ROJEK: Canada’s Oscar® Hope for Best International Feature Film

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The documentary, Rojek, is representing Canada in the nomination process for the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards®, set to take place on March 10, 2024.

In one of the most competitive years for Canadian cinema (with 28 films submitted for consideration), Rojek was selected by the pan-Canadian Selection Committee, a jury of industry peers, as the film to represent Canada in the Oscar® race. 

Rojek delves deep into the world of incarcerated members of the Islamic State who share a common dream: establishing a caliphate. Through interviews and personal stories, the film confronts their fundamentalist beliefs and seeks to trace the beginning, rise, and fall of the Islamic State (ISIS). These conversations form the backbone of the documentary, interwoven with scenes depicting post-war Syrian Kurdistan. 

The documentary offers an intimate glimpse into an unfamiliar reality, bearing witness to pivotal moments in the lives of those caught in this conflict. 

Directed and written by Zaynê Akyol, Rojek was brought to life at Metafilms, with production credits shared by Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil, and the director herself.  

Julie Roy, Executive Director and CEO of Telefilm Canada, shared her excitement, saying, “[t]his announcement marks the beginning of an incredible journey and a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Rojek to reach audiences around the world and give them just a taste of the quality of filmmaking that Canada has to offer.” 

For director, writer, and producer Zaynê Akyol, being chosen to represent Canada at the Oscars® with Rojek is a “tremendous honor,” saying that “[t]his moment is the fruit of our shared passion and unwavering commitment to cinema and justice.”  

For director, writer, and producer Zaynê Akyol, being chosen to represent Canada at the Oscars® with Rojek is a “tremendous honor,” saying that “[t]his moment is the fruit of our shared passion and unwavering commitment to cinema and justice.”  

Rojek is a documentary that transcends language barriers, weaving a narrative tapestry in Arabic, English, French, and Kurdish. The film made its debut at the 2022 Visions du Réel Film Festival in Nyon, Switzerland. Notably, Rojek clinched the DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary at the 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. 

In the history of the Oscars®, eight Canadian films have been official nominees in the Best International Feature Film category. Notable mentions include Rebelle in 2013, Monsieur Lazhar and In Darkness (a minority coproduction with Poland and Germany) in 2012, Incendies in 2011, and Water in 2007. Denys Arcand’s works, such as Le Déclin de l’empire américain, Jésus de Montréal, and Les Invasions barbares, have also left their mark, with the latter winning the coveted Oscar®. 

As the countdown to the 96th Academy Awards® begins, Canada’s spotlight shines on Rojek. Stay tuned for updates on this extraordinary journey.

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