Five incredible stories

The Cannes Film Festival is set to return tomorrow for its 72nd edition. The prestigious event will take place from May 14 to 25, which will include a number of highly anticipated film premieres from Hollywood, Europe and the world.

This year we can expect quite a turn-out, as some of the movies that will have their debut screening at the festival include Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie. The 11-day event will also include fiver films from the region, but only one will be competing for the Palme d’Or, which is the the main feature competition.

The five films by Arab filmmakers going to the French Riviera are:

 It Must Be Heaven

Arab films Cannes Film Festival 2019


This documentary is directed by Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, who perviously won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2002 for his film Divine Intervention. This feature film will be competing in the Palme d’Or category, and follows Elia as he travels to different cities around the world and finding unexpected parallels to his homeland of Palestine. The film asks an important question, which is, where is the place we can truly call home?


Arab films Cannes Film Festival 2019

This is one of the two Arab films competing in the Un Certain Regard category. It was directed by Algerian filmmaker Mounia Meddour, and takes place in 1997 Algiers, back when the he country is in the hands of terrorist groups seeking to establish an Islamic and archaic state that particularly affects and oppresses women. Despite these hardships, the film’s protagonist Nedjma, who is a young student passionate about fashion, decides to organise a fashion show with the other girls on her campus.


Arab films Cannes Film Festival 2019

The other regional film in the same category is a Moroccan film by Maryam Touzani. This feature film tells the story of two women, Abla and Samia. Abla is a widow and mother to a 10 year old daughter who is struggling to survive. She bakes bread and traditional pastries and sells them everyday in Casablanca. Samia is a young woman, who is heavily pregnant and ends up leaving the countryside when the baby’s father refuses to recognise his soon-to-be-born child. When Samia seeks shelter at Alba’s home their chance encounter becomes a life changing bond.

For Sama

Arab films Cannes Film Festival 2019

This film by Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts is featured in the Special Screenings category. It tells the story of the of a young woman’s struggles with love, war and motherhood over the course of five years in Syria. It’s been called “a love letter from a young mother to her daughter”. It bring a voice to the unique experiences of  being a woman during wartime.


Arab films Cannes Film Festival 2019

This short film is the only one by an Arab filmmaker to be included in the Cinefondation. This Palestinian film is by Wisam Al Jafari, and is about two young people trying to record music inside their camp for a competition. If they win, they will have the opportunity produce a full album. At first, the chaos and problems of life in the camp prohibit them from making the music they want but they realise that maybe they can use the camp to their advantage instead and utilise the sounds of the camp to create music.

It is worth noting that last year’s Jury Prize winner, Lebanese director Nadine Labaki will part of the festival. She was appointed as the president of the jury for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, the first Arab to ever head the committee. Nadine’s film Capernaum premiered at the festival last year, and went on to be nominated for several prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, which she lost to Netflix’s Roma.

Good luck to them all!

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