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Africa at the Oscars: Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt Submit Their Selections + Belgium and Italy Opt for African Stories — Akoroko

Last year, eight African countries submitted films for consideration in the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards: Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda. Morocco’s entry, THE BLUE CAFTAN, made it to the shortlist of films considered for nomination.

The deadline for submissions for the 96th Oscars is October 2, 2023.

This article will be updated as more countries (and films) are announced.


Tunisia has submitted a film for consideration in this category, selecting Kaouther Ben Hania’s enthralling docudrama FOUR DAUGHTERS (LES FILLES D’OLFA) to represent the country.

The film, which made its world premiere at Cannes this year, uses a mix of fiction and documentary to capture the story of Olfa Hamrouni, whose older daughters left to fight for Islamic State.


While not an African country, in a somewhat unexpected move, Belgium has selected Baloji’s AUGURE (OMEN) as its entry for the International Feature Film category at the Oscars.

This marks a significant milestone, as it’s the first time a film by an African filmmaker is representing Belgium at the Oscars in the category.

This film is Belgian-Congolese actor, musician, and poet Baloji’s feature debut. A surrealist tale of four characters set in both Belgium and Congo, it made its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard parallel, where it won the New Voice Prize.

A brief history of films directed by African filmmakers that have been official submissions by non-African countries for the Best International Feature Film category at the Oscars:

– I AM NOT A WITCH (2017) directed by Rungano Nyoni was the UK’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. However, it was not nominated.

– LES MISÉRABLES (2019) directed by Ladj Ly was France’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. The film was nominated but did not win.

– SAINT OMER (2022) directed by Alice Diop was selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. It made the December shortlist but was not nominated.


Director Asmae El Moudir’s THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES (winner of two awards at Cannes) has been chosen by the Moroccan Film Center to represent Morocco in the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards.

The film narrates Al-Mudir’s personal journey back to her parent’s home in Casablanca, where she discovers a childhood photo that sparks a deeper exploration.

Currently making its North American premiere at #TIFF23, MOTHER OF LIES is an innovative blend of documentary and drama, highlighting Al-Moudir’s unique storytelling approach.


Omar Hilal’s VOY! VOY! VOY! has been chosen to represent Egypt in the Oscars competition for the Best International Film category. The decision was announced by film critic Fayza Hindawi, a member of the selection committee, on her Facebook account.

VOY! VOY! VOY! tells the story of Hassan, a security guard who lives in poverty with his mother. He dreams of traveling and living abroad. One day, he discovers the sport of blind soccer and cunningly decides to pose as a visually impaired man to join a team right before the World Cup tournament in Europe.

Egypt has been submitting films for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film since 1958. The first submission was Youssef Chahine’s CAIRO STATION, notable for being both the first African and the first Arab film to contend for the award.

However, Egypt has not yet secured a nomination in this category. Chahine is the most frequent representative for Egypt in this category, with four submissions to his name.


IO CAPITANO, directed by Matteo Garrone, will represent Italy at the 96th Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category.

Garrone is not an African filmmaker, but the film tells a story about an African experience, earning Senegalese actor Seydou Sarr the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival.

The Wolof and French film — shot in Senegal, Italy, and Morocco — is a remarkable work that focuses on two Senegalese young men who embark on a treacherous journey to European shores, tackling the complexities of immigration.

Italy joins Belgium as another European country marking a historic Oscars moment, submitting a film that tells an African story for the first time. Belgium selected Baloji’s AUGURE (OMEN) to represent the country in the category, the first time the country has submitted a film by an African filmmaker (although not the first time a film telling an African story was submitted).

It’s possible that more African countries will choose to submit their films before the deadline. It’s a decision that often depends on various factors, including the country’s film industry activity, the quality and acclaim of the film, the selection committees’ decisions, financial considerations, and political and cultural factors.

This article will be updated as more countries (and films) are announced.

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