Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Three Arab films scoop top awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

'It Must Be Heaven' wins Special Mention in main competition, 'For Sama' and 'Ambience' also rewarded

There were big wins at this year's Cannes Film Festival for Arabic cinema on Saturday, with a special mention in the main competition for Elia Suleiman’s comedy It Must Be Heaven, the Goldeneye Documentary Prize for Waad al-Kateab and ­Edward Watts’s For Sama, and a tied third place in the ­Cinefondation section for Wisam Al Jafari’s Ambience.

Look through the photo gallery above to see more of the winners.

Suleiman’s film resulted in the director, who also starred in the movie, traversing the globe from Paris to New York alongside co-star Ali Suliman (Homeland, Lone Survivor) in a semi-autobiographical tale of a Palestinian man seeking a new homeland, only to find similarities with his homeland wherever he goes.

Suleiman’s film also picked up the Fipresci Critics’ Award. The jury said in a statement: “In a subtle, stylistically strong and humorous way, this film tells a story that goes beyond politics, religions, authorities and cultural differences. Even though those differences are observed with a sharp eye for the absurd that slides through hypocrisy and are delivered with great cinematic and often surprising choreographies.”

For Sama, meanwhile, tells the story of co-director Al-Kateab’s experience of being a young mother through the beginning of the war in 2012 to the fall of Aleppo in December 2016 via first-hand footage recorded in real time.

Ambience is directed by Palestinian student Wisam Al Jafari, who attends Palestine’s Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture. The film tells the story of a pair of aspiring musicians trying to record a demo in a hectic refugee camp. When their efforts are repeatedly hindered by the camp’s noise, they hit on the idea of using the day-to-day buzz and noise of the camp as a soundtrack in its own right.

Elsewhere, this year’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, went to South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho for Parasite, a dark comedy thriller exploring social class through the eyes of a family of hustlers.

French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop has also become the first black female director to win an award in Cannes’ history. Diop won the Grand Prix – the second prize – for Atlantics, a drama about young migrants and sexual politics.

Updated: May 26, 2019 05:50 PM

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