Flemish short film Baghdad Messi shortlisted for the Oscars

Baghdad Messi tells the story of young Hamoudi, a fan of football (and especially Lionel Messi), just like the other children in his village.On the eve of the Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United, the family television conks out. Hamoudi therefore convinces his father to take him to get it fixed in Baghdad. 

The short film has already travelled the world over, having been selected for more than 150 festivals, and been awarded 46 prizes and special mentions. Land of the Heroes, Sahim Omar Kalifa’s previous film, produced thanks to a VAF Wildcard (Flanders Audiovisual Fund), was also shown at a number of festivals. His latest film, Bad Hunter, has since embarked upon an impressive international career. 

The script for Baghdad Messi was written by Sahim Omar Kalifa and Kobe Van Steenberghe.

Steenberghe produced the film with Hendrik Verthé for A Team Productions (Image, The Circle). The title was also supported by the VAF.

Over the next few weeks, the members of the Academy in charge of the Live-action Short Film section will select just three to five nominees. The definitive list will be released on 15 January, and if the Belgian short makes the cut, audiences will have to wait until 22 February to find out whether or not Sahim Omar Kalifa will walk away with the Oscar. 

The film will perhaps follow in the footsteps of Na Wewe by Ivan Goldschmidt and Dood van een Schaduw by Tom Van Avermaet, other Flemish short films that have previously reached the final selection stage for the Oscars, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. It’s worth noting that last year, it was the Luxembourgish short film Mr Hublot that brought home the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, based on the character created by Belgian artist Stéphane Halleux. Belgium is therefore maintaining its presence at the Oscars, most notably after the participation of Ernest and Célestine, Bullhead and The Broken Circle Breakdown

Baghdad Messi will perhaps come across another Belgian competitor at the Dolby Theatre: Two Days, One Night by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. The public will have to wait a few more weeks before finding out whether the feature film will be one of the nine shortlisted nominees for the Academy Award for Best Foreign-language Film.

24 November 2014, by Aurore Engelen