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An Oscar Nomination for the Palestinian Short Film AVE MARIA

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After Winning 10 Awards Within Seven Months Only

An Oscar Nomination for the Palestinian Short Film AVE MARIA

After a successful run at well over 50 film festivals in 27 countries, thereby amassing 10 awards in just 7 months, Basil Khalil's Palestinian short film AVE MARIA has now been nominated for the 88th Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short Film.

The announcement was made by Mexican director, writer and producer Guillermo Del Toro and two times Oscar® winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee live on ABC from the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.

AVE MARIA began its journey with its world premiere in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2015, also winning the prestigious Muhr Award at 12th Dubai International Film Festival. MAD Solutions, AVE MARIA's Arab distributor, announced releasing the film in the Arab world within few weeks, marking the first of its kind for a short film in recent times.

The 14-minute comedy tells the story of an order of Palestinian nuns living in the middle of the West Bank wilderness. Their daily routine of silence and prayer is disrupted when a family of Israeli settlers breaks down right outside their convent, just as the Sabbath is beginning. The family need to get home but can't operate the phone, and the Nuns have taken a vow of silence.

"Never in my life did I expect our small film to get this far. I am speechless, elated and very proud of our team. I am thrilled that we were able to achieve so much on such limited resources," says director Basil Khalil.

He further adds, "Initially people thought I was crazy to make a comedy about nuns and Israeli settlers. However, I wanted to make a film that challenges misconceptions, and in a time where extremists have taken over the spotlight, I feel grateful and encouraged when the Academy (AMPAS) embrace a film such as ours."

"A few years ago, we were working on Basil's first long-feature screenplay. In order to show investors what I already knew - that he was a talented and promising director - I suggested that we make a short film similar in tone to the feature. AVE MARIA was born. " says Eric Dupont, from Incognito Films, the Paris-based production company behind the project.

"From the very beginning, we wanted to show a different and lighthearted take on what can happen when religions collide in this region," he adds. "As you can see, the result of his work speaks for itself. I am honoured and humbled that this project has made it here. However, no one deserves this recognition more than Basil".

AVE MARIA and its success is one of the telltale signs that there is a new wave of talent coming from the Arab world who are looking at making films that appeal to an audience beyond the region. There is a new focus on more varied issues, rather than just politics.

Oscar campaign press inquiries: Joshua Jason- / Alvar Carretero-
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