Two films by Arab filmmakers have been nominated for an Oscar this year. Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania's The Man Who Sold His Skin will compete in the International Feature Film category, while Palestinian-British director Farah Nabulsi's The Present is up for the Best Live Action Short award.
The Man Who Sold His Skin, which stars Yahya Mahayni, follows the story of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, who agrees to have his back tattooed by a famous artist in the hopes of joining his partner in Paris.
The story is inspired by real-life events, Ben Hania told The National last year. In 2006, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye tattooed the back of Tim Steiner, a former studio owner from Zurich. The living artwork was sold to a collector and Steineragreed to have his back skinned after his death, so the owner could hang the piece.
“The original work of art was just a starting point,” said Ben Hania. “Many movies start with an image, then you have to have a story with an emotional journey.”
The film is up against Another Round from Denmark, Better Days from Hong Kong, Collective from Romania and Quo Vadis, Aida? from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Present, Nabulsi's directorial debut, tells the story of Yousef, played by Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, who decides to buy a gift for his wife on their anniversary. The task is almost impossible because of the challenges of life under occupation.
The film, which Nabulsi co-wrote with Palestinian poet Hind Shofani, has won numerous awards and has also received a Bafta nomination for Best British Short.
"At its essence, the film is about human dignity and ... what it means for someone to continuously be dehumanised," Nabulsi told The National last year. "It's a simple story that speaks volumes about the absurd situation that exists there [in Palestine]."
Other films in the same category include Feeling Through, The Letter Room, Two Distant Strangers and White Eye.
Meanwhile, Mank, Nomadland and The Trial of the Chicago 7 lead the nominations. And for the first time in the event's history, two female filmmakers are nominated for Best Director – Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell for Nomadland and Promising Young Woman respectively.
Six black actors and actresses are up for an Oscar this year, which equals a record set in 2017. Danial Kaluuya will compete in the Best Supporting Actor category with Leslie Odom Jr and Lakeith Stanfield, while Viola Davis and Andra Day are up for Best Actress. Chadwick Boseman has a posthumous nomination for Best Actor.
The 93rd Oscars is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 25. To see the full list of nominations click here.