Two Arab productions, a movie from Lebanon and a documentary from Syria, made history on Tuesday when they were nominated for Academy Awards, Hollywood’s highest honor.
The first film, Lebanon’s “The Insult” was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, making it the first Lebanese movie to be considered for an Oscar.
Directed by Ziad Doueiri, the movie is about a petty plumbing dispute between a Lebanese Christian man and a Palestinian refugee that escalates dramatically.
The movie stars Lebanon’s Adel Karam and Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha, whose role in the film earned him the award for best male actor at the 74th Venice International Film Festival.
Reacting to the nomination, Doueiri said: "It's such great news for us and for Lebanon. It's been a very, very long and difficult road to get where we are. ... It says that in spite of all these things, there is a hope of reconciliation."
"Making films means crossing borders," he added. He said he hoped "The Insult" would show a different side of the Middle East, a region often associated with violence and turmoil.
"It says that in spite of all these things, there is a hope of reconciliation," the director told The Associated Press.
“The Insult” will compete in its category against "Loveless," from Russia; “A Fantastic Woman” from Chile; "On Body and Soul," from Hungary; and the Palme d'Or winner "The Square," from Sweden.
The other Arab movie to make Oscar history is “Last Men in Aleppo”, which is nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category.
"They say those who have the power always write history. We who don't have power are now writing history, one that can't be (erased),” said Firas Fayyad, the director of the documentary in an Associated Press interview.
He called the nomination "a big shout out to justice" because it documents what he called the war crimes of the Syrian regime.
The Netflix production follows a group of first responders in the White Helmets who remain in the opposition-held part of Aleppo city and dig through the rubble and follow bombings from the Syrian regime for survivors. The rescuers themselves often come under attack as they carry out their rescue missions.
Making it to the United States is an added struggle for Fayyad, who left the war-torn country in 2012 and lives in Denmark. With his Syrian passport, he has been interrogated for hours before being permitted in the US.
The documentary will compete in its category against “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” “Faces Places,” “Icarus,” and “Strong Island.”
The Academy Awards will be held in the US on March 4.