On Tuesday, at the 2019 Oscar Nominees Luncheon, John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said 2019's list of awards hopefuls was notable for its diversity.
"This year has the largest class of women nominees," he said. "Inclusion, diversity, racial, ethnic and gender equality are not just buzzwords. They go to the heart of what our Academy is doing."
Whether or not that is true is still a matter of debate (English-speaking countries still dominate the pack, only two nominations out of 20 were for black actors, and female directors are woefully under-represented – read The National's thoughts on all that here), but it was nice to see that representatives from the Arab world did find each other during the lunch.
Nadine Labaki, the first-ever Lebanese female film director nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, gathered with three other nominees from the Arab world for a group selfie, somewhat proving Bailey's point.
On the official Instagram account for her film, Capernaum, Labaki wrote: "Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian nominees at the #Oscar luncheon!" This included actor Rami Malek, producer Khaled Mouzanar and director Talal Derki.
Labaki and Mouzanar's Capernaum, as mentioned, is up for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination, against Alfonso Cuaron's frontrunner Roma, while Malek, who was born to Egyptian parents, is nominated for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, and Syrian director Derki was among nominees for his documentary Of Fathers and Sons.
Will they win? That's another matter up for debate. But we certainly are rooting for them.