Six Arab Films Screening at Cannes 2019

It's a big year for Arabs at Cannes this year - and we aren't only talking films

Palestinian film director Elia Suleiman is back at Cannes with his new film It Must Be Heaven. Photo: Rectangle Productions

by Staff Reporter

Entertainment 18 May 2019

The 72ndedition of the Cannes film festival is on the way and running until May 25.

And it’s a big year for Arabs.

Directory and past Jury Prize winner Elia Suleiman is back this year with a new film, there are three debut feature films from three female Arab directors (yes!) and this year also marks the first time that the Un Certain Regard Jury president is an Arab.

Our favorite, Nadine Labaki.

Prizes and awards are important. But what’s more important is visibility and word of mouth. So whether they receive any formal recognition, it’s more important for us to make sure all of you know what Arab films are on show at Cannes this year.

Don’t get us wrong though. If any of these amazing films get awarded then we will be the first to scream and shout about it. And based on the quality of stories and production, we are hoping that they will.

So what are the Arab films that you should keep an eye out during and even after the festival is over?

We’ve listed the six Arab films showing at Cannes this year with a little blurb so you can find out a little more about them.

We literally can’t wait to watch all of them.

WATCH: Jury president of Cannes Film Festival Nadine Labaki talks films

It Must Be Heaven

The Palestinian film director is back with his new film It Must Be Heaven. Back in 2002, Elia Suleiman, won the Jury Prize at Cannes for his film Divine Intervention, a tragic comedy about living under occupation in Palestine.

It Must Be Heaven, explores the concept of home, homeland and identity. Elia himself travels to different cities around the world and on his journey comes across parallels to Palestine.


Ambience is a short film. It was one of 17 short films selected out of 2, 000 submissions for the Cinéfondation section that focuses on films made by students at film schools.

That’s pretty amazing. Ambience is by Wisam Al Jafari from Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Palestine and follows two young people who are trying to record music while living in a refugee camp to win a competition.

Although things don’t go exactly to plan, they decide to use their sounds around them to make a difference to reality they are living.


Actress, screenwriter and director Maryam Touzani is from Tangier, Morocco and brings us the film Adam.

It’s the story of Abla. The a widow is fighting the odds to give her 10-year-old daughter the best possible future. Abla starts a business from her own kitchen where she sells homemade bread and Moroccan pastries. The work is hard and she begins to neglect her daughter.

But when a young woman pregnant woman arrives at her door for shelter, Alba has no idea how this meeting will change her fate forever.


Papicha is Algerian director Mounia Meddour’s first feature film.

Set in 1990s Algiers, the country is on the brink of being controlled by terrorist groups who plan to establish an Islamic state.

Nedjma is an 18-year-old student who refuses to let the Algerian Civil War and the possible new threats in society change how she wants to live her life – independently and free.

Rejecting the new bans set by radicals that are now in power Nedjma decides to fight them by organizing a fashion show.

For Sama

Directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts, For Sama is a feature documentary revolving around Waad al-Kateab’s life during the Syrian war.

Filming her life for five years in the  rebel-held Aleppo, we see through Waad’s own camera how she falls in love, marries a doctor and has a daughter all while the world around her erupts in chaos and violence.

The Unknown Saint

Moroccan director Alaa Eddine Aljem’s black comedy, The Unknown Saint follows a young thief.

While on the run from the police, the thief buries stolen money in the desert, disguising it as a tomb. After ebign released from prison almost a decade later, he goes back for his loot only to find that construction has taken place on his fake tomb.

In order to get back what he stole, he’ll need more than just the skills of an ordinary thief.

Tu Mérites un Amour

This is Tunisian-Algerian actress Hafsia Herzi directorial debut.

The film centers around the break-up of a young couple, Remi and Lila, and how their lives are altered in the aftermath.

Relationships, love and human nature are nuanced themes that Hafisa explores with real sensitivity, promising that there will be more to come from her as both an actress and director.

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