2022 Cannes Film Festival: The MENA films to look out for

2022 Cannes Film Festival: The MENA films to look out for
The world's most famous stars and directors are expected to flock to the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, held annually in the glamorous French Riviera. Here's The New Arab's preview of the MENA region's anticipated films.
3 min read
17 May, 2022
The Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 75th edition this year, and will screen a number of films from the MENA region [Getty]

The annual Cannes Film Festival, which previews new films from across the globe, is set to commence on Tuesday in the French Riviera, running until 28 May. 

The famed festival will showcase a number of highly anticipated films, including ones from the Middle East and North Africa region.

Two Iranian films will be competing for the grand Palme D’Or prize, Leila’s Brothers directed by Saeed Roustayi and Holy Spider by Ali Abbasi.

The former tells the story of 40-year-old Leila, played by Taraneh Alidoosti, who spends her life caring for her father and brothers in Iran, while facing poverty in a country gripped by economic sanctions.

Leila then hatches a plan to start a business in a bid to lift her family out of poverty.

The latter, which stars Zahra Amir-Ebrahimi, tells the story of a journalist who investigates a series of killings of sex workers by the so-called 'Spider Killer', who believes he is cleansing the streets of Mashhad from 'sinners'.

Meanwhile, in the 'Un Certain Regard' category, reserved for unusual and non-traditional films, The Blue Caftan (Morocco), Harka (Tunisia), Burning Days (Turkey), and Mediterranean Fever (Palestine) will compete for the prize, among other films.

The Blue Caftan, directed by Maryam Touzani, details the story of Mina and Halim, who own a caftan-making shop in the Moroccan city of Sale. The couple hides Halim’s homosexuality, which is considered a taboo in Moroccan society.

Mina, while battling an illness, welcomes a young apprentice to the shop, who upsets their balance. The film marks Touzani's return to the festival.

She previously directed the 2019 film Adam which was screened at the festival.

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Maha Haj’s Mediterranean Fever tells the story of Waleed, who lives in Haifa, Israel with his wife and children and dreams of being a writer.

Waleed, who suffers from chronic depression, develops a close friendship with his neighbour who has an ulterior plot in mind. While an unexpected friendship between the two men emerges from the scheme it also leads the pair on a journey of dark encounters.

Haj rose to international recognition 2016 with the film Personal Affairs, which also premiered at the festival.

Lotfy Nathan's Harka ("Movement"), follows Ali, a young Tunisian man in his twenties who sells contraband gas on the streets, in precarious conditions. Ali, like many Tunisians living amid the North African country’s economic crisis, dreams of a better life for himself.  

Meanwhile, Emin Alper’s Turkish production Burning Days revolves around a young and dedicated prosecutor Emre, who is appointed to a small town hit by a water crisis and political scandals.

Award-winning directors Asghar Farhadi from Iran, Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania and Egyptian Yousry Nasrallah will sit on the 'main competition', 'independent' and 'short film' juries, respectively.