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Arab Cinema's Strong Presence at the Festival De Cannes 2023

Festival De Cannes' Official Selection reveals an exceptional number of Arabx-created films in this year's festival. From seasoned filmmakers to incredible talent, here are the Arabx films that made the cut and the ones that made history!



Festival De Cannes springs into action with its release of this year's official selection of films competing for the most prestigious awards in global cinema.


Main Competition: Les Filles D'Olfa (Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania - Tunisia

Les Filles D'Olfa by Kaouther Ben hania. Image courtesy of Kaouther Ben Hania's Instagram Profile.
Les Filles D'Olfa by Kaouther Ben hania. Image courtesy of Kaouther Ben Hania's Instagram Profile.

Starting strong with Les Filles D'Olfa (Four Daughters) by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania running in the festival's main competition. Ben Hania has proven herself integral to the global and Arab cinema after her movie "The Man Who Sold His Skin" scored a nomination to the Academy Awards' Best International Film in 2021.


Les Filles D'Olfa is a documentary that contains one of the most exciting collabs between Tunisian badass women with actor #HendSabry being in the forefront of the story as well as a producer. The film is competing for the world's most prestigious awards and Cannes' most esteemed La Palme d'Or (The Golden Palm).


This is not only an exciting woman-led story, Les Filles D'Olfa marks a historic milestone for Tunisian cinema for it presence at this powerful level of the competition.


Un Certain Regard

The festival's category entitled Un Certain Regard (A Certain Glance) has four Arabx films running for the Prix Un Certain Regard (the Certain Glance Award) as well as other awards like Mention Spéciale (Special Mention), Prix Le Premier Regard (The First Glance Prize), Prix du Jury (The Jury Prize), Prix du Regard Original (The Original Glance Prize), Prix du Regard Vers L'Avenir (Looking Ahead Prize), and others.


In 2022, Palestinian director Maha Haj's film called Mediterranean Fever won Best Screenplay while Tunisian director Adam Bessa's film, Harka snagged one of the Best Performance awards.


Here are the Arabx movies in Un Certain Regard:


Un Certain Regard: Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani - Sudan

Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani. Image courtesy of Amjad Abu Alala's Instagram profile.
Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani. Image courtesy of Amjad Abu Alala's Instagram profile.

Sudan has been coming at us with incredible cinema lately. As a country that's finally getting its voice back cinematically, Sudan has been blowing our minds with narratives that captivate and cinematography that mesmerizes!


This is exactly what we expect from this year's Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani.


Goodbye Julia tells the story of Mona (played by Eiman Yousif), a retired singer from northern Sudan, who is plagued with guilt for concealing a murder. To make things right, she opens her home to the southern Sudanese widow, Julia (played by Siran Riak), and her son. Despite her good intentions, Mona cannot bring herself to confess to Julia and instead tries to move on from the past. However, unforeseen events in the country could soon disrupt her newfound peace and force her to confront the consequences of her actions.


It's worth noting that Goodbye Julia is produced by Amjad Abu Alala who graced us with his movie You Will Die at Twenty in 2019. The film premiered at Venice Days that year at the Venice International Film Festival and won the Lion of the Future Award for Best First Feature film.


Goodbye Julia is Sudan's first film to compete in Un Certain Regard, making this a historic win for Sudanese cinema.

Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani. Image courtesy of Mad Distributions.
Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani. Image courtesy of Mad Distributions.

Un Certain Regard: Kadib Abyad (The Mother of All Lies) by Asmae El Moudir - Morocco

Kadib Abyad by Asmae El Moudir. Image courtesy of the Doha Film Institute.
Kadib Abyad by Asmae El Moudir. Image courtesy of the Doha Film Institute.

Asmae El Moudir is a Moroccan documentary maker. She's a writer and director who has made films for Al Jazeera and many other since 2010.


In this documentary, Asmae is a 28-year-old filmmaker who only has one damaged photograph of herself from her childhood. She knows it's not her, but this incident inspires her to investigate and reveal the secrets and lies of her Casablanca family. Through the memories of her mother, father and grandmother, Asmae creates a portrait of both her family and the larger Moroccan society.


Un Certain Regard: Simple Comme Sylvain by Monia Chokri - Canada/Algeria


Our pride and Joy Monia Chokri is a Quebecor who has represented Canada and, by virtue of her Algerian origins, Algeria in Cannes before! Her feature debut titled La Femme de Mon Frère (A Brother's Love) premiered in Cannes in 2019.


This year, Monia's romantic comedy, Simple Comme Sylvain, positions Sophia's life front and centre when it goes upside down after she meets Sylvain. As someone who comes from a wealthy family, Sophia questions herself, knowing Sylvain's background from a working family, and surrenders to romance.

A scene from Simple Comme Sylvain by Monia Chokri. Image courtesy of Immina Films
A scene from Simple Comme Sylvain by Monia Chokri. Image courtesy of Immina Films

Un Certain Regard: Les Meutes by Kamal Lazraq - Morocco

Les Meutes by Kamal Lazraq. Image courtesy of Unifrance.
Les Meutes by Kamal Lazraq. Image courtesy of Unifrance.

Kamal Lazraq is a Moroccan filmmaker who has previously won the Cinéfondation’s second prize in 2011 for his short film Drari.


His feature film, Les Meutes explores the Casablanca father-son relationship. Hassan and Issam try to make a living via petty crime or doing jobs for a mob, until one night, they are tasked with kidnapping a man.






Midnight Screenings: Omar La Fraise by Elias Belkeddar - France/Algeria


Omar La Fraise was a Next Step Projet at the Semaine De La Critique in Cannes in 2018. La Semaine De La Critique is a parallel section of the Cannes Film Festival and its Next Step projects are awarded to films initially created as short films that are then supported into being developed into full length feature films.


Elias Belkeddar's film tells the story of Omar La Fraise, an older criminal who fled France for Algiers and now lives off small scams with his partner Krimo. However, after being sentenced to 20 years in jail by French courts, Omar must reform his ways to avoid imprisonment. He struggles to adjust to a life without crime and finds a job at a pastry factory, but he craves the thrill of his past. He becomes involved with a violent gang but also meets Samia, who teaches him that love and violence cannot coexist. After the death of his friend Krimo, Omar realizes he needs to change and, with Samia's help, finally breaks free from his past.


Omar La Fraise by Elias Belkeddar. Image courtesy of Doha Film Institute.
Omar La Fraise by Elias Belkeddar. Image courtesy of Doha Film Institute.

Festival De Cannes is set to run from May 16 to May 27, 2023.

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