this Israeli pro-Palestinian film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. The beautiful plot revolves around a Jewish prisoner who refuses to frame a fellow Palestinian inmate for a fellow Jewish prisoner’s death, deciding to commit suicide rather than tell a lie.

Enlarge
Paradise Now - This emotional 2005 drama was Palestine's first Oscar nominee. After much controversy it was announced as a submission by the Palestinian territories as opposed to the “Palestinian Authority.” The film revolves around two Palestinian childhood friends on a mission to carry out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv.
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Paradise Now - This emotional 2005 drama was Palestine's first Oscar nominee. After much controversy it was announced as a submission by the Palestinian territories as opposed to the “Palestinian Authority.” The film revolves around two Palestinian childhood friends on a mission to carry out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv.

Enlarge
Days of Glory / Indigenes - The all-Algerian cast of this war drama weren’t aware of France's discrimination towards foreign soldiers serving in the French army during World War 2 until filming began. Perhaps that’s why the film’s great plot and the cast’s genuine acting helped them earn an Academy award nomination in 2006.
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Days of Glory / Indigenes - The all-Algerian cast of this war drama weren’t aware of France's discrimination towards foreign soldiers serving in the French army during World War 2 until filming began. Perhaps that’s why the film’s great plot and the cast’s genuine acting helped them earn an Academy award nomination in 2006.

Enlarge
Ajami - It took 7 years to make this 2009 Israeli film. While none of the actors had prior acting experience and improvised the majority of their scenes, it’s impressive that it has earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010.
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Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Ajami - It took 7 years to make this 2009 Israeli film. While none of the actors had prior acting experience and improvised the majority of their scenes, it’s impressive that it has earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010.

Enlarge
Incendies - A 2010 Canadian mystery drama adapted from Lebanese writer Wajdi Mouawad's play of the same name. The Oscar-nominated film follows the journey of twins attempting to unravel the mysterious life of their late mother. Despite being shot in Jordan, the name of the ME country in which it takes place was deliberately left unnamed.
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11Incendies - A 2010 Canadian mystery drama adapted from Lebanese writer Wajdi Mouawad's play of the same name. The Oscar-nominated film follows the journey of twins attempting to unravel the mysterious life of their late mother. Despite being shot in Jordan, the name of the ME country in which it takes place was deliberately left unnamed.

Enlarge
Outside the Law - Set between 1945 and 1962, this 2010 Algerian historical war drama is a follow-up to Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of Glory. It follows the lives of three Algerian brothers in France, set against the backdrop of the Algerian independence movement and the Algerian War. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2011.
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Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Outside the Law - Set between 1945 and 1962, this 2010 Algerian historical war drama is a follow-up to Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of Glory. It follows the lives of three Algerian brothers in France, set against the backdrop of the Algerian independence movement and the Algerian War. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2011.

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Omar - This 2013 romantic thriller is the second Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Paradise Now (2005). Both movies were directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who wrote this screenplay in just four days.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Omar - This 2013 romantic thriller is the second Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Paradise Now (2005). Both movies were directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who wrote this screenplay in just four days.

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Timbuktu - 2014 - This was the first film to be shot in Mauritania by a Mauritanian director to win at the Cesar film awards in 2015. It was nominated for an Oscar in the same year. The plot revolves around a family whose quiet life turns upside down by Jihadists taking over the city of Timbuktu.
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Timbuktu - 2014 - This was the first film to be shot in Mauritania by a Mauritanian director to win at the Cesar film awards in 2015. It was nominated for an Oscar in the same year. The plot revolves around a family whose quiet life turns upside down by Jihadists taking over the city of Timbuktu.

Enlarge
Theeb - This 2014 Jordanian film made international headlines and won multiple awards with its plot about a young Bedouin boy’s journey through the Jordanian desert in WWI. The actor playing Theeb is a real-life Bedouin with no acting experience. This is Jordan’s first Oscar nomination. Find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11Theeb - This 2014 Jordanian film made international headlines and won multiple awards with its plot about a young Bedouin boy’s journey through the Jordanian desert in WWI. The actor playing Theeb is a real-life Bedouin with no acting experience. This is Jordan’s first Oscar nomination. Find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

Enlarge
Ave Maria - This 2015 short Palestinian film takes a comedic look at an encounter between a Jewish settler family and Palestinian nuns in the West Bank. This is the first Arab film to run for an Oscar in the Live-Action Short Films section category. Its writer and director Basil Khalil will find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.
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Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11Ave Maria - This 2015 short Palestinian film takes a comedic look at an encounter between a Jewish settler family and Palestinian nuns in the West Bank. This is the first Arab film to run for an Oscar in the Live-Action Short Films section category. Its writer and director Basil Khalil will find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

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1

Battle of Algiers - This Italian-Algerian production is the only film in Oscar history to be ever nominated in two separate non-consecutive years. In 1966 it was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and in 1968 for Screenplay and Direction. The historical war drama claims the 120th spot in Empire magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

Image 1 of 11Battle of Algiers - This Italian-Algerian production is the only film in Oscar history to be ever nominated in two separate non-consecutive years. In 1966 it was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and in 1968 for Screenplay and Direction. The historical war drama claims the 120th spot in Empire magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

2

Beyond the Walls - Released in 1984, this Israeli pro-Palestinian film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. The beautiful plot revolves around a Jewish prisoner who refuses to frame a fellow Palestinian inmate for a fellow Jewish prisoner’s death, deciding to commit suicide rather than tell a lie.

Image 2 of 11Beyond the Walls - Released in 1984, this Israeli pro-Palestinian film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. The beautiful plot revolves around a Jewish prisoner who refuses to frame a fellow Palestinian inmate for a fellow Jewish prisoner’s death, deciding to commit suicide rather than tell a lie.

3

Paradise Now - This emotional 2005 drama was Palestine's first Oscar nominee. After much controversy it was announced as a submission by the Palestinian territories as opposed to the “Palestinian Authority.” The film revolves around two Palestinian childhood friends on a mission to carry out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv.

Image 3 of 11Paradise Now - This emotional 2005 drama was Palestine's first Oscar nominee. After much controversy it was announced as a submission by the Palestinian territories as opposed to the “Palestinian Authority.” The film revolves around two Palestinian childhood friends on a mission to carry out suicide attacks in Tel Aviv.

4

Days of Glory / Indigenes - The all-Algerian cast of this war drama weren’t aware of France's discrimination towards foreign soldiers serving in the French army during World War 2 until filming began. Perhaps that’s why the film’s great plot and the cast’s genuine acting helped them earn an Academy award nomination in 2006.

Image 4 of 11Days of Glory / Indigenes - The all-Algerian cast of this war drama weren’t aware of France's discrimination towards foreign soldiers serving in the French army during World War 2 until filming began. Perhaps that’s why the film’s great plot and the cast’s genuine acting helped them earn an Academy award nomination in 2006.

5

Ajami - It took 7 years to make this 2009 Israeli film. While none of the actors had prior acting experience and improvised the majority of their scenes, it’s impressive that it has earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010.

Image 5 of 11Ajami - It took 7 years to make this 2009 Israeli film. While none of the actors had prior acting experience and improvised the majority of their scenes, it’s impressive that it has earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010.

6

Incendies - A 2010 Canadian mystery drama adapted from Lebanese writer Wajdi Mouawad's play of the same name. The Oscar-nominated film follows the journey of twins attempting to unravel the mysterious life of their late mother. Despite being shot in Jordan, the name of the ME country in which it takes place was deliberately left unnamed.

Image 6 of 11Incendies - A 2010 Canadian mystery drama adapted from Lebanese writer Wajdi Mouawad's play of the same name. The Oscar-nominated film follows the journey of twins attempting to unravel the mysterious life of their late mother. Despite being shot in Jordan, the name of the ME country in which it takes place was deliberately left unnamed.

7

Outside the Law - Set between 1945 and 1962, this 2010 Algerian historical war drama is a follow-up to Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of Glory. It follows the lives of three Algerian brothers in France, set against the backdrop of the Algerian independence movement and the Algerian War. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2011.

Image 7 of 11Outside the Law - Set between 1945 and 1962, this 2010 Algerian historical war drama is a follow-up to Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of Glory. It follows the lives of three Algerian brothers in France, set against the backdrop of the Algerian independence movement and the Algerian War. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2011.

8

Omar - This 2013 romantic thriller is the second Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Paradise Now (2005). Both movies were directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who wrote this screenplay in just four days.

Image 8 of 11Omar - This 2013 romantic thriller is the second Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Paradise Now (2005). Both movies were directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who wrote this screenplay in just four days.

9

Timbuktu - 2014 - This was the first film to be shot in Mauritania by a Mauritanian director to win at the Cesar film awards in 2015. It was nominated for an Oscar in the same year. The plot revolves around a family whose quiet life turns upside down by Jihadists taking over the city of Timbuktu.

Image 9 of 11Timbuktu - 2014 - This was the first film to be shot in Mauritania by a Mauritanian director to win at the Cesar film awards in 2015. It was nominated for an Oscar in the same year. The plot revolves around a family whose quiet life turns upside down by Jihadists taking over the city of Timbuktu.

10

Theeb - This 2014 Jordanian film made international headlines and won multiple awards with its plot about a young Bedouin boy’s journey through the Jordanian desert in WWI. The actor playing Theeb is a real-life Bedouin with no acting experience. This is Jordan’s first Oscar nomination. Find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

Image 10 of 11Theeb - This 2014 Jordanian film made international headlines and won multiple awards with its plot about a young Bedouin boy’s journey through the Jordanian desert in WWI. The actor playing Theeb is a real-life Bedouin with no acting experience. This is Jordan’s first Oscar nomination. Find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

11

Ave Maria - This 2015 short Palestinian film takes a comedic look at an encounter between a Jewish settler family and Palestinian nuns in the West Bank. This is the first Arab film to run for an Oscar in the Live-Action Short Films section category. Its writer and director Basil Khalil will find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

Image 11 of 11Ave Maria - This 2015 short Palestinian film takes a comedic look at an encounter between a Jewish settler family and Palestinian nuns in the West Bank. This is the first Arab film to run for an Oscar in the Live-Action Short Films section category. Its writer and director Basil Khalil will find out if it’s a winner on Sunday, February 28, 2016.

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Cheer on our homebred talent and find out if they’ve scooped an award (fingers crossed) at this year’s 88th Academy Awards ceremony, set to take place on Sunday, February 28.

Until then, here’s a look at the Arab films that got nominated for an Oscars over the years.

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