The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is on, and as always, it will witness a distinguished selection of movies. However, this year the number of Arab films is outstanding and underscores the level of talent the region has to offer.
Take, Under the Fig Trees, by Tunisian director Areej Sehiri. The movie had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2022 and is set on the backdrop of trees, with young male and female workers, who experience certain feelings for the first time.
Then, there is Mediterranean Fever, which was written and directed by Palestinian filmmaker Maha Haj. The story is based around a Palestinian author who is afflicted with depression. Starring Amer Hlehel, Anat Hadid, Samir Elias, Cynthia Selim, Soraya Younes, Nihaya Bishara and Youssef Abu Warda, the film is a testament to the quality of films emerging from the region.
Boy from Heaven, meanwhile, is also selected and has been directed by Tarek Salah, a Swedish-Egyptian director. The movie is based around the first day following the demise of the Grand Imam, who passes away in front of his students at a university in Egypt. This follows a conflict between the students to assume his position.
Finally, from Lebanon, The Dam by director Ali Cherr,i is based on real-life events surrounding workers in brick factories in Sudan. The movie was filmed in Sudan and challenges the viewers’ imagination making them delve deeper and reflect upon the oppression and injustice in the setting.
What’s remarkable is that despite the events in Lebanon, Lebanese artists are still making their mark internationally when it comes to filmmaking. Following a long career in contemporary art, a win at the Venice Biennale 2022, Ali’s first feature film The Dam, premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes Film Festival.
Furthermore, representing the region’s presence was a pavilion dedicated to Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival, bringing the Middle East’s filmmaking prowess to the wider world.