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Ave Maria - Oscars 2016

Tuesday 1 March 2016, by Ryan Ormonde

A short film directed by a Palestinian has been nominated for an Oscar this year. Ave Maria is a humorous story about a Jewish family who crash their car outside a small convent of five Arab nuns. For a film set in the present day West Bank, this film is as light as you could imagine, yet it still has a relevant message about the unnecessary restrictions imposed by strict adherence to religion. God-given rules prevent human communication – hilarity ensues.

Director and co-writer Basil Khalil tells the tale with precision and without fuss. The humour has a universal feel – it’s not hard to see why the American Academy took notice.

There is a thesis to be written on the history of nuns in cinema, particularly their usefulness in diffusing otherwise tricky subject matter. I’m thinking more Sister Act that The Magdalene Sisters of course. At any rate, the funny nuns in Ave Maria merrily continue a certain tradition. The Jewish mother figure is hardly a novel prospect either, but these tropes help to give Ave Maria the right kind of comic tension, ensuring its simple truth is not obscured by the unfamiliar, particularly for an international audience.

Dir: Basil Khalil, 2015

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