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Despite reaching global ranks, why haven’t Egyptian movies win an Oscar?

The Academy Award, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States of America, is the most prominent annual global award for cinematic arts. Filmmakers eagerly anticipate it every year, because winning an Oscar adds great value to the film and its makers.

And the Academy Award is not limited to English-speaking films only. In 1956, the Academy added a new category within the award categories, which is the category of films in a foreign language. Although Egypt has submitted 34 films to participate in the festival since that time, none of the films that were officially submitted were accepted for the final competition for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

ويبدأ تاريخ السينما المصرية والعربية مع هذه الجائزة في عام 1958، عندما تقدمت مصر بفيلم “باب الحديد” من بطولة هند رستم وفريد شوقي وإخراج يوسف شاهين، وذلك في الدورة الـ 31 من الجائزة، حيث تنافس الفيلم مع 9 أفلام أخرى، لكنه لم يصل إلى مرحلة الترشيحات النهائية. ومن بعده توالت مصر في تقديم الأفلام للمشاركة في مسابقة الأوسكار، حيث تم ترشيح فيلم “دعاء الكروان” من إخراج بركات وبطولة أمينة رزق وفاتن حمامة وأحمد مظهر، في عام 1959. وبعده فيلم “المراهقات” إخراج أحمد ضياء الدين، وبطولة ماجدة ورشدي أباظة، في 1960.

The history of Egyptian and Arab cinema begins with this award in 1958, when Egypt presented the movie “Bab Al Hadid” starring Hind Rostom and Farid Shawqi and directed by Youssef Chahine, in the 31st session of the award. The film competed with 9 other films. However, it did not reach Final nomination stage. After that, Egypt continued to submit films to participate in the Oscar competition, where the movie “Doaa Al-Karwan” directed by Barakat and starring Amina Rizk, Faten Hamama and Ahmed Mazhar, was nominated in 1959. Then the movie “Adolescents” directed by Ahmed Dia El Din, starring Magda and Rushdi Abaza, in 1960.

In 1961, the movie “Oh Islam”, starring Lubna Abdel Aziz and Ahmed Mazhar, directed by Shadi Abdel Salam, was nominated. The movie “The Thief and the Dogs” directed by Kamal Al-Sheikh in 1962, starring Shadia and Shukri Sarhan, was also nominated. Then, the movie “The Mother of the Bride” by Atef Salem in 1963, starring Tahia Karioka and Imad Hamdi, The movie “The Impossible” by Hussein Kamal and starring Nadia Lutfi and Kamal Al-Shennawi, in 1965. While the nomination in 1966 went to the movie “Cairo 30” by Salah Abu Seif, starring Soad Hosni and Ahmed Mazhar.

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After 3 years of absence, Egypt returned again in 1970 to participate in the Academy Award with the film “The Mummy” directed by Shadi Abdel Salam, starring Nadia Lotfy. Then the movie “A woman and a Man” starring Nahid Al Sharif and Rushdi Abaza and directed by Hossam Al Din Mustafa, in 1971. The movie “My Wife and the Dog” by Saeed Marzouk and starring Soad Hosni, Mahmoud Morsi and Nour Al Sharif, in 1972, in the 70th Academy Awards session.

In 1973, Egypt nominated the movie “Empire of M”, directed by Hussein Kamal, starring Faten Hamama and Ahmed Mazhar. As well as the movie “I want a solution” directed by Saeed Marzouk in 1975, starring Faten Hamama and Rushdi Abaza. In 1976, the movie “Who Shall We Shoot?” was nominated, starring Soad Hosni, Mahmoud Yassin and Ezzat Al-Alayli, directed by Kamal Al-Sheikh.

While director Youssef Chahine presented his second film at the Oscars, “Alexandria, Why?” in 1979, starring Naglaa Fathy, Mohsen Mohieldin and Ahmed Zaki. The film “People of the Summit”, directed by Ali Badrakhan, was nominated for the award in 1981, starring Nour Sharif and Soad Hosni. After Egypt’s absence from the Oscars for a period of 8 years, this time, it returned again to nominate a new film by director Youssef Chahine in 1990, the movie “Alexandria More and More”, starring Yousra, Hussein Fahmy and Amr Abdel Galil.

Director Daoud Abdel Sayed participated in 1994, for the movie “The Land of Dreams”, starring Faten Hamama, Yahya Al-Fakharani and Hisham Selim. While the film “The Destiny”, directed by Youssef Chahine and starring Laila Elwi, Nour El-Sherif and Mahmoud Hemida, was nominated for the 70th Academy Award in 1997. In 2001, a youth film starring Maya Shiha and Sherif Ramzy was nominated, the film ” Secrets of Girls”, directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali.

Also in 2003, the controversial film “Sahar Al-Layali” was nominated, starring Mona Zaki, Hanan Turk, Ola Ghanem, Jihan Fadel, Ahmed Helmy, Sherif Mounir, Khaled Abu Naga and Fathi Abdel Wahab, and the film is directed by Hani Khalifa. The film “I love cinema” directed by Osama Fawzy, starring Laila Elwi and Mahmoud Hamida, was also nominated in 2004, and the film “The Yacoubian Building” by Marwan Hamed in 2006, which included a large group of stars, most notably Yousra, Adel Imam and Nour Al Sharif.

As for the movie “In the Heliopolis Apartment” by director Muhammad Khan, it was chosen in 2007 to represent Egypt for the 80th Academy Award nomination, starring Ghada Adel and Khaled Abul-Naga. Then the movie “Al-Jazeera” in 2008, starring Hend Sabry, Ahmed El-Sakka and Khaled El-Sawy, directed by Sherif Arafa. The movie “Letters of the Sea” directed by Daoud Abdel Sayed in 2010, starring Basma and Aser Yassin was also nominated.

Then the movie “Longing ” starring Sawsan Badr and Ruby, directed by Khaled Al-Hajar, was presented to participate in the Oscars 2011. And the movie “The Last Winter ” in 2013, directed by Ibrahim Al-Batout and starring Farah Youssef and Amr Waked. The nomination was in 2014 to Yasmine Rais and Hani Adel, through the movie “Factory Girl” directed by Muhammad Khan. Then the movie “Engage”, directed by Mohamed Diab, starring Nelly Karim, Hani Adel, Ahmed Malik and Ahmed Dash, in 2016.

In 2017, the committee tasked with selecting the Oscar-nominated Egyptian film nominated Sheikh Jackson, directed by Amr Salama, starring Amina Khalil, Dora, Ahmed El-Fishawy and Ahmed Malik, to participate in the 90th Academy Awards. In 2018, the film “Yom El Din” directed by Abu Bakr Shawky was nominated. The film stars Radi Gamal and Ahmed Abdel Hafez. The film “Poisonous Roses” directed by Fawzi Saleh was also selected to participate in the 2019 Oscar nominations, starring Marehan Magdy and Mahmoud Hamida. Finally, the movie “When We Are Born” starring Dana Hamdan, Amr Abed, Amir Eid and Mohamed Hatem, directed by Tamer Ezzat.

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