#FIRSTLOOK: “ROJEK” TO REPRESENT CANADA FOR INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
ROJEK is representing Canada in the nomination process for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards®, to be held on March 10, 2024. The film is directed and written by Zaynê Akyol, and produced by Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil, and Zaynê Akyol of Métafilms. It is being distributed in Canada by Maison 4:3 and in the United States by Icarus Films. International sales are handled by Andana Films.
“In what may have been Canada’s most competitive year ever, ROJEK was selected by a jury of industry peers as the film to best represent Canada in the Oscar® race,” said Julie Roy, Executive Director and CEO, of Telefilm Canada. “This 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. We wish Zaynê, Metafilms, and the entire creative team all the best of luck as they move forward.”
“Being chosen to represent Canada at the Oscars® with ROJEK is a tremendous honour,” said Zaynê Akyol, director, writer, and producer. “I would like to express my deep gratitude to the pan-Canadian selection committee for this recognition. Also, a sincere thank you to my dedicated team, who continually pushed the boundaries of creativity and excellence. This moment is the fruit of our shared passion and unwavering commitment to cinema and justice.”
The documentary is told in a mix of Arabic, English, French, and Kurdish. It opened in Canadian theatres on January 20, 2023, and is available for rental on all major platforms.
ROJEK premiered at the 2022 Visions du Réel Film Festival in Nyon, Switzerland. It has screened at festivals around the world, including winning the DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary at the 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival.
As the appointed non-voting chair of the committee, Telefilm Canada organizes the annual pan-Canadian Selection Committee for Canada’s submission to the Best International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards®.
The vote was determined by a pan-Canadian committee of industry organizations and guilds, as well as filmmakers and industry professionals appointed to represent organizations. Overall, 28 films were submitted for consideration as Canada’s Choice this year. The committee met the morning of August 24 to select the film.
So far, seven countries have submitted their entries for the Best International Feature Film category. Last year, 93 countries submitted a film.
October 2, 2023 – Deadline for country submissions for the Best International Feature Film category
December 21, 2023 – Academy shortlist of 15 titles selected to move forward.
January 23, 2024 – Academy Award® nominations announced
March 10, 2024 – Academy Awards® ceremony
ROJEK encounters incarcerated members of the Islamic State from all over the world, as well as their wives detained in prison-camps, who are sharing a common dream: establishing a caliphate. Confronted with the fundamentalist beliefs of the jihadists, the film attempts to trace the beginning, the rise and fall of the Islamic State (ISIS) through their personal stories. These conversations are the thread along which the documentary evolves, as it is intertwined with various sequences depicting current, post-war Syrian Kurdistan.
ROJEK offers an intimate gaze at an unknown reality, testifying of pivotal moments experienced by the actors of this conflict. The film tackles how this ideological war is only the beginning of a new kind of threat.