“Brotherhood” by Montreal-based filmmaker Meryam Joobeur has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

The Arabic-language short tells the story of a Tunisian family, but also just family in general, Joobeur said, which is why she believes it resonates with so many.

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“It’s a human story. The family dynamics speak to a lot of people, the lack of communication, the struggle to communicate.” she told Global News on Monday.

BROTHERHOOD, poster, Mohamed Grayaa, 2018. © Travelling Distribution / courtesy Everett Collection
BROTHERHOOD, poster, Mohamed Grayaa, 2018. © Travelling Distribution / courtesy Everett Collection

Brotherhood has already won over 60 awards in 48 countries and has been selected in over 150 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance and TIFF, where it won Best Canadian Short.

Joobeur, who both wrote and directed the film, said it’s a love letter to Tunisia.

“In a way it was also to reconnect with my country of origin,” she said. “Reconnect with my roots.”

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The filmmaker, who is Tunisian, American and Quebecer, said her film is also about breaking certain stereotypes of the Muslim and Arab world.

“It’s even, at a minimum, about breaking stereotypes about what we look like, because the three brothers who act in the film have red hair and freckles, and the rest of the world [was] surprised to see that Tunisians could look like that,” she said.

The filmmaker hopes that breaking even that simple stereotype of appearance can get audiences to question other stereotypes.

Joobeur said she watched the Academy Award nominations come in with her family and the film’s production team. When they found out it had been nominated, “we all yelled at at the top of our voices,” she said. She said the nomination is a celebration for both Quebec and Tunisia.

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Maria Gracia Turgeon, who produced the film with Midi La Nuit (Montreal production company) in collaboration with Cinétéléfilms (Tunisian production company), said making the film was challenging due to its small budget.

“Having this team jump into the project for barely nothing and really giving their 100 per cent was really something quite amazing,” said Turgeon.

“It was a passion project. Everyone who ended up working on the film did it for the right reasons and was really connected to it.”

This is Turgeon’s second year getting an Oscar nomination, as she was a producer on the Quebec short Fauve that was nominated last year.

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