‘Timbuktu’ is Africa’s lone star at the Oscars

POLLY KAMUKAMA

Timbuktu, the critically-acclaimed Mauritanian film about jihadism, is Africa’s sole hope at this year’s Academy awards after scooping a nod in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The French-Arabic language film, Mauritania’s first ever submission to the Academy awards, will tussle it out with films from Russia, Estonia, Poland and Argentina for the coveted gong come February 22.

The film chronicles the effects of jihadist movements in Mali

The film chronicles the effects of jihadist movements in Mali

News of the film’s nomination didn’t come as much of a surprise to keen industry watchers considering it has had an impressive run following a knockout debut at the prestigious Cannes film Festival in France last May.

Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, a France-based Mauritian filmmaker and one of the most revered figures in African cinema, Timbuktu chronicles the devastation suffered by the people of Mali under Islamic rule.

It was particularly inspired by the real life story of the 2012 stoning of a young unmarried couple in the northern town of Aguelhok where Islamists had imposed strict sharia law forbidding such things as pre-marital sex, football and music.

The film was inspired by the real life stoning to death of a young unmarried couple in the Malian town of Aguelhok where Islamists had imposed strict sharia law that forbade among others pre-marital sex, football and music.

The film was inspired by the real life stoning to death of a young unmarried couple in the Malian town of Aguelhok where Islamists had imposed strict sharia law that forbade among others pre-marital sex, football and music.

In the days leading up to yesterday’s announcement of the nominees, Sissako was quoted saying an Oscar win would be the ultimate homage to both African cinema and victims of religious fanaticism worldwide.

And the film’s nomination could not be any timely given the spate of terrorism attacks by Islamic extremists across the world.

If Sissoko’s film goes on to win the award, it would become the third African film to ever achieve the feat following previous victories by Ivory Coast’s Black & White in Colour and South Africa’s Tsotsi in 1977 and 2006, respectively.

The Academy award, better know as the Oscar, is the world's most prestigious film accolade.

The Academy award, better know as the Oscar, is the world’s most prestigious film accolade.

Another South African film, Yesterday, a compelling tale of a young Aids-stricken single mother struggling to put her daughter through school, was nominated in 2005 but lost out to a Spanish film.

Incepted in 1956, the Best Foreign Language Oscar seeks to acknowledge outstanding feature-length films produced outside USA with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.

The Academy receives hundreds of submissions every year, which are then gradually trimmed down to five finalists that are announced mid January along with the other nominees in the other categories.

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o last year made history by becoming  the first black African actress to win an Oscar courtesy of her acclaimed performance in '12 Years a Slave'.

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o last year made history by becoming
the first black African actress to win an Oscar courtesy of her acclaimed performance in ’12 Years a Slave’.

Unlike in other categories, the Best Foreign Film award goes to the submitting country, not the film’s director or producer. A single entry is allowed from each country every year.

South Africa has so far been the most consistent African country, boasting an entry nearly every year since 1989.

Charlize Theron, a white Hollywood-based South African actress, became the first African to win an individual acting Oscar award courtesy of her gritty turn in the 2003 biopic Monster.

Last year, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became the first black African to achieve the feat after winning the Best Supporting Actress gong for her heartbreaking performance as the tortured slave, Patsey, in Steve McQueen’s epic drama, 12 Years a Slave.

Meanwhile, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel are toping this year’s Oscar quest with nine nominations each – including best picture – followed by Boyhood and American Sniper with six nods each.

Actress Angelina Jolie’s acclaimed directorial debut Unbroken was a bit of a disappointment with only three nods in the technical categories while hyped journalist movie Nightcrawler could only afford one spot.

Not a single black actor made the Oscar shortlist this year despite a number of highly-acclaimed performances.

This year’s Oscars take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 22, and will be telecast live in over 226 countries including Uganda.

Full List of 2015 Oscar Nominees

Best Picture

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash 

Best Actor

Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

 Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

 Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

 Best Director

Alejandro  González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennet Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tydlum, “The Imitation Game”

 Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Best Foreign Film

Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Documentary Feature

Citizenfour
Finding Vivian Maer
Last Days in Vietnam
Virunga
Salt of the Earth 

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 

Film Editing

American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash 

Best Song

The Lego Movie
Selma
Beyond the Lights
Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Begin Again 

Best Original Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything 

Best Cinematography

Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken 

Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner 

Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy 

Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner 

Sound Editing

American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken 

Sound Mixing

American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash 

Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past 

Short Film, Live Action

Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh
The Phone Call 

Short Film, Animated

The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and my Moulton
A Single Life

Documentary Short Subject
Crisis Hotline
Johanna
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth 

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

 

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