Deemed the highest prize awarded to a short film at the Cannes Film Festival, the Short Film Palme d’Or has played a crucial part in recognizing culture-shifting films since 1952. Judged by an official jury under the Cinéfondation, the prestigious award has previously recognized work by directors such as Serge Avedikian, João Salaviza and most recently, Vasilis Kekatos. This year, Egyptian director Sameh Alaa finds himself amid a lineup of ten other directors, whose films were selected out of the 3,810 submissions received by the committee.
Titled I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face, the 15-minute film stars Seif Eldin Hemida and Nourhan Ali Abdelazez, and is created by Giorgos Valsamis; cinematographer, Yasser Azmy; editor and Moataz AlQammari; sound designer. Telling the story of a man who travels down a long and lonely road, looking for reunion and redemption, it is the only Arab film to feature in the Short Film category. Competing against works by Marie Jacotey, Sophie Littman, Theo Montaya and others, Alaa’s I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face, will premier at the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival this fall.
Based in Cairo and Brussels, Sameh Alaa is an Egyptian filmmaker with a background in German Literature and Filmmaking. Following his graduation from the Academy of Cinema Arts and Technology in Egypt, Alaa moved to Prague and studied directing at FAMU, before going on to study at the EICAR Film School in Paris. In 2017, he won NISI MASA‘s European Short Film Pitch and went on to direct Fifteen, a film entirely self-produced and funded by Alaa and a family friend. Fifteen was the first Egyptian film to make it to the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival Short Cuts Program. Other notable work by Alaa includes The Bread, Shadow, Yun Yun and Le Steak de Tante Margaux.