Palestinian film nominated for the Oscars has a Portuguese co-production and was partially shot in the Algarve
Gaza, mon amour, directed by twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser, is Palestine's candidate for an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. It premiered this year at the Venice Film Festival and is a co-production of Palestine, France, Germany, Portugal and Qatar.
The film was later screened at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award, which honours the best Asian films at selected festivals around the world.
Inspired by a true situation that occurred in Gaza in 2014, the film tells the story of Issa (Salim Dau), a 60-year-old fisherman from Gaza, who is secretly in love with the milliner Siham (Hiam Abass) and whose luck changes when he picks up in his fishing net a phallic sculpture of the Greek god Apollo...
The Algarve provided the locations for the filming of scenes on the beaches and in the sea of Gaza, put off-limits by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
Born in Gaza in 1988, Tarzan and Arab Nasser debuted in 2013 with the short film Condom Lead and made their first feature film a year later, entitled Dégradé, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Critics' Week.
Since 2003, Palestine has submitted films for nomination for the awards of the United States Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in the category of best film in a foreign language. Paradise Now, in 2006, and Omar, in 2013, achieved an Oscar nomination.
Palestine's participation in the contest has been the subject of controversy instigated by the pro-Israeli lobby.
In 2002 the film Divine Intervention was not accepted, allegedly because Palestine was not recognized internationally as a country, although other entities without international recognition, such as Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Taiwan had long participated in the contest. It was eventually accepted the following year.
When Paradise Now in 2006 got an Oscar nomination as the representative of Palestine, the lobby of Jewish groups led the Academy to designate Paradise Now as the representative of the Palestinian Authority. Faced with protests by the director, Hany Abu-Assad, as a compromise the film was eventually announced as a representative of the Palestinian Territories.
Later, the candidacies have been presented as representatives of Palestine, namely when Omar, also by Hany Abu-Assad, was nominated for the Oscar in 2014.
But the controversy is not settled, and it will not be surprising that it will reignite if Gaza, mon amour achieves the nomination.