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“Four Daughters” Makes History: An Oscar Nomination for Arab Women in Cinema

January 25, 2024

The 96th Academy Awards nominations brought a new milestone for Arab women in cinema, as Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s docu-fiction, “Four Daughters,” starring Egyptian-Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, has secured a spot in the Best Documentary Feature Film category.

Four Daughters” delves into the emotional story of Olfa Hamrouni, a Tunisian mother grappling with the devastating disappearance of her two eldest daughters, who have allegedly joined the ranks of ISIS. It tackles the complex themes of radicalization, family dynamics, and the far-reaching consequences of extremism.

Four Daughters” garnered widespread critical acclaim following its world premiere at the prestigious 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it was a contender for the coveted Palme d’Or.

Ben Hania is no stranger to Academy recognition, but this marks a historical moment in her career, as she becomes the first Arab women to secure two Oscar nominations. In 2021, her film “The Man Who Sold His Skin” earned an Oscar nomination, while her earlier feature “Beauty and the Dogs” represented Tunisia in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2017.

In recent years, Palestinian directors Farah Al Nabulsi “The Present” and Hany Abu Assad (“Paradise Now,” “Omar“) have received nominations, and Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum was also shortlisted.

Notably, Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek made history in 2019 as the first person of Arab descent to win the Best Actor Oscar.

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