Next month the 72nd edition of the famous Cannes Film Festival will be held in Cannes, France. The festival runs from May 14-25th. This year’s lineup was recently announced so we’ve gone ahead and found all of the Arab films that will be featured.

© Photo : La Pointe courte / 1994 Agnès Varda and her children – Montage & design : Flore Maquin

Beginning with the feature films, there will be one Arab film In Competition. Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman returns to Cannes with his film It Must Be HeavenThis documentary features Suleiman traveling to different cities around the world and finding unexpected parallels to his homeland of Palestine. Suleiman perviously won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2002 for his film Divine Intervention.

Elia Suleiman – Photocall – 7 dias en La Habana © FIF/LF

In the Un Certain Regard two Arab films will be featured. Papicha by Algerian filmmaker Mounia Meddour. This film takes place in Algiers in 1997 when the country is in the hands of terrorist groups seeking to establish an Islamic and archaic state that particularly affects and oppresses women. Despite this, the film’s main character Nedjma, a young student passionate about fashion, decides to organize a fashion show with the other girls on her campus.

Film still from Papicha

This section will also feature the Moroccan film Adam by Maryam Touzani. This 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, heavily pregnant who leaves the countryside when the baby’s father refuses to recognize his soon-to-be-born child. When Samia seeks shelter at Alba’s home their chance encounter becomes a life changing bond.

Film still from Adam

There will also be one Arab Film featured in this year’s Special Screenings. For Sama, a film by Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts documents the story 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. 

Film still from For Sama

In the official selection of short films, there is one Arab film included in the Cinefondation. Ambience by Wisam Al Jafari is a Palestinian film about two young people trying to record music inside their camp for a competition. If they win, they’ll 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 realize that maybe they can use the camp to their advantage instead and utilize the sounds of the camp to create music. 

Film still from Ambience

We are also excited to relay that earlier this year, Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki was named as this year’s President of the Un Certain Regard Jury. Labaki has been a staple of the Cannes Film Festival since the early days of her career. In 2004 she was part of the festival’s Cinefondation Residency where she wrote and developed her first feature film Caramel.  Her next two films, Where Do We Go Now? and Capernaum both premiered at the Cannes film festival. Capernaum also won the Jury Prize last year.


What films are you excited to see out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival?