The Kurdish director Sehim Omar Khalifa.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— The Hollywood-based Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has invited the Kurdish director Sehim Omar Khalifa to serve as a member of this year’s jury panel. The jury is assigned to nominate the candidates for the 89th Academy Awards held next February.
The Academy executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs has officially invited the young Kurdish director to join their panel and offer his vote for this year’s best contributions to world cinema from Hollywood’s perspective.
Over 5000 jury members have individual voting rights in nominating the annual candidates, which will later be selected by the same panel as the winners in various categories.
The Academy struggles to embrace variation and promote multiculturalism following recent criticism of its “white-dominated” choice of nominees.
US African-American actor Will Smith boycotted the awards this year in public denunciation of what he described as “Hollywood’s failure to promote diversity.”
Khalifa’s own films Bad Hunter and Baghdad Messi have in the past been shortlisted for the Oscars Best short film category.
His movies have come to light in international film events and been screened across the world in more than 100 festivals, winning 57 awards.
Khalifa, who recently was awarded the French Marseille Award, was born in the Kurdish city of Zakho but completed his MA studies in cinema in Belgium. His most noted films are, Baghdad Messi and the Land of the Heroes, both recipients of multiple prizes.
“It is a great honor for me to join the Oscar jury as a Kurdish director,” he told Rudaw.
This is the first time a Kurd is invited as a jury member for the prestigious Oscars awards.