The Mauritanian, a film adaptation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s best-selling memoir, Guantanámo Diary (2015), is set for theatrical release in the United States on February 19, qualifying it for this year’s Oscar race.

Slahi wrote Guantanámo Diary during his 14-year detainment at Guantanámo Bay where he was held without charge on suspicion of terrorist activity. From 2002 to 2016, Slahi endured inhumane conditions, physical and psychological torture, and racial and religious discrimination all while learning to speak and write in English.

Slahi’s 466-page handwritten manuscript was released by his lawyers to editor Larry Siems, director of the PEN Freedom to Write Program, and published in 2015 by Little Brown and Company. It was optioned for film the same year.

Produced by BBC Films, The Mauritanian is directed by Kevin Macdonald and features performances by Jodi Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley, and Tahar Rahim as Slahi.

The film has already received three nominations for the 2021 London Critics’ Circle Film Awards including Film of the Year, Director of the Year, and Actor of the Year.

Early reviews note a career-defining performance by French-Algerian actor, Tahar Rahim, who has been submitted for nomination for the Academy Award category of Best Actor. According to Variety, “if he were to manage a nomination, his inclusion would be historic as the first Muslim to be nominated in any lead category.”

Cumberbatch and Woodley will also be submitted for supporting categories.

BTW, Slahi has a new book coming out this year with Ohio University Press! Check it out here.

Here’s the trailer forThe Mauritanian: