There was disappointment for British/Palestinian director Basil Khalil early this morning when his Palestine-set short comedy Ave Maria missed out on Oscar glory for Best Live Action Short. Although Khalil's film had been tipped for success in some industry circles, it ultimately lost out to Stutterer by British filmmakers Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage.
Ave Maria, a 15-minute comedy, follows a Jewish settler family forced to seek the help of a group of nuns when their car breaks down besides a remote convent.
The movie premièred at last year’s Cannes Film festival and has since gone onto screen at more than 50 festivals. The film has also been acquired by broadcasters in France, Spain and Japan, as well as by distributors in Canada and the Middle East.
Khalil's film was among a multinational field of competition for the prize, with films from the USA, UK, Austria and a UK/Kosovo co-production making up the shortlist. The eventual winner, Stutterer, focuses on the life of a lonely typographer who resorts to online dating due to his speech impediment.
Speaking to The National ahead of last night's ceremony in Los Angeles, Khalil expressed his joy for being nominated "I already feel like a winner as a nominee — that's a title for life," he said. "I can't ask for anything else."