Egyptian film Yomeddine has been selected for the official competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, which runs from 8 to 19 May, marking the first time an Egyptian director's feature-debut has made the line-up.
The film is also the only feature debut in the competition this year, competing with 16 other films by renowned international directors, including Jean Luc-Goddard, Asghar Farhadi, Spike Lee and Jaafar Panahi, to name a few.
Directed by Abu Bakr Shawky, Yomeddine follows a leper named Beshay who leaves the confines of the Abu Zaabal leper colony for the first time, embarking on a journey across Egypt. In the company of his orphaned apprentice Shika, he goes in search for what remains of his family.
In an interview with Variety, the festival’s artistic director Thierry Fremaux described Yomeddine as a "truly cinematic film".
“It reminded me of an Italian neorealist film," he said. "It sheds light on the depths of Egypt. It’s a unique and poetic work of art. And as many films do, it enlightens us by pondering on who we are, who are the others, what the world is like."
The film was initially co-produced by the director and his wife Dina Emam. However, it went on to receive several production awards that assisted with funding.
It was a runner-up for the IWC Filmmaker Award at the Tribeca festival this year, which provides finishing funds to feature-length narratives.
It was also awarded at the Cinegouna platform, which launched last year at the first Gouna Film Festival to support films in different stages of development.
Production was further supported by a kickstarter campaign, and the film’s later stages were co-produced by Egyptian production company Film Clinic.
One other Arab film in the main competition at Cannes is Capernaum by Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, while two Arab films will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section: My Favourite Fabric by Syrian director Gaya Jiji, and Sofia by Meryem Benm’Barek from Morocco.
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