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Mai Masri to Khaled Mouzanar: Which Arab names have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

The film academy has invited 819 new members to join the class of 2020

Lebanese composer Khaled Mouzanar and Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri. AFP; Getty
Lebanese composer Khaled Mouzanar and Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri. AFP; Getty

Lebanese composer Khaled Mouzanar, Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri and Tunisian director Meryam Joobeur are among the new members invited to join the class of 2020 of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Half of the new class are from outside the US, representing 68 countries, and 45 per cent are women, the film academy announced on Tuesday, June 30.

“We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now,” Academy president David Rubin said in a statement.

The academy announced it had surpassed the goals it set in 2016 to double its female membership that of and underrepresented ethnic and racial communities by 2020.

“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one. We are committed to staying the course,” Academy chief executive Dawn Hudson said.

Those who accept the invitation will become new additions to the Academy’s membership in 2020.

Here is a look at some of the newly invited members who come from the Arab world.

Khaled Mouzanar

The composer and songwriter has composed the scores for many films, including Caramel, Where do We Go Now? and Capernaum, all of which are directed by and star his wife, Nadine Labaki. Mouzanar was also co-producer on Capernaum, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2019.

In an interview with The National last year, the composer said the success of their latest film was “as clear as water”. “I mortgaged my home to do the film,” he says. “It was never a question of not succeeding.” The film won numerous awards but lost to Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma at the Oscars.

Mai Masri

The Amman-born director and producer has made films focusing on the struggle of Palestinians since the 1980s. Her latest feature, 3000 Nights, tells the story of a woman who gives birth to her son while in an Israeli jail. It was screened at Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.

Meryam Joobeur

The Tunisian-American filmmaker is an Oscar-nominated director whose short film Brotherhood received a nod in the short-live action category. The film tells the story of a family shaken by the return of their oldest son, Malik, who after a long journey, comes home with a mysterious new wife. It lost to Marshall Curry’s The Neighbours’ Window.

You can watch Brotherhood in full here:

Mounia Akl

The Lebanese filmmaker’s short film Submarine was selected at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, screened at Toronto International Film Festival and won the Jury Prize at Dubai International Film Festival. Akl holds a master’s degree in directing from Columbia University in New York. She is currently making the feature film Costa Brava Lebanon, which was selected to participate in the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab. She works in Beirut and Los Angeles.

Ahmad Saleh

The Saudi writer and filmmaker, who lives in Germany, holds a master’s degree in film from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, where he wrote and directed two short films. Ayny, his graduation film, won the foreign animation gold medal at the 2016 Student Academy Awards.

Najwa Najjar

The Palestinian-Jordanian writer had her directorial debut with Pomegranates and Myrrh. The film, which starred Yasmine Al Masri and Hiam Abbass, screened at international film festivals.

Tala Hadid

The Iraqi-British filmmaker is an award-winning director and producer. Her latest film, House in the Fields, is a documentary that examines the life of an isolated rural Amazigh community in the High Atlas Mountains. She is also the sister of the late internationally renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.

Rana Eid

The sound editor is considered to be one of the best in the Lebanese film industry today. She is the founder of Rana Studios for audio post-production. One of her latest works is Philippe Aractingi’s Ismaii. Eid also teaches sound for film at the Universite Saint Esprit de Kaslik.

Salem Brahimi

The Algerian-British director is behind a number of films set in Algeria. His moving drama Let Them Come screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize Muhr Feature Award at Dubai International Film Festival in 2015.

Rima Mismar

The Lebanese producer is the executive director of Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, an organisation that supports creatives in the Arab world. Mismar has forged a career as a film critic since the 1990s and has served as jury member at several film festivals.

Ali Essafi

The Moroccan screenwriter made his directorial debut with General, Nous Voila! (General, Here We Come!) in 1997. The film won the special jury award at the Namur Film Festival.

Miranda Yousef

The American-Egyptian director is also an award-winning film editor. She holds a master’s degree in directing from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work includes The New Bauhaus (2019) and Troubadours (2011).

Tarak Ben Ammar

French-Tunisian Tarak Ben Ammar is an international producer and distributor, who has worked on numerous films as a producer, including American Skin (2019).

Malek Bensmail

Born in Cons­tan­tine, the French-Algerian filmmaker started his career at an early age. His film The Battle of Algiers, a Film Within History was screened at festivals around the world and won numerous awards.

Hajooj Kuka

The Sudanese documentary filmmaker wrote and directed his first narrative film Akasha, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2018.

Updated: July 2, 2020 11:54 AM

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