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Here are All the Arab Films at This Year’s Cannes Festival We Will be Rooting For

The Cannes Film Festival will be making its return for its 72nd edition. The global film industry’s finest will arrive at the French Riviera for the festival’s 11 days of glitz and glamour and to watch film premieres from Hollywood, Europe and all around the world. Among the biggest movies set to have their debut screening is Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which stars Hollywood actors Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie. At this year’s festival, five films by Arab filmmakers will be representing the region. Here are all the regional films we will be rooting for:

It Must Be Heaven

Courtesy Rectangle Productions

Directed by Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, It Must Be Heaven is the only film by an Arab filmmaker in competition for the Palme d’Or, the main feature competition. Suleiman has previously won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2002 for his film Divine Intervention, and this year, he will also be starring in the movie alongside Arab-Israeli actor Ali Suliman.


Courtesy Ali n’ Productions

The Moroccan film by Maryam Touzani is one of the two Arab films competing in the Un Certain Regard category. It tells the story of two women, a widow, and mother Abla, and Samia who takes shelter in Abla’s home since she is forced to leave the countryside after her baby’s father turns his back on them.


Courtesy High Sea Production, The Ink Connection

The second Arab film running competing in the Un Certain Regard category is Algerian director, Mounia Meddour’s Papicha. Set in Algiers in 1997, the film is based around the protagonist Nedjma, a young university student with a passion for style, who decides to organize a fashion show amid the city’s political chaos.


Courtesy of Saed Andoni/Dar al-Kalima University College.

It is the only short film by an Arab filmmaker to be officially included in the Cinefondation lineup. Created by Wisam Al Jafari, the Palestinian film is about two ambitious young men who are trying to record music in a refugee camp so that they can enter a competition. If they win, they will have the opportunity to produce a full album.

For Sama

Courtesy of Channel 4 News/ITN Productions

Featuring in this year’s Special Screenings category, the film by Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts is based on the true story of Al Kateab’s struggles with love, war, and motherhood during the war in Aleppo over the course of five years. The film which has won both the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award for Best Documentary at the SXSW Festival is being called “a love letter from a young mother to her daughter”.

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