Documentary on Syrian artist Mohamad Hafez makes Oscars shortlist

Directed by Jimmy Goldblum, 'A Broken House' follows the personal story of the artist, known for recreating Damascene architecture through models pieced together by scrap materials

August 30, 2017 - New Haven, CT: Syrian-born Artist Mohamad Hafez in his studio. CREDIT: Cole Wilson for The New York Times.
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A deeply moving film about Syrian artist Mohamad Hafez is among 15 titles shortlisted for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 94th Academy Awards.

Presented by The New Yorker and directed by Jimmy Goldblum, A Broken House takes viewers into the life of Hafez, who after moving to the US on a single-entry visa to pursue his education and a career in architecture, starts recreating scenes of his home city of Damascus as a way to deal with his homesickness.

"If you can't get home, why don't you make home?" Hafez says in the 20-minute film.

Hafez then begins creating miniature models using scrap materials that he comes across. The models, which feature scenes of Syrian homes, were kept private until he started exhibiting his work in 2015.

In 2019, the Sharjah Art Museum presented a solo exhibition of the artist's work titled Journeys from an Absent Present to a Lost Past. The show included works from his Baggage series as well as Hung Memories.

"There was this fire inside to start humanising refugees and to tell their stories," Hafez says in the film.

He is also later shown interviewing a displaced Syrian man whose life has been affected by the war in Syria.

Intimate and personal, A Broken House also features Hafez's parents, showing the toll war has on families and relationships. In one scene, Hafez, while visiting his mother, asks her to move to America, but she insists on returning to her home country. “What do you have in Syria?” he tearfully asks her several times.

Nominated films for the 94th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

You can watch 'A Broken House' in full below:

Oscars 2022 shortlist for Best Documentary Short Subject:

  • Aguilas
  • Audible
  • A Broken House
  • Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis
  • Coded: The Hidden Love of J C Leyendecker
  • Day of Rage
  • The Facility
  • Lead Me Home
  • Lynching Postcards: "Token of a Great Day”
  • The Queen of Basketball
  • Sophie and the Baron
  • Takeover
  • Terror Contagion
  • Three Songs for Benazir
  • When We Were Bullies
Updated: December 22, 2021, 7:02 AM