This year's Golden Globe Awards will once again honour the best in American film and television. Granted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the awards also celebrate the best of foreign language films.
A feature film can be entered into the awards if it’s a motion picture drama, musical or comedy with at least 51 per cent of the dialogue spoken in a non-English language. Documentary and animation do not qualify.
Ordinarily, the film must also have been released in its country of origin in the 15-month period – from October 1 to December 31 – prior to the awards. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, at this year's event, which takes place on Sunday, February 28, a film will still be eligible if it has been commercially released in any country. The format is also of no issue. A film released on any platform can enter, be it cinema, TV, video-on-demand, streaming services or DVD.
The qualifying release dates have also been extended, to include films released between October 1, 2019, and February 28, 2021.
The Golden Globes website says this year a staggering number of foreign language films were submitted to the awards – a total 140 from 77 countries (of which 37 are directed or co-directed by women).
Here, we take a look at the Arab films that have been submitted for this year’s consideration.
1. '200 Metres' (Jordan)
Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh took inspiration from his life to write his debut feature, 200 Metres. After premiering and winning the BNL People's Choice Award at the Venice International Film Festival last year, the film has been screened at festivals around the world and won a number of awards including three at El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt. 200 Metres sheds light on the traumatic but familiar ordeal of crossing borders, following Mustafa – played by Ali Suliman of Paradise Now – as he makes a risky journey to unite with his family who are only 200 metres away. The film is currently Jordan's official submission for Best International Film at the Academy Awards.
2. 'Between Heaven and Earth' (Palestine)
Palestinian director Najwa Najjar's third feature film is a divorce drama in which a couple make a final journey together. Between Heaven and Earth premiered at the Cairo International Film Festival in 2019, and is inspired by the Palestinian Christian village of Iqrit in northern Galilee. In an interview with The National, Najjar said learning about Iqrit's history moved her to make the film.
3. 'Broken Keys' (Lebanon)
Jimmy Keyrouz's feature film is based on his award-winning short Nocturne in Black, which won the Gold award for Best Narrative at the Student Academy Awards in 2016, the Bafta Student Film Award for Live Action in 2017 and a student award at the Directors Guild of America Awards. The film was even shortlisted among the live-action short films for the 89th Academy Awards. Broken Keys is set in 2014 in a neighbourhood that has fallen under the control of ISIS and tells the story of a young musician who struggles to rebuild his piano destroyed by terrorists in a place where music has also been banned. The film has also been officially submitted as Lebanon's Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards.
4. 'C-Section' (Lebanon)
Lebanon's second entry, C Section, unravels social differences in Lebanon through the story of two couples who end up in the same maternity ward. The comedy drama is directed by David Oryan and written by Isaac Fahed and Doris Saba. It stars Ammar Shalak, Gabriel Yammine, Pamela El Kik, Rola Beksmati and Shady Haddad, and has been screened at festivals including the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada.
5. 'The Man Who Sold His Skin' (Tunisia)
Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania's second feature film is also inspired by a real-life story. The idea came to her when she saw Belgian artist Wim Delvoye produce a piece called Tim, for which he tattooed the back of Tim Steiner, a former tattoo parlour owner from Zurich. The Man Who Sold His Skin tells the story of a Syrian refugee who agrees to a proposal by a celebrated Euro-American artist to use his back as a canvas for an artwork. The film world premiered at Venice Film Festival last year, where it won the Best Actor award for Yahya Mahayni, who plays the refugee. It went on to screen at international festivals and win other awards, including at El Gouna Film Festival. It is Tunisia's official submission for the Oscars.
6. 'Mosul' (Iraq)
Written and directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan and produced by Anthony and Joe Russo, Mosul tells the story of an Iraqi Swat team's effort to fight ISIS after it took over their homes and city. Under constant threat of attack, the unit embarks on a dangerous guerrilla operation, determined to wipe out an enemy base and restore order to the lawless territory. While it is an American film, the characters speak Arabic. The Netflix film stars Suhail Dabbach and Waleed Elgadi among others.
7. 'Oliver Black' (Morocco)
Directed by Tawfik Baba, Oliver Black tells the story of a young black boy called Vendredi who crosses the desert to reach Morocco and join a circus. However, an encounter with a lost elderly man changes his life for ever. The film has screened at international festivals and won a number of awards including Best International Feature Film in the Festival de Cinema de Alter do Chao in Brazil and the Best International Film Award at the Festival International de Cinema de Lleida in Spain.
8. 'You Will Die at Twenty' (Sudan)
You Will Die At Twenty is the first Sudanese film to be officially submitted by Sudan for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards. The debut feature from director Amjad Abu Alala premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and won the Lion of the Future Award. Since then, it has shown at many festivals and won numerous awards. It tells the story of Muzamil, whose mother takes him to the local village sheikh to be blessed after his birth. However, the sheikh tells the mother the child will die when he turns 20. The film, inspired by a short Sudanese story, Sleeping at The Foot of The Mountain, is currently on Netflix.