The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has selected the multi-award-winning film Barakat as South Africa’s official submission for Best International Feature at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022. This makes director Amy Jephta the fourth female director to be submitted to the Oscars by South Africa, and the first woman of colour.
Barakat follows Muslim widow Aisha Davids as she tries to bring together her fractured family over Eid-al-Fitr to break the news about her new romance.
South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) nominee Vinette Ebrahim (Skemerdans) stars as the ageing matriarch, while her four sons, still struggling to come to terms with the death of their father two years earlier, are played by Joey Rasdien (Material), Mortimer Williams (Erfsondes), Keeno-Lee Hector (The Riviera) and Danny Ross (Number 37).
The cast also includes SAFTA winners Quanita Adams (Forgiveness) and June van Merch (Sara se Geheim) as well as SAFTA nominees Bonnie Mbuli (Noughts & Crosses, Catch a Fire) and Leslie Fong (Isidingo).
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.
Incredible news after a challenging year for film
‘I am so proud that our small story about a family has reached as many people as it has,’ says Jephta, 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.’
Jephta wrote Barakat with producer Ephraim Gordon, who co-founded the production companies PaperJet Films and Nagvlug Films with her. The pair also co-directed the critically acclaimed Showmax Original Cape Flats neo-noir murder mystery Skemerdans.
‘This selection was totally unexpected, but it shows that everyone’s hard work on this project has paid off,’ says Gordon. ‘This film was a blessing from the beginning and continues to be. It is our Barakat.’
Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards will be announced on 8 February 2022, with the Oscars ceremony taking place on Sunday 27 March 2022. South Africa won the Foreign Language Film category in 2005 for Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, after being nominated in 2004 for Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday. Oliver Schmitz’s Life, Above All was shortlisted in 2010, as was John Trengrove’s The Wound in 2017.
Stream Barakat here now or watch on kykNET on 18 December 2021 at 20:00.