The multi-award winning Muslim feature film “Barakat” has been selected as South Africa’s official submission for the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
Released in local cinemas in May, “Barakat” is directed by Amy Jephta and produced by Ephraim Gordon.
This selection makes Jephta the fourth female director to be submitted to the Oscars by South Africa, and the first woman of colour.
“Barakat”, Arabic word meaning blessings, is a story about celebrating life, culture and the importance of family – with whom one can overcome anything in life.
“This selection was totally unexpected, but it shows that everyone’s hard work on this project has paid off,” says Ephraim.
“This film was a blessing from the beginning and continues to be. It is our barakat.”
The film tells the story of Ayesha Davids (Vinette Ebrahim), a widow who has to preserve the peace between her four sons (played by Joey Rasdien, Mortimer Williams, Keeno-Lee Hector and Danny Ross) after they all still struggle to come to terms with the death of their father.
Zunaid, Zaid, Yaseen and Nur, who return to the family home to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr or Labarang as it’s known in Cape Town, marking the end of the month of Ramadaan, have never really dealt with their father’s death and the void he has left behind.
Each son’s unprocessed pain manifests in how they are constantly fighting with each other, making their mother extremely sad as she tries to move on with her own life. The cast also includes Quanita Adams, Bonnie Mbuli, Leslie Fong and June van Merch.
“Barakat” is told in Afrikaaps, the widely spoken Cape dialect of the Afrikaans language. The first Afrikaaps dictionary is currently in development, after being announced earlier this year.
“I am so proud that our small story about a family has reached as many people as it has,” says Amy, the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist of The Year for theatre, who also scripted South Africa’s official 2018 Golden Globes submission for Foreign Film, “Ellen: The Story of Ellen Pakkies”.
“To be recognised by South Africa in this way is incredibly special after an extremely challenging year for our film industry.”
The film, which closed Film Africa 2020, has won seven international awards, including Best International Feature at the 2021 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema and Best Narrative Feature at both the Motion Pictures International Film Festival and The Reel Sisters Of The Diaspora Festival in 2020.
“Amy and Ephraim made their debut at South Africa’s 2017 kykNET Silwerskerm Festival with their MultiChoice short film ’Soldaat (Soldier)’, for which they won Best Screenplay and Best Short,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO: general entertainment and connected video at MultiChoice Group.
“So we’re delighted to see them go from strength to strength on MultiChoice projects, from much-loved Showmax Originals to Oscar contenders.”
Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards will be announced on February 8, 2022, with the Oscars ceremony taking place on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
This originally appeared on IOL