4 items from 2013
Although there’s no “Pardon Our Dust” sign adorning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Wilshire Boulevard headquarters, even the casual observer will have noticed that the Academy has spent the past few years engaged in an extensive and seemingly endless home-improvement project.
And nowhere have Oscar’s renovations been more extensive than in the foreign-language film competition, where both the nominating and voting protocols have been extensively overhauled, with more changes possibly in the offing.
The latest and most significant foreign-language rule change, announced in spring and to be implemented this Oscar cycle, abolishes the longstanding requirement that Academy members have to see all five nominated films in a theatrical setting in order to cast ballots in that category. While that rule theoretically created a level playing field among the nominees (which might include a box office behemoth like “Amelie” alongside the relatively unknown Bosnian import “No »
- Scott Foundas
Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins
Release Date: September 20, 2013 (Chicago)
Plot: A ten-year-old from Saudi Arabia named Wadjda (Mohammed) enters a Koran-reciting contest so that she can use the prize money to buy a bike.
Who’S It For? Those who like to witness revolutions.
Wadjda is a film from a country that doesn’t have movie theaters. It is about archaic rules for women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country that fears gender mixing at public film screenings. Saudi Arabia has a slowly growing film scene, but such homemade products, such as first-Saudi-made movie titled in 2006 Keif al-Hal? (translated to “How are you?”) can only be viewed in private living spaces. Showtime Arabia hooked people up with Keif al-Hal, and TV is a handy way to get censored media. Even video stores exist, but scenes »
- Nick Allen
If you had gone to see every single one of the acclaimed movies from Iran that have played in the U.S. since the mid-’90s — the lyrically subdued Abbas Kiarostami films, like Through the Olive Trees and Taste of Cherry, that were hailed at the time as minimalist masterpieces; the feminist political parable The Circle; scrappy fables like The White Balloon, Children of Heaven, and A Time for Drunken Horses; the enchantingly colorful woven rug of a movie Gabbeh — it would be perfectly reasonable for you to come away from that experience thinking that Iran is a land of »
- Owen Gleiberman
Duelling biopics of Muhammad reflect differing traditions of Sunni and Shia Islam over depiction of the Muslim prophet
Film-makers in Iran and Qatar are planning rival biopics about the life of Muslim prophet Muhammad, according to the Hollywood Reporter, despite the risk of offending religious sensibilities that such plans inevitably throw up.
Oil-rich Qatar recently announced a series of epics designed for a worldwide audience about the seventh-century prophet of Islam. Production company Alnoor Holdings has hired Lord of the Rings producer Barrie Osborne and Sunni Islam scholar and al-Jazeera broadcaster Yusuf al-Qaradawi to provide advice on what could be a $1bn project. "They certainly have the money to do it," Osborne told the Hollywood Reporter, adding: "They are being understandably very cautious."
- Ben Child
4 items from 2013
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