One of the cinema world's most prestigious and highly regarded festivals kicks off in Italy today. Running from 28 August to 7 September, the event has long been host to indie hits and Oscar winners alike - last year's award-winning pictures Roma and A Star Is Born premiered in the hallowed Palazzo del Cinema. 2019 will see the return of Venice veteran directors, new Netflix productions alongside Hollywood titles and pictures starring the likes of Brad Pitt, Timothee Chalamet, Kristen Stewart, Penelope Cruz. Notably, the festival will welcome its first female Arab jury member; Tunisian-Egyptian actress Hend Sabry will take her place on the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film panel. The MENA region is showcasing the cinematic creativity within its diverse cultures, with an array of incisive and engaging submissions from Jordan to Sudan.
Give Up The Ghost
This short film from Jordanian director, screenwriter and actress Zain Duraie follows Salam, a young woman who wishes to have children but faces a difficult choice. Duraie explores the social pressure and stigma surrounding the concept of motherhood, posing the question: "What if we stand for what we believe in, to become leaders and not followers to what society wants to make of us?"
The Perfect Candidate
Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia's first female filmmaker, is up for the prestigious Golden Lion Award with her new highly anticipated feature film The Perfect Candidate. Al-Mansour, whose first film Wadjda premiered at Venice in 2012, is one of only two female directors (out of a category of 21...) in the running. The film tells of a young female doctor looking to run for office.
You Will Die At 20
Sudanese, UAE-born filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala's debut feature film will premiere at the "Venice Days" event. When Muzamil is born, a village elder predicts that he will die at the age of 20, cursed by a Dervish prophecy. He spends his life tormented by impending doom, whilst his mother does everything in her power to stop the prophecy being fulfilled, until his 20th birthday finally arrives...
Bik Eneich: Un Fils
Tunisian director Mehdi Barsaoui's film centres around a family of three, whose lives descend into chaos after a tragic accident befalls their son on holiday. His all-important surgical procedure uncovers a deep secret, casting doubt over his family's future together. With much-acclaimed performances from the whole cast, Barsaoui notes, "Bik Eneich – Un Fils is not just a film about fatherhood; it’s also a film about a couple, their place in society, and also about empowerment—both feminine and masculine."
Manèle Labidi's comedy, part of the "Venice Days" lineup, follows a psychoanalyst who welcomes a host vibrant characters at her newly opened clinic in Tunis. Providing a vivid insight into modern Tunisia (the original title was Un divan à Tunis), the film also boasts a star-studded cast comprising Golshifteh Farahani, Hichem Yacoubi and Majd Mastoura.