The Wanted 18, a hybrid animated documentary about 18 cows on the lam from the Israeli army during the First Intifada resistance to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, will represent Palestine in the running for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
Directed by Palestinian cartoonist Amer Shomali and Canadian Paul Cowan, the film creatively blends animation, interviews and reenactments to tell the story of the cows, which were used for “independent milk production” on a Palestinian collective farm during the boycott of Israeli products, and according to the movie were considered a “threat to the national security of the state of Israel.”
Shomali wanted to use humor to deal with the nation’s old wounds to tell a story that was different from the common media images of the time — namely, of children and young men chucking rocks at the Israeli army. This true story of a group of Palestinian middle class intellectuals in the Bethlehem town of Beit Sahour buying the cows from a friendly kibbutz owner — despite knowing nothing about dairy farming — has hilarious consequences from the roughshod beginning of the project to the need to go “underground” to hide from the Israeli armies.
Previous Palestinian films nominated in this category include Paradise Now in 2006 and Omar in 2014; both directed by Hany Abu-Assad.