The 2016 Oscars shortlist is having an innovative impact on film distribution in the Arab world, prompting the theatrical re-release in the region of Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar’s desert adventure pic “Theeb,” and also of pluriprized short “Ave Maria,” by Palestinian director Basil Khalil.
Desert-set “Theeb,” which is Jordan’s Foreign Language Oscar candidate, is about a Bedouin boy who outwits potential enemies during a danger-fraught mission at the height of World War I. Following its Jordanian premiere in March pic went on to an outstanding box office run in eleven Arab countries. After being shortlisted in the Foreign Language Oscar category last week, it will now be getting a subsequent limited pan-Arab second outing early next year via Cairo-based distribbery Mad Solutions, which claims this re-release of an Arab arthouse movie is a first.
“Theeb” in November went out on limited release via Film Movement in the U.S., one of twelve territories where this Arab cinema standout title has had theatrical play. Nominations for the best foreign language Oscar will be announced January 14.
“Ave Maria,” a 14-minute comic short about Palestinian Catholic nuns in a West Bank monastery contending with Israeli settlers world premiered at Cannes and went on to screen at more than fifty festivals. It made the Oscar shortlist in the live action shorts category. Nominations in this category will also be announced January 14.
“Short films have rarely found a screening window in the Arab world,” noted MAD Solutions CEO Alaa Karkouti in a statement. The theatrical release of “Ave Maria” is in line with his company’s mission to “explore every opportunity for Arab films.”