Majid Al Remaihi makes history with Qatar’s first Oscar submission

The Qatari film scene has witnessed stark growth in recent years, and Remaihi’s latest nomination is the biggest proof.

Majid Al Remaihi’s “And Then They Burn The Sea” film might add yet another award to its collection as it joins the qualification list for the grand Academy Award in the category of Documentary Short Subject.

The Qatari artist, writer, filmmaker, and full-time film programmer made history by being the nation’s first-ever Oscar-qualifying filmmaker.

“This submission for the Academy Awards is a milestone for myself and the many hands that went into making And Then They Burn The Sea,” said Al Remaihi.

His work closely examines how art may serve as a platform to explore how he personally interacts with “institutionalised living” in the Gulf in the 21st century.

As an expression of grief and family in ‘And Then They Burn the Sea,’ Al-Remaihi laments the experience of seeing his mother gradually lose her memory. Forever.

“Seven years ago, I began to feel an endless sea driving a wedge between myself and my mother as her struggle with Alzheimer’s continued to chip away at her sense of being,” the filmmaker said.

“At nineteen, there was no specific way for me to reconcile with this continuous and incremental loss, of what it had robbed, and what it continues to rob of the futures and pasts that are suddenly irretrievable. But cinema, and this film, helped me piece together abstractions and unfinished conversations as a result of my need for gestures to mourn and heal.”

Now, what started as a son trying to make sense of a loss, transpired into an Oscar-qualifying film. 

Doha Film Institute (DFI), which funded the film, referred to the latest accolade of the filmmaker as “a wonderful milestone for Qatari cinema.”

“We congratulate Majid and his entire crew for what is certainly an inspiring success story particularly for aspiring local storytellers hoping to reach a wider, international audience,” the institute said on its social media.

The 13-minute short film had also previously bagged the main prize in the Fiction and Documentary International Competition at the Vienna Shorts Film Festival, in addition to qualifying for the European Film Award and Austrian Film Award among others.

The 95th Oscars will take place on March 12, 2023.

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