Rabat – Morocco did not make the cut for the upcoming 2018 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. After raising eyebrows over the legality of its participation in the Oscars, Nabil Ayouch’s Razzia ended up being eliminated from the race for honours.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday, the shortlist for best foreign-language film, cutting down the 92 foreign submissions to just nine.
The continent is now competing with Senegalese film Félicité by Alain Gomis and South African The Wound by John Trengove, while the Arab world’s chances of victory are in the hands of Lebanese Ziad Doueiri’s film L’insulte.
Worldwide, the films retained in the competition are from Chile, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, Russia, Senegal and South Africa.
A Fruitless Debate
On September 16, the Moroccan Cinematographic Center (CCM) announced that it nominated an “independent committee” which selected Ayouch’s kaleidoscopic social drama “Razzia” to compete in the foreign-language category of the 2018 Academy Awards. The CCM specified that this selection was made “in accordance with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (OSCARS).”
“Razzia” is set in Ouarzazate, the Atlas Mountains and Casablanca. It is composed of five separate stories, one of which dates back to the 1980s in the Atlas Mountains. The remaining four storylines take place in present day Casablanca.
Ayouch revealed that the film primarily focuses on social issues such as the difference between upper and lower classes and freedom of speech, an issue that concerns all Moroccans, regardless of their social status. In addition, the film deals with the intolerance between social groups and “the increasing tendency that lead them to contempt each other.”
Far from lauding the movie’s selection for such prestigious award after CCM’s announcement, many media outlets screamed scandal, throwing accusations of foul play and conflict of interests.
Arabic speaking news website Ihata accused Ayouch of having circumvented the Award Academy’s rules and regulation.
At the time of the polemic, the committee insisted that “Razzia” has already made an official commercial release in Morocco. A member of the CCM committee contacted by MWN who chose to stay unnamed affirmed that Razzia made its official release at the Colisée movie theater in Marrakech, which the director Ayouch himself confirmed.
However the manager of the movie theater, said that “Razzia” had been released on August 26 and was screened only until August 29. He would not disclose the number of tickets sold.
The news of this presumed projection are nowhere to be found, including on “Razzia’s” active official Facebook page, which lists all of the aforementioned international screenings of the film.