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Could a Film Featuring Devout Jews, Nuns and the Virgin Mary Win an Oscar?

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 02/03/16

A little-known short film is nominated for an Academy Award, and it’s garnering attention not only for its subject, but also its message:

Filmmaker Basil Khalil has come up with an astute resolution to the Mideast conflict, based on the proposition that Israeli Jews and Palestinians will cooperate if that’s the only way they can get away from each other. Khalil, born in Nazareth of a Palestinian father and a British mother, illustrates this dictum in his 15-minute movie “Ave Maria” (Hail Mary), which is among the five finalists for Oscar honors in the live-action short film category. The opening scene has an Orthodox family driving toward their West Bank settlement, with the burly, bearded Moshe accompanied by his wife, Rachel, and sharp-tongued mother, Esther. They are in a hurry due to delays that Moshe blames on his mother’s incontinence, and Shabbat is about start in just a few minutes. Distracted, Moshe sideswipes a statue of the Virgin Mary in front of a small convent, knocking her off her pedestal. Living inside the convent are five Carmelite nuns of the Sisters of Mercy who have taken a vow of silence. A noviate nun is sent outside to investigate the crash. She returns, gesticulating wildly, and in her agitation she breaks her vow of silence to exclaim, “The Jews have violated the Virgin.” In the meanwhile, it’s Friday evening, and while the nuns own an ancient rotary phone to call for outside assistance, no one can use it: Moshe can not break Shabbat rules by dialing out, and the nuns, of course, cannot speak to anyone. As the nuns try to figure out how to get rid of their unwanted guests and the Jewish family is desperate to leave and get home, antipathy becomes the mother of invention.

Read on.

And check out the movie’s trailer, below.

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