As often, African filmmakers and films can be counted on the fingertips in the official selections of the Cannes Film Festival. The 75th edition, an anniversary edition, confirms the rule. Two films, announced in competition on April 14, 2022, will nevertheless evoke the continent. It is Boy from Heaven of Tarik Saleh and Tori and Lokita by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
Return to Cairo for Tarik Saleh with Boy from Heaven : after, among others, the hectic Confidential Cairo (2017), the Swedish director of Egyptian origin “continues its exploration of the modern Muslim world, in a political thriller set in a prestigious religious university in Cairo”indicated in 2020 in a communicated Arte France Cinéma, which co-produced the film.
The film follows Adam, “just the son of a fisherman (who) enters the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the epicenter of the power of Sunni Islam”. “On the first day of school, the Grand Imam at the head of the institution dies suddenly. Adam then finds himself, unwittingly, at the heart of an implacable power struggle between the country’s religious and political elites”, specify the movie synopsis for which Saleh finds the Lebanese-Swedish comedian Fares Fares.
“I want to open a Pandora’s box and take the public with me, explains Tarik Saleh. Showing a world itself embedded in a larger universe that no camera has yet filmed. Strictly speaking, it’s not a film about Islam, but about ideology and the war of ideas. A more political than religious statement.
In presenting the feature film in the running for the Palme d’Or, the general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival Thierry Frémeaux described a work that reflects “(the) theological debates” that run through Egyptian society today. Boy from Heavena co-production between France, Sweden, Morocco and Finland, was shot between Sweden and Morocco.
1st photo of BOY FROM HEAVEN, the new film by Tarik SALEH (CAIRO CONFIDENTIAL) in #Competition to @Festival_Cannes #Cannes2022
(re)see CAIRO CONFIDENTIAL ️ #VOD https://t.co/Owribj1DLc pic.twitter.com/t3lp5igaw0
— Memento Distribution (@mementodistrib) April 14, 2022
Among the 18 feature films in competition for the time being, there are four filmmakers who have already won the Palme d’Or, including the Dardenne brothers. Belgian filmmakers, great regulars on the Croisette, will present this year Tori and Lokita, the story of“a young boy and (of)a teenager who came alone from Africa (who) oppose their invincible friendship to the difficult conditions of their exile” in Belgium. Pablo Schils, Joely Mbundu, Alban Ukaj, Tijmen Govaerts, Charlotte De Bruyne, Nadège Ouedraogo and Marc Zinga are on the poster for the last Dardenne.
Outside the competition but still in the official selection, we find in the Cannes Première section the Franco-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb whose feature film Our brothers looks back on the Malik Oussekine case, a 22-year-old student beaten to death by police on the night of December 5 to 6, 1986.
Idris Elba, who has dual British and Sierra Leonean nationality, will also be on the Croisette alongside his compatriot Tilda Swinton, his partner in Three thousand years waiting for you (Three Thousand Years of Longing) by Australian filmmaker George Miller (madmax).
The various parallel sections (La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs and Critics’ Week in particular) will unveil their selection in the coming days. The opportunity may be to discover new nuggets from the continent.
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Cannes Film Festival 2022: a politico-religious thriller in Egypt and a portrait of African exiles in Belgium in the running for the Palme d’Or