Birzeit University Graduate Competes for Best Film at Toronto Film Festival

The film "Wanted 18," directed by Birzeit University graduate and Amer Shomali, is competing at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which traces the fortunes of 18 cows in a Bethlehem-area village, was screened for the first time on September 6, 2014.

Using stop-motion animation, drawings and interviews, the film relates how 18 cows in Beit Sahour became an inspiration and symbol of resistance during the first Palestinian Intifada. As the Israeli army searches for the illegal bovines, the story veers from comedy to drama to tragedy — with a large dose of the absurd.

Amer Shomali and the Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan worked on this film for five years. Cowan has won many awards, including an Oscar for his film “Flamenco."

"During the five years of work,” Shomali says, “we faced a lot of difficulties in terms of research, and access to archives, as the Israeli occupation government refused to allow us to access the related documents. [There was also] a financial problem, as the film’s costs amounted to approximately $1.2 million.”

The film will also be screened at the Abu Dhabi and Carthage film festivals.

Amer Shomali graduated from Birzeit University in 2003, majoring in architectural engineering, and earning his Master’s degree in fine arts from Britain. In many of his artworks, he uses animation, cartoons and posters to interact with daily social and political Palestinian surroundings.

Shomali is the author of the book, "Comics," and several children's stories. He is also the founder of the animation diploma program at Birzeit University, and one of the creators of Zan Studio in Ramallah.

A preview of the film can be viewed at