Maha Haj’s drama Mediterranean Fever, which world premiered in Cannes Un Certain Regard this year, has been selected as Palestine’s official entry in the best international film category.
A committee consisting of Palestinian film professionals, overseen by the country’s Ministry of Culture, made their choice earlier this week.
The Haifa-set drama co-stars Amer Hiehel as Waleed, an aspiring writer suffering from chronic depression who cultivates a relationship with a petty criminal neighbor (Ashraf Fara), but with a sinister ulterior motive.
The film is Haj’s second feature after Personal Affairs, which also debuted in Un Certain Regard in 2016.
The filmmaker has explained that the character of Waleed is a reflection of her own dark side and the frustrations of Palestinians living in Israel. One-third of the population of the port city of Haifa, which has been part of Israel since 1948, is Palestinian.
Producers on Mediterranean Fever are Baher Aghbariya at Haifa-based Majdal Films; Germany’s Thanassis Karathanos and Martin Hampel at Pallas Film; France’s Juliette Lepoutre and Pierre Menahem at Still Moving, and Marios Piperides, Janine Teerling at Cyprus-based Amp Filmworks.
Key backers include Germany’s Metteldeutsche Medienforderung film fund , Eurimages, the Cypriot Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, La Région Île-de-France, Doha Film Institute, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and France’s l’Aide aux cinémas du monde fund.
Paris-based Luxbox handles international sales.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first recognized Palestine as a territory in 2003 and since then there have been 15 Palestinian submissions including Mediterranean Fever.
To date, Palestine has scored two nominations for Hany Abu Assad’s Omar and Paradise Now in 2005 and 2013 respectively.