We are thrilled to announce that Screen Academy Scotland graduate Basil Khalil’s short film AVE MARIA has been nominated for an Oscars® after being shortlisted on The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ list of ten Live-Action Short Films to be considered for the Academy Awards® in 2016. In December, members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch selected five nominees from the group during screenings in Los Angeles, London, New York and San Francisco. The Final nominations were revealed on January 14th. The winner will be announced on 28th February at the 88th Academy Awards® ceremony.

The 14 minute film tells the story of the Nuns of the ‘Sisters of Mercy’ Convent, in the middle of the West Bank wilderness, who have their daily routine of silence and prayer disrupted when a family of Jewish settlers come knocking at their door for help after crashing into the convent’s wall.

The title of the film, “AVE MARIA”, is Latin for “Hail Mary”, an important Roman Catholic prayer. The film was written by Basil Khalil and Daniel Yáñez, and stars Maria Zreik, Huda Al Imam, Shady Srour, Ruth Farhi and Maya Koren. The film is produced by Incognito Films in Paris in collaboration with Flying Moon Filmproduktion, with the support of Robert Bosch Stiftung Fund in Germany.

During the past few weeks, AVE MARIA has added three more awards to its trophy cabinet with wider international recognition in different film festivals. At the 37th CINEMED International Mediterranean Film Festival in Montpellier, France, AVE MARIA received the Audience Award, and in Taiwan, the film won the GREEN S.O.S Award for short films concerning humanity and environmental issues at the Kaoshiung Film Festival. Most recently the film won Second Place in the Confrontations Competition for films against violence and intolerance at the 31st International Short Film Festival of Berlin (INTERFILM).

In December, AVE MARIA will be in competition at the Muhr Short Competition at 12th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) from 9th – 16th December, landing its Arab world premiere. Following to that, AVE MARIA will screen at ten other festivals in Croatia, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Thailand, France and Canada.

AVE MARIA’s international journey began with its world premiere in the Short Film Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2015, followed by Festival du Film Court de Grenoble, France’s longest-standing short film festival, where it won Best Screenplay Award. The film also received a Special Mention for Best Live Action Short Film at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival (North America’s largest short film festival), in addition to the First Place award in the HP Bridging The Borders Awards. Basil Khalil was awarded a prize for Best Director  at Cervignano Film Festival in Italy, and the film received as well Second Prize for Best Short Film at the 5th International Short Film Festival of Cyprus, Best Short Film at Adana Golden Boll  Mediterranean Short Film Festival in Turkey.

To date, AVE MARIA has been well received at more than 45 international film festivals in 24 different countries, including Australia, France, Italy, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, USA, Sweden, Greece and the United Kingdom, with more being announced regularly.

About Basil Khalil
Award winning director Basil Khalil was born and raised in Nazareth, to a Palestinian father and a British mother. After studying for an MA at Screen Academy Scotland, Basil worked on a number of television productions in London. In 2011 Basil was selected by SCREEN International as one of “top 10 Arab filmmakers to watch”. Basil is currently developing his debut feature comedy screenplay.