Arab cinema to screen at Cannes Film Festival

DFM Goes to Cannes leaps for Cannes 70th edition with special slate of Arab films
A still from Leïla Kilani's Joint Possession
A still from Leïla Kilani's Joint Possession

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A special showcase of Arab cinema will screen at the Cannes Film Festival’s 70th edition as part of the returning Dubai Film Market (DFM) Goes to Cannes programme. A line-up of five works-in-progress titles from the region, will give a first-look screening to distributors, festival programmers and sales agents during the Cannes film festival held from 17 to 28 May 2017.

Now in its third year, the DFM Goes to Cannes, is a programme in partnership with the Marché du Film and is part of the DFM’s mandate to facilitate the distribution of Arab films.  With a two-pronged purpose, the event gives Arab talent an essential platform to connect and thrive on a world stage, whilst presenting international audiences with thought-provoking stories.

Participating filmmakers will deliver a brief introduction of their project before each clip is screened. The five line-up set to present at Cannes includes Joint Possession, Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf, Poisonous Roses, Until the End of Time, and Wajib.

Joint Possession is produced by Emmanuel Barrault and directed by Leïla Kilani. Moroccan director, Leïla Kilani has already produced five documentaries and a feature length film, On the Edge in 2011. Joint Possession is set in the Moroccan hills of Tangier that are shrouded in turmoil caused by endless new real estate projects which have forced the emergence of clandestine shelters, named the clandos. Splendid in its heyday, but now riddled with decay, Mansouria is home to a family who face a heart wrenching decision on whether to sell or not to sell the estate worth millions.

Directed by Susan Youssef and produced by Man Kit Lam, Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf is also Cannes bound. With her father imprisoned on dubious terrorist related charges, a Lebanese-American teenager in Arkansas searches for identity in the headscarf and a motorcycle. Susan Youssef's shorts have played at festivals all around the world including the Sundance Film Festival, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and the Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2011, Habibi, Susan Youssef’s first feature-length fiction, won Best Film as well as the FIPRESCI prize at DIFF and also premiered at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

Poisonous Roses, directed by Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, is set in a savage industrial society, where men and women have no value except in owning things. The poor, without the ability to own objects, can still own each other. The film explores the corrosive desire of ownership in a world breeding miserable egotism through a brother sister duo, Taheya and Saqr. Taheya has nothing left in the world except her brother and when he decides to leave her, she will do anything to keep him by her side.  Ahmed Fawzi Saleh is an Egyptian screenwriter, filmmaker and human rights activist.

Directed by Algerian born Yasmine Chouikh, produced by Karima Chouikh and supported by Enjaaz, Until the End of Time takes place in Sidi Boulekbour. Families wait for the Ziara, an auspicious time of the year to visit deceased loved ones. For Ali, the 70-year-old gravedigger, this Ziara was not supposed to be different from any other that is until Joher, in her sixties, arrives to visit her sister’s grave. Yasmine Chouikh has directed two short films as well as a TV series.

Wajib, the tale of an estranged father and son takes place entirely in one day, and is directed by Palestinan Annemarie Jacir and produced by Ossama Bawardi. Rome-based Shadi visits his father, Abu Shadi, in Nazareth, where together they will hand deliver invitations for Abu Shadi’s daughter’s wedding, as per their “duty” in Palestinian custom. Writer, director and producer Annemarie Jacir’s films have premiered in the official selections at Cannes, Venice and most recently at the Berlinale. Her short Like Twenty Impossibles (2003) was the first Arab short film in history to be selected for Cannes and continued to break ground when it became a national finalist for the Academy Awards.

In addition a further six films presented at DIFF’s 13th edition and supported by the DFM’s Enjaaz production funding for Gulf short films are also set to impress at Cannes. Taking part in the Cannes Short Film Corner, the exclusive line-up comprises of: Fadhilat An Takona La Ahad (The Bliss Of Being No One) directed by Bader Alhomoud (winner of Best Muhr Gulf Short), Laila Fe Taxi (A Night In A Taxi) directed Aisha Alzaabi, Mahal Bu Teir directed by Sager L'Khrebani Al Nuaimi, Mamsous directed by Shatha Masoud (winner of Best Muhr Emirati Short) and Robian (Shrimp) directed by Yaser Alneyadi (winner of Muhr Emirati Director).

Place in your Shell by Elena Kovalenko, winner of the Samsung SHRT Flm Cntst at DIFF last year will also join the exciting lineup. Now in its fourth year, the Samsung SHRT Flm Cntst champions budding creative minds across the Emirates, under the guidance of esteemed Emirati director, Majid Al Ansari.

Shivani Pandya, DIFF’s managing director, said: “The collaboration between the DFM and the Marché du Film is really an incredible tool for Arab filmmakers to pitch future projects and forge international connections, tapping into the host of sales agents, festival programmers and distributors in attendance. It’s undoubtedly a very exciting time for Arab cinema and we are proud to be headed to Cannes with some of the most up-and-coming filmmakers from the Arab world.”

The 14th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival will be held December 6-13, 2017.

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