The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) encourages numerous nations to submit their films each year to compete for the title of the best foreign feature film. Eight African nations, including Uganda, which submitted for the first time, have successfully submitted ahead of the 95th Academy Awards.
With only three wins out of nine nominations in this particular category, African nations have had a mixed record at the Oscars. Algeria won the Best Foreign Language Film award for the first time at the 41st Academy Awards in 1969 with “Z,” a political satire, back when the category was still known as Best Foreign Language Film. With its anti-war black comedy “Black and White in Color,” Côte d’Ivoire won the award in 1976, and South Africa’s “Tsotsi,” directed by Gavin Hood, won it in 2005.
These eight movies are the ones that made it through the selection and submission processes and are vying to represent Africa this season. The 15-film shortlist will be revealed on December 21st 2022, and the final five nominees will be revealed on January 24th, 2023, along with the other categories.
Algeria: Our Brothers
Rachid Bouchareb, a three-time Oscar contender (all in the category of foreign cinema), continues with Our Brothers, his career-long investigation of the legacy of French colonialism in Algeria. The crime thriller, which is based on actual events from December 1986, describes the difficulties faced by a police inspector as he attempts to look into a drunken officer’s murder of a French-Algerian student on the same night that students are protesting for reforms to higher education.
Cameroon: The Planter’s Plantation
Nigerian superstar Nkem Owoh plays a supporting part in Dingha Young Eystein’s musical drama The Planter’s Plantation. The movie, which is set in the 1960s, follows the struggles of Enanga (Nimo Loveline), a strong young woman who battles valiantly to protect a plantation left to her late father by a departing colonial official. The movie is marketed as a look at neo-colonization in the area.
A bunch of African superheroes band together in a fictitious Nairobi city to try to stop an ancient wizard from destroying the planet with a potent artefact. Kenyan filmmaker Andrew Kaggia took a risk by choosing the computer-animated science fiction movie TeraStorm.
Morocco: The Blue Caftan
The Blue Caftan by Maryam Touzani, which made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, is the movie on this list that is anticipated to advance the furthest. The Blue Caftan pokes fun at a subject that is still prohibited in many conservative communities and questions the bounds of honour and covert obsessions while balancing them against the essential desire for independence and sexual emancipation.
With this vibrant, richly detailed drama about a 15-year-old student and her twin brother, who dream of a better life in Europe, veteran director Moussa Sène Absa is in good form. The visually stunning and exquisitely stylized Xalé seamlessly combines narrative traditions and styles, ranging from regional folklore to traditional musicals and Western-inspired soap operas.
Tanzania: Tug of War
A captivating historical romance from the 1950s that takes place in colonial Zanzibar The film Tug of War, which was directed by Amil Shivji, is based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Shafi Adam Shafi, a prominent figure in Swahili literature.
Tunisia: Under the Fig Trees
The world is reduced to a single summer day for a bunch of fig harvesters doing gig work in an orchard whose dishonest management wants to take advantage of them in Erige Sehiri’s brilliant debut full-length film.
Morris Mugisha’s Tembele, an award-winning drama about the title character, a garbage guy performed by Patriq Nkakalukanyi, is Uganda’s first-ever Oscar entry. Tembele is a mentally sick garbage guy who starts to lose his sense of reality after his young son dies. The movie explores how Tembele and others around him are affected by this tragedy. Tembele “suggests that it is OK for a man to cry and vulnerability is no crime especially if you’re grieving,” claims filmmaker Mugisha.