Film festival season is in full swing: explore the new Arab films playing at Cannes 2022! For the past month the Cannes Film Festival has been unveiling their official lineup of films, here are the upcoming films from the Arab world.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022: Features

The Cannes Film Festival will take place in Cannes, France, from May 17th to the 28th. Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisian director of The Man Who Sold His Skin) will be presiding over the jury for Critic’s Week. One exciting Arab film will be competing for the Palme D’or, with a handful of other features playing in other categories. Most of the films premiering are by North African filmmakers, and three features are directed by women. So let’s dive in!


Film still from Boy From Heaven

Boy From Heaven by Tarik Saleh
Egypt – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – In Competition

On the first day back after the summer holidays, the grand imam collapses and dies in front of his students in a prestigious university in Cairo. This marks the start of a ruthless battle for influence to take his place.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Film still from Harka

Harka by Lotfy Nathan
Tunisia – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – Un Certain Regard

Ali is barely making a living selling contraband gas. The young Tunisian all of a sudden finds himself in charge of his two sisters after his dad’s death.


Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Film still from Le Bleu du Caftan

Le Bleu du Caftan by Maryam Touzani
Morocco – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – Un Certain Regard

It features Halim and Mina, a couple who run a Caftan shop in the medina of Salé, joined by Youssef, a young apprentice who shares with his Maalem, Halim, the same sincere passion for sewing. This film is about transmission, tradition and love, in the broadest sense of the term.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Film still from Mediterranean Fever

Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj
Palestine – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – Un Certain Regard

Waleed dreams of a writing career while suffering from depression. He develops a relationship with his neighbor – a small-time crook. While the scheme turns into an unexpected friendship, it leads them into a journey of dark encounters.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, directors of Rebel

Rebel by Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
France – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – Midnight Screening

An immensely powerful and nuanced portrayal of a family torn apart over a little Muslim boy’s future.

Cast of Nos Frangins

Nos Frangins by Rachid Bouchareb
France/Algeria – Narrative Feature – The Official Selection – Cannes Premiere

Based on the story of 22-year-old Malik Oussekinean, whose death is believed to have been caused by an affair of police violence after several weeks of student protests against a university reform bill.

Film still from The Dam

The Dam by Ali Cherri
Sudan – Documentary Feature – Parallel Selections – Director’s Fortnight

Every evening, a worker in a traditional brickyard by the Nile secretly builds a mysterious mud construction. ‘The Dam’ is a political fable about the power of imagination set against the backdrop of the Sudanese revolution.


Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Film still from ASHKAL

ASHKAL by Youssef Chebbi
Tunisia – Narrative Feature – Parallel Selections – Director’s Fortnight

In the gardens of Carthage, a new district where modern buildings are juxtaposed with abandoned sites and wastelands, the body of a caretaker is found in the middle of a construction site. Batal and Fatma are in charge of the investigation and begin by questioning the workers of the neighboring yards. The police quickly conclude suicide by immolation, a gesture of despair. Batal and Fatma refute this thesis. Why choose a place so reclusive when usually one immolates oneself in the city centers, hoping to provoke a popular reaction? A few days later, in the same neighborhood, a teenager is found dead in the middle of a wasteland, also calcined. Our investigators are far from imagining what will happen next…


Film still from Under the Fig Trees

Under the Fig Trees by Erige Sehiri
Tunisia – Narrative Feature – Parallel Selections – Director’s Fortnight

Among the trees, young women and men working the summer harvest develop new feelings, flirt, try to understand each other, find – and flee – deeper connections.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022: Shorts

The short film competition at Cannes – Cannes Court Métrage – unfortunately does not have any Arab films competing for the Short Palme D’or. Their market catalog, however, has nearly thirty shorts from the Arab world and diaspora playing. 


Film still from Border

And Then They Burn the Sea dir. Majid AL-REMAIHI (Qatar): A mother’s gradual and terminal memory loss over the course of many years.

Ashes (Cendres) dir. Lewis Martin SOUCY, Mehdi AJROUDI (Tunisia, France): With the help of a young Tunisian hunting guide, a retired French soldier sets out into the desert on a quest for redemption.

Bam’s dir. Maurad DAHMANI (France): Bam’s, a 28-year-old man in professional reintegration, is sent by the French employment agency to a job interview in an association dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing people. Although Bam’s has no qualifications, he is finally taken on for a trial period.

Border dir. Khalifa AL-THANI (Qatar): In an abstrusely dystopian future, a man wishes to return to his family. But navigating the complex system becomes a near-impossible journey.

Desert Island dir. Yasmijn KARHOF: A passionate, but imaginary love experience seen through a female gaze. A longing for being in love that briefly liberates us from loneliness and isolation, but also leads to experiencing its evanescence.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable dir. Shaima AL-TAMIMI (USA, Yemen): Shaima Al-Tamimi shares an introspective letter to her deceased grandfather, reflecting on her ancestral migrational journey and its implications over three generations. Shaima is an AFF Alum, and this short played last year as part of AFF 2021.


Film still from Frida

Frida dir. Mohamed BOUHJAR (Tunisia): Frida, is confronted one day with the will of the mother of her best pupil to change her daughter from her class. Frida, believing herself to be supported by the values of the school of the republic, finds herself alone in the face of a machination that will try to take her away from her work.

Frond (Saef) dir. Wejdan ALMARZOUQ (Saudi Arabia): The wicker and frond industry is the most well-known of the popular crafts, dating back to Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and other locations where palm agriculture flourished, in most people’s lexicon: the frond home.

Immortalizing the Art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri dir. Saad TAHAITAH (Saudi Arabia): From mountain villages that inspired everyone who lived there, the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri emerged from the deaf walls of their houses and made them come to life.

Jerky Flow dir. Adnane RAMI (France): In a Parisian deprived estate, Riad, a 17-year-old stutterer Moroccan is attracted by a Rap competition. Faced with his speech impairment difficulties and his big brother pressure, Riad decides, in spite of everything, to register.

Last Days of Summer dir. Nayef HAMMOUD (Palestine): Darwish, a young man with existential fatigue returns home from work with one concern: to fix the broken fan in his house, While his neighbor is shot at the building’s lobby and hospitalized, Darwish gets stuck in the crime scene looking for solutions for the fan while police investigate the scene.

Life on the Horn dir. Muhamed Bashiir HARAWE (Somalia): For over a decade, toxic waste has been dumped illegally on the coastline of Somalia. The earthquake and tsunami in 2004 damaged the toxic containers and spilled waste, which caused the spread of diseases. Many people left their villages but some stayed and lived with the consequences.

Film still from Olayan

Love in Galilee dir. Nader CHALHOUB, Layla MENHEM (France): At the age of 28, Faten is pushed by her family to marry a man she has not chosen. Convinced that this new life could bring her a long-awaited freedom, she finds herself all alone facing her own disillusionment. That is when she decides to return to her hometown in South Lebanon in search of love.

NEJMA – MARSH 2020 dir. Leila MSEFER (Morocco): Nejma goes to Casablanca for a work mission. Her father instructs her to bring her grandmother some medicine. Morocco closes its borders. Nejma finds herself stuck with a grandmother she hardly knows.

NO-NO Goes to Space dir. Wassim BOUTALEB JOUTEI (France): Three, two, one, zero! End of the countdown, Grocroc, Non-Non and their friends leave the earth’s orbit to plant the Underwood Springs’ flag on the moon! But a meteor shower deflects their trajectory… to send them to an unknown planet!

OLAYAN dir. Khalifa AL-MARRI (Qatar): A Bedouin boy named Hamad forms a bond with a newborn camel, who he calls Olayan. When Olayan is later sold to the market, young Hamad embarks on a mission to rescue his friend.

P.D.O. dir. Samy SIDALI (France): Advised by an administration full of good intentions, Latefa and her two children Walid and Ptissam, frenchize their first names at the same time as they acquire French nationality. They face this unique ordeal with humor and lightness, just before the start of the school year.

Return dir. Ghiath AL MHITAWI (Germany): Damascus, spring 2013. The Syrian soldier Husam visits his family, enjoying his mother’s company and food. He wants to tell her what he really feels: the people he fights for are corrupt & criminals. He’s afraid of death, and wants to escape military service, but she insists on portraying him as a hero.

Film still from Six Days Are Not Enough

SUN 89 dir. Mansour ALBADRAN (Saudi Arabia): The Estidama team decides to participate in the Solar World Challenge for Solar Cars the first time in Australia in 2019.

Sawdust dir. Maria ALMOOSA (Saudi Arabia): Every wood has a smell, and from the sawdust art is created.

Six Days Are Not Enough dir. Tha’er MITWALLI, Mahmod ABU SHAMSIEH (Palestine): Set during the 1967 war, four freedom fighters perform an individual heroic mission, after which they run into Sukkar, a child from Jerusalem. The freedom fighters are subsequently chased and fight to the death, and Sukkar survives as the sole witness.

T’embrasser sur le miel dir. Cherti KHALIL (France): Siwam lives somewhere in Syria. Rawad lives somewhere else in Syria. Despite the chaos, they decided to communicate by sending each other videos. By discovering the home movies they made for each other, it’s actually their encounter and their world that we’re discovering.

The 50th Psalm dir. Sharoof HAMAD, Fadi QUPTI (Palestine): Peter is having a secret relationship with his married neighbor, Roje. He tries to convince him to leave his wife so they can live together, but Roje refuses and asks for more time. Peter is tired of waiting and demands from Roje to make a decision.

The Story of Roshan dir. Abdulmajeed ALHARBI (Saudi Arabia): Rawashin and the history of this one-of-a-kind art. One of the rarest arts of decorating and Islamic building in the Hijaz, appearing a thousand years ago.

Arab Films at Cannes 2022

Film still from Who Corrupts Therein

The Vase dir. Tala TOUCKLEY (UAE): How third world culture kids can sometimes adapt a relationship to inanimate objects, to relate and stay close to their culture, even when they might not have a home.

We Were Kids (VI VAR BARN DÅ) dir. Alexander ABDALLAH, Mustafa AL-MASHHADANI (Sweden): Alexander has made a film about the jargon in concrete projects when he grew up. Macho norms, the talk that shatters dreams and the words that kill. Now he’s invited his childhood friends to show them the film.

When Beirut Was Beirut dir. Alessandra EL CHANTI (Qatar, Lebanon): If these buildings could talk, what would they say? Three of Beirut’s monumental buildings come to life and share their stories of Beirut’s unsettling history.

Where is the Friend’s Home? dir. Amina MAHER (Germany): The confrontation of the unspoken desires with the help of a friend. A brutally honest, fearless, and strong examination of the body and identity in relation to social taboos, violence, and power.

Who Corrupts Therein dir. Mostafa YOUNIS (Egypt): The presence of corruptors is necessary. Every person has lusts. Just as Adam ate from the forbidden tree, and Cain killed Abel, their descendants fight with each other, nation against another, both want to achieve their interests and whims, thus human destroys the beauty on the earth.

Who Games Last dir. Hassen MARZOUGUI (Tunisia): A newly appointed professor has just acquired a small second-hand car. He has an RV with a broker for renting a house. At the sight of his new car, all the professor’s interlocutors change their attitude, they all become friendly, nice and helpful.

And there’s more…

For the last exciting piece of news, three Arab filmmakers will be presenting their work at the L’Atelier event. Each year, L’Atelier selects about fifteen feature length projects from around the world, and invites their directors to the Festival de Cannes in order to put them in contact with film professionals. Egyptian director Ahmed Fawzi Saleh will present his film Hamlet from the Slums, director Ihab Jaballah will present his film The Doubt, and AFF Alum Suzannah Mirghani will present her first feature, Cotton Queen.

Such great and exciting news! If any of these Arab Films at Cannes 2022 win major prizes we’ll be back with an update, so make sure to stay tuned! Which film are you most excited for?