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Diving deep into the Maghreb and Middle East's cinematographies, offering a pluralist view upon these countries of different stories and fates, this 23rd edition focus more particularly on youth and women. 

In partnership with the Saudi Film Commission, the opening night will be dedicated to the young Saudi cinematographic creation, a full bloom cinema. Three previews from Palestine, Lebanon and Algeria, as well as multiple first featured films : the opportunity to meet numerous talented directors. 

The opening night of this 23rd edition will be dedicated to the young Saudi film creation, in partnership with the Saudi Film Commission. A true exploration of this burgeoning cinema which, since 2021, has been organizing its own worldwide film event, the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah. We will screen the short film Dunya's Day by young Raed Alsemari, winner of the Best Short Film Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and the first work to be released after the lifting of the Saudi Arabian film ban in 2018. It will precede Scales, the first feature film by filmmaker Shahad Ameen, Verona Award for Most Innovative Film at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

As a preview, with the exceptional presence of young Palestinian director Firas Khoury, we will program Alam. Inspired by his adolescence, his film delivers, not without humor and finesse, a poignant portrait of this youth, driven by the will to live freely.

The first Iraqi film selected for the Venice Film Festival 2022, the first feature film of director Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji, Hanging Gardens, screened in his presence, presents us with a poetic and metaphorical work with a subtle scenario that allows, through a blow-up doll, to denounce the American influence, the societal omnipresence of sexuality, and the violence done to Iraqi women.

On the Jordanian side, Daughters of Abdul-Rahman by Zaïd Abu Hamdan, tells the story of four very different sisters who meet again after the mysterious disappearance of their father. There is the conciliatory Zainab, the cynical and cold Samah who always argues with the very religious Amal wearing the niqab. In turn, they clash with their liberal, stubborn and independent little sister, Khitam. Four sisters who must face the truth about themselves in the most unlikely situations..

In preview, another film on female rebellion against the dominant patriarchy, Cinémed 2022 Audience Award, Mothers Valley by Carlos Chahine. Setting his first feature film in the historical-political context of the civil war in Lebanon, the Lebanese director adds to the beauty of the Lebanese landscape that of his heroines aspiring to emancipation.

Freely inspired by a true story, that of the years of struggle that his father went through, the Moroccan filmmaker, Al Hadi Ulad Mohand signs with Life suits me well, a first feature film that, through its wide and long shots of the city of Assilah, and its moments of love and absolute humanity, dilates time and offers us moments of poetry and beauty. A Moroccan ode to life.

From Algeria, The Life After by filmmaker Anis Djââd, African Critics Award at the Amiens International Film Festival 2022, draws another portrait of women, highlighting the status of women and idle youth, who, aspiring to a better future, have no choice but to flee. A fair and moving film.

Based on the famous novel by Sonallah Ibrahim, the Egyptian director, Samir Nasr, immerses us with Sharaf (Tanit Bronze at the Carthage Film Festival 2022), in the prison world of a dystopian Arab world, revealing the current situation of Arab societies.

In closing, with the presence of the Syrian-Lebanese actress Dea Liane, the talented Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania, (Le Challat de Tunis and La Belle et la Meute) will take us, with The Man who sold his skin, to Syria. With Yahya Mahayni, Orrizonti Award for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival 2020, the film, which stars Monica Bellucci from Italy, confronts two radically opposed worlds, from which emanates a profound reflection on the notions of freedom.

The Ciné Mourguet

The Cinémas du Sud Festival will take place in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon at the Ciné Mourguet, for a special screening on Sunday April 9th.

In preview will be presented The Last Queen, first feature film co-directed by the Algerian filmmakers Adila Bendimerad and Damien Ounouri. A last geographical and historical journey in 16th century Algeria, between tale and reality, to discover Queen Zaphira.


Exploring the cinema of the Maghreb and the Middle East, sharing a little-known cinematography that contributes constructively to the questions that cross the contemporary Arab world, and stimulating debates with the public, these are the objectives of the Festival Cinémas du Sud.


So many appointments not to be missed during this 23rd edition of Cinémas du Sud which looks promising. 

Farida Hamak

Abdellah Zerguine

Artistic direction



7 p.m : Opening Night

In partnership with the Saudi Film Commission

Night dedicated to Saudi young cinematographic generation.


  Scales by Shahad Ameen (Saudi Arabia, 2019, 1h14) 

In attendance of  Shahad Ameen









Scales : sirens call

Noticed with her short films Our Own Musical, Leila's Window and Eye & Mermaid, the Saudi director Shahad Ameen confirms all the hopes placed in her with Scales. A poetic first feature film committed on the place of the Arab woman in a patriarchal society. A work nominated to represent Saudi Arabia at the 2021 Oscars.

In the island village of 13-year-old Hayat, there is a strange ancestral tradition : young girls are sacrificed to mysterious sea creatures. The survival of the men depends on it. In this fishing village we do not mess around with this superstition. Rescued from the patriarchal waters, Hayat the survivor is quickly ostracized by the local population. The teenager, who has become an outcast among her own people, will have to fight for her survival...

A fantastic Girl power

Between the weight of tradition and a thirst for freedom, the young heroine of the film Scales navigates the troubled waters of patriarchy. For her first feature film, Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen chose to borrow the codes of fantasy to address the place of women, a theme that is dear to her : "I always wanted Scales to be seen, appreciated and act as a catalyst for broader conversations about gender roles, beliefs and feminism in the Arab world ". With this feminist fable, Shahad Ameen brilliantly makes the transition from short to feature film. Presented in prestigious international festivals, "Scales" has won awards : Verona Prize for the most innovative film at the Venice Film Festival, Bronze Tanit at the Carthage Film Festival and Best Feature Film Award at the Singapore International Film Festival.

Scales in the race at the Oscars

A great recognition for the filmmaker already noticed internationally for her short films Our Own Musical (2009), Leila's Window (2011) and Eye & Mermaid (2013). With Scales, Shahad Ameen confirms the hopes placed in her, offering herself a nomination in the race for the Oscars 2021 : "Having my film selected to represent Saudi Arabia as an official candidate for the Oscars, especially as an Arab director, has exceeded all expectations I had for this project". A supreme distinction for this director who has at heart to make Saudi cinema shine: "I hope that the incredible journey of  Scales will be a source of inspiration for my fellow filmmakers" . Mission accomplished for Shahad Ameen.

Laura Lépine

Read Shahad Ameen interview by clicking here 

preceded by 

Dunya’s Day by Raed Alsemari (Saudi Arabia, 2018, 14min)

In attendance of  Raed Alsemari


Dunya, the queen of the party

A graduation party that turns into a fiasco. There could not have been a better opening to the festivities of this 23rd edition. The comedy Dunya's Day by Saudi filmmaker Raed Alsemari won over cinephiles around the world, winning the Sundance Best Short Film award in the process. A jewelry movie!

Gala dresses, beautiful silverware, personalized cake : Dunya went to great lengths to celebrate her graduation. The cream of the crop is invited to the party. Dressed like never before, Dunya is planning to make her guests' eyes water. But there's one thing the mistress of the house hadn't planned : few hours before the festivities begin, the housekeepers walk out. Abandoned by all her servants, the young woman feels the tension rising. What was supposed to be the party of the century turns into a disaster...

Dunya's Day, Sundance's favourite

From Saudi director Raed Alsemari, Dunya's Day  has all the reasons in the world to attract worldwide cinephiles. The filmmaker's first short film, Dunya's day is also the first Saudi film to be released in Saudi Arabia since the 2018 lifting of the film ban. Screened in its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, this comedy gem has already raked in numerous awards: best film at New York's First Run Festival, best short film at the Red Sea Festival and best short film at the prestigious Sundance. Not to mention the warm reception from the audience : "The enthusiasm of the audience has been beyond our expectations. That's also the great thing about making genre films like comedies, is that you can hear the reactions right in the theater. Hearing the laughter of people during screenings from Salt Lake City to Paris to Cairo was the ultimate reward for me," says Raed Alsemari. A great start for this Saudi director who graduated from the prestigious New York Tisch School of Arts.

Desperately seeking Dunya

Dunya's Day is the graduation film of the student Raed Alsemari. With this first short film, the young filmmaker wanted to show "a part of Saudi society in Riyadh, a microcosm where graduation parties look like the Met Gala. I wanted the film to be a dive into this world, without judging it". Once the writing of his comedy was completed, Raed Alsemari faced a major challenge in preparing for the shoot : finding the right girl to play the role of Dunya. "It was very important that the person who was going to play this role would be empathetic despite the character's imperfections. It was important that the interpreter did not give the impression that Dunya was being denigrated, that she was being judged," confirms the filmmaker.


Alongside casting director Sarah Balghonaim, auditions for the lead role were held, without success. Raed Alsemari and the film's producer, Sarah Elnawasrah, then made a surprising decision: "After a few months, we still couldn't find the interpreter of Dunya. I talked to my producer about it and finally we decided to audition our casting director for the role! She is the one who plays Dunya. I am very proud that she accepted to play this role, her performance is incredible" ! Raed Alsemari has made his first short film, which has been acclaimed by the critics and has won numerous awards. For this promising young filmmaker, the party is far from over !

Laura Lépine

Read Raed Alsemari's interview by clicking here



 6:15 p.mPREVIEW


Alam by Firas Khoury (Palestine, 2022, 1h44) • French release on 30 of August


Alam : A portrait of Palestinian youth on fire


After several internationally acclaimed short films, including the brilliant Maradona's Legs, filmmaker Firas Khoury signs with Alam ("The flag"), a captivating film on the passage to adulthood and the political awareness of Palestinian youth. A fiery work presented in its world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).


Seventeen-year-old Tamer and his gang are among the "rebels" in high school. At the back of the class, the young man is more often focused on his future conquests than on his studies. A Palestinian student living in Israel, Tamer keeps his distance from politics. But as the Israeli Independence Day celebration approaches, an encounter turns his life upside down. The new girl in school, Mayssa, catches the eye of the carefree Tamer. And to impress her, the young man decides to take part in a political action called "Flag Operation".

The band of friends intend to make a mark on Israeli Independence Day, which is also a day of mourning for the Palestinians, the date of commemoration of the Nakba (in Arabic "the great catastrophe"). Their mission ? To replace the Israeli flag flying over the school yard with a Palestinian flag.  For this "commando operation", Tamer and his friends are ready to take all the risks...

Palestine, the youth in revolt


High school students who enter into resistance. The story of the film Alam takes place in Israel, but is surprisingly relevant to current events in France. Here, no question of pension reform, but of a flag, as a reminder of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through this first feature film, filmmaker Firas Khoury offers us a moving exploration of Palestinian youth, in full political awakening. Engaged in a struggle against forced oblivion, the teenagers gradually leave behind a form of insouciance to ardently defend their cultural and historical heritage.


A passage to adulthood reinforced by a political awareness. These are themes dear to Palestinian director Firas Khoury, author of numerous short films including Maradona's Legs, which had its world premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. And the future continues to smile on the filmmaker with the captivating Alam: presented in its world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the film received great awards including the Golden Pyramid for Best Film and the Audience Award at the Cairo International Film Festival 2022. Selected at the Cannes Film Festival's L'Atelier and at the Rome International Film Festival, Alam confirms the talent and subtlety of director-writer Firas Khoury. A filmmaker to be reckoned with.




Laura Lépine

9 p.m


Hanging Gardens by Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji (Irak, 2022, 1h57)

In attendance of Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji and co-producer Daniel Ziskind

Hanging Gardens : The doll that sets Iraq ablaze


With irony and subtlety, the filmmaker Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji signs with Hanging Gardens a powerful movie on Iraqi society. A story as poetic as it is hard-hitting, that deals with themes such as capitalism, war and sexuality. An explosive cocktail that testifies to the mastery of the Iraqi director.


In a huge dump in Baghdad, young As'ad finds an object that fascinates him. An American inflatable doll becomes the little boy's treasure. Very quickly, he develops a lucrative business plan around the precious loot. But As'ad did not foresee that his "clients" would mistreat his find.

A doll that goes boom


An American blow-up doll on Iraqi soil and a little boy's view of adult realities. With Hanging Gardens, the filmmaker Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji delivers a poetic and metaphorical work on Iraqi society today. By mixing irony and subtlety, the director takes a sharp look at a youth caught in the crossfire : "It's a very metaphorical film and this sex doll can represent many things : the American influence, capitalism, all the sexuality that surrounds us at the moment. We are not ready to face it yet. It could also represent the life of women in Iraq," says Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji.

A Special Mention at the Venice Film Festival


Without judgment or condemnation, the director invites us to question ourselves about these abuses, while keeping our free will. For the filmmaker, Hanging Gardens was also an opportunity to denounce violence against Iraqi women: "I have seven sisters, it is a very patriarchal community and this film speaks of the imbalance, of a society in which women are forced to disappear. The men are violent and as soon as women are pushed aside, the situation gets worse. Also, as a nation, we are very militarized. I have seen the violence, but my sisters have suffered from it ".


Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji's powerful film has won praise from cinephiles around the world. The film won the Best Film and Best Director awards at the Red Sea International Film Festival, and also won a Special Mention in the Orizzonti section at the Venice Film Festival. A slew of awards that completes the collection of the multi-awarded director for his first short film Children of God (2013). Iraqi cinema has found its directorial treasure.


Laura Lépine

Read Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji's interview by clicking here


3:30 p.m 

Daughters of Abdul-Rahman by Zaïd Abu Hamdan (Jordan, 2021, 1h58)

In attendance of  Zaïd Abu Hamdan


Daughters of Abdul-Rahman: Jordanian Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown



In Daughters of Abdul-Rahman, filmmaker Zaïd Abu Hamdan depicts with subtlety and humor the condition of Jordanian women in a patriarchal society. An audacious and captivating first feature film that confirms our good thoughts on this director-producer.


A hardened bachelor and guardian of her father, Zainab is a role model in the family. Her three sisters have nothing in common : among them, the cynical and cold Samah, the very religious Amal, wearing the niqab, and the young Khitam, stubborn and independent. Separated for several years, the four sisters that everything opposes will have to join forces to find their father who suddenly disappeared. During their journey, Abdul-Rahman's daughters will see their family secrets resurface. An explosive quartet ready to do anything to find the patriarch.

The enemy sisters, Jordanian heroines


While having radically opposed lifestyles, these four sisters are all caught between the weight of tradition and modernity. The starting point of the film Daughters of Abdul-Rahman is enough to arouse the viewer's curiosity. In this first feature film, director-producer Zaïd Abu Hamdan brilliantly portrays Jordanian women in all their diversity. A poignant film that denounces with humor and finesse the taboos that women suffer from in the Middle East. From the very religious sister to the liberated and cynical woman, through the young and independent woman, the Jordanian family is probed by the sharp eye of the filmmaker. Daughters of Abdul-Rahman is a poignant and universal family drama about women's choices in a patriarchal society. A transformed attempt for this director who was noticed internationally for his short film Baram & Hamza.

A multi-awarded first feature film


With this new luminous and moving story, Zaïd Abu Hamdan confirms all the hopes placed in him. "The script of "Daughters of Abdul-Rahman" is full of details that reflect the director's deep knowledge of women and the worlds in which they live, resulting in vivid and vibrant characters," confirms journalist Ola El-Shafie of the renowned daily El Watan.


And the critics were not mistaken : Zaïd Abou Hamdan's first feature film has won over the audience of many international festivals. Special Mention at the Beirut International Women Film Festival, Audience Award at the Cairo International Film Festival, Audience Award at the San Diego Arab Film Festival : the story of this Jordanian family in crisis has won the day. Abdul-Rahman's four daughters will continue to be emulated !


Laura Lépine

Read Zaid Abu Hamdan's interview by clicking here

6:30 p.m:  PREVIEW

Mother Valley by Carlos Chahine (Lebanon, 2022, 1h25)

In attendance of Carlos Chahine  

  In co-distribution with JHR Films and  Jour2Fête

Mother Valley : the Lebanese revolt is conjugated in the feminine

The first feature film of actor-director Carlos Chahine,  Mother Valley  is a luminous and moving film about the fate of a Lebanese family shaken by the echoes of a revolution rumbling in Beirut. A story inspired by the life of the filmmaker who had to leave Lebanon in 1975 because of the war.

1958, three sisters, Layla, Nada, Eva, spend the summer in a village in the Lebanese mountains. A family vacation that looked like it would be peaceful for the whole tribe. But for Layla, the eldest, the perfect wife, and her younger sisters, not everything will go as planned. The revolution that is rumbling in Beirut and the arrival of two French summer residents will upset the destiny of the three women. Layla, Nada, Eva will gradually stand up against this society that oppresses them.

Lebanese women : the heroines

Three sisters decide to take their destiny into their own hands against the dictates of the patriarchal system. A story so universal, it could take place in many places at different times. But it is in the Lebanon of 1958 that Mother Valley takes place. An immersive story in a country in turmoil where women are thirsty for emancipation. And the choice to bring to the screen the destiny of Layla, Nada, Eva is not due to chance, since Mother Valley was inspired by the life of the director himself as he had to leave his native Lebanon in 1975 because of the war.


"All the people you see in the film are people I knew. It's my grandfather, my grandmother, my two aunts, my father, the guys from the village. I know them all and I love them all deeply [...]. It is also the portrait of this woman (Layla) and it is all the complexity of the woman: I believe that I am like a sponge that has been soaked all my childhood of the women who surrounded me and especially of the one I adored, which is my mother ", confides Carlos Chahine.


By revisiting his personal history, the actor-director continues his exploration of the family initiated with his short films The Road to the North, dedicated to the role of the father, Chekhov in Beirut, a tribute to the mother and The Son of the Player which refers to the child he was. Previewed at the Cinémas du Sud festival, Mother Valley has already won the Audience Award at the International Mediterranean Film Festival and the Best Arab Film Award at the Cairo International Film Festival. A successful transition to feature film for the Lebanese actor-director.

 Laura Lépine

Read Carlos Chahine's interview by clicking here

9 p.m


Life Suits Me Well by  Al Hadi Ulad Mohand (Morocco, 2021, 1h38)

In attendance of Al Hadi Ulad Mohand

Life Suits Me Well: a luminous Moroccan hymn


With Life Suits Me Well, Al Hadi Ulad Mohand signs a moving and luminous first feature film about the end of life. A poetic story inspired by the story of his own family. A magnificent ode to life that has won awards at numerous international festivals.


Fouad is the father of three children. In his small town in the north of Morocco, he is a real local figure because he is the only employee of the post office. The family's destiny is about to change when Fouad learns that he has a neurological disease. As the patriarch's last days are numbered, his children and his wife decide to live each moment intensely by surrounding him with love. Like a thumbing of the nose at the disease.

A hymn to life inspired by a true story


In the 90's, in a small town in Morocco, a family's destiny is disrupted by illness. With his film Life Suits me Well, filmmaker Al Hadi Ulad Mohand composes a luminous story about the end of life, as moving as it is poetic. A daring theme for a first feature film, but one that owes nothing to chance.


"Life Suits Me Well is inspired by my personal story, that of my father, and it was difficult to express all that I experienced.  I demonstrate what I went through: there was a lot of love in that pain [...]. When you spend time with this pain, you say to yourself: come on, there is something to do: there is life, you have to enjoy it! That's the philosophy of this film : you know what's going to happen, you know the end, but why not live that moment. The family members replaced the pain with love. For me, it is above all a film of love" says the director.

A multi-awarded first feature film


With a meticulous direction and an overflowing humanity, Al Hadi Ulad Mohand delivers to the audience a sublime ode to life. Through his wide shots, his tableau shots of the magnificent city of Assilah and his moments of love, the director delivers a work illuminated from within by the Moroccan light.


A jewel of delicacy and humanity that has caught the eye of the juries of many international festivals. Critics' Week Award at the Carthage Film Festival, First Feature Film Award at the Tangier National Film Festival and Audience Award at the Split Mediterranean Film Festival in Croatia. And the list of awards does not end there for this Moroccan nugget since the actress Loubna Azabal, who plays the role of the mother, was crowned Best Actress at the Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam. On a soccer field, as on the big screen, Morocco has not finished shining !


Laura Lépine

Read Al Hadi Ulad Mohand's interview by clicking here



2:30 p.m


The Life After by Anis Djââd (Algeria, 2021, 1h45)

In attendance of Anis Djââd

« La vie d’après » (The Life After): The struggle of an Algerian mother


Journalist and author of several novels, Anis Djââd brilliantly turns to feature films with The Life After. A moving story about the struggle of a mother determined to offer a better life to her son.


In her village in western Algeria, Hadjer raises her son Djamil alone. Widowed after her husband was killed in a terrorist attack, Hadjer works as a housekeeper to support her son, a farm worker. The mother-son tandem tries to resist the harshness of life. But there is a rumor in the village: "they say" that Hadjer is a woman of bad reputation, with loose morals. In order not to have to face the gossip or possible reprisals, Hadjer decides to leave her village with her son. The time has come for Hadjer and Djamil to live a better life, the life after...

Algeria, my son, my battle


"In this village without pretension. I have a bad reputation" The famous song of Georges Brassens could become an anthem for Hadjer, the courageous mother of the film "The Life After" of journalist-novelist Anis Djââd. In this just and moving work, the filmmaker paints the portrait of a strong woman who decides to leave her village to offer a better life to her son. A powerful story that also demonstrates the idleness of Algerian youth, who have no choice but to flee, hoping for a better future. A film that is part of a neo-realism style, a genre that Anis Djââd is particularly fond of: " from the perspective of observation and radiography, it demonstrates, with the appropriate relief and without ever wanting to make a business out of it, the real ills society suffers from".


Presented in Algeria and in several international festivals, The Life After has already garnered several awards: from the African Critics' Prize at the Amiens International Film Festival to the Tanit d'or for the first work at the Carthage Film Festival, as well as the Bouamari-Vautier Prize for the best fiction, awarded by the France-Algeria Association. A beautiful recognition for this passage to the feature film of Anis Djââd. The writer-journalist had previously directed three short films: The Window (2012), Passage à niveau (2014) and Le voyage de Keltoum (2016).  Three works that led him to The Life After : "One, two, three, viva l'Algérie!"

Laura Lépine

Read Anis Djââd's interview by clicking here


5: 45 p.m


Sharaf  by Samir Nasr (Egypt, 2021, 1h35)

In attendance of  Samir Nasr

Sharaf : Egypt locked up

The director-writer-editor Samir Nasr will be the worthy representative of Egypt at this 23rd edition of the festival Cinémas du Sud. With Sharaf, the filmmaker signs a powerful and captivating work, adapted from the eponymous novel by Sonallah Ibrahim.

In his city of Cairo, the young Sharaf dreams of a better future. But in one evening, his destiny will change. The victim of a bad encounter, Sharaf is imprisoned for killing a man in self- defense. Behind the bars of his cell, the young Egyptian decides not to give up his desire for social ascension. To realize his dream, he will have to pay a high price....

Egyptian society locked from the inside

Based on the famous novel by Egyptian author Sonallah Ibrahim, "Sharaf" tells the story of a young modern Candide in a society plagued by unbridled capitalism. Aspiring to a better future, Sharaf is ready to do anything to achieve his goals. Through the torments of the main character, the author describes an Egyptian society consumed by the desire for wealth and consumption. A fictional hero, figurehead of an idle youth, incarcerated as a metaphor for a society locked from within. "You don't live anymore. You are worse than rats. Laboratory rats. A sleeping people, paralyzed, paralyzed all your lives. You must rise up ", shouts one of the prisoners from the bottom of his cell, as an appeal to all the Egyptian people.

After having directed several fictions and documentaries, the filmmaker-writer Samir Nasr signs a subtle adaptation of Sharaf on the big screen. A committed film, carefully directed, which denounces the excesses of Egyptian society and the distress of a sacrificed youth. Presented in several international festivals, Sharaf has already conquered moviegoers. Selected for the Red Sea International Film Festival, Samir Nasr's feature film received the Bronze Tanit and the Best Screenplay Award at the Carthage Film Festival. A nice distinction for the Egyptian filmmaker who has won several awards for his documentary and television films. There is no doubt that Lyon's moviegoers will appreciate the charm of Sharaf !

Laura Lépine

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8:30 p.m

 The Man Who Sold His Skin by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia, 2021, 1h40)

In attendance of the actress Dea Liane

The Man Who Sold His Skin: Freedom embedded in the skin

Fourth feature film by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania, The Man Who Sold His Skin impresses both by the beauty of its frames and by its subject. A powerful work that has received numerous international awards. It is also the first Tunisian film selected for the Oscars. A jewelry movie !

To escape the war and join the woman he loves in Europe, Sam Ali agrees to have his back tattooed by the most sulphurous contemporary artist in the world. The body of this young Syrian then becomes a work of art that the whole world is clamoring for. Sam Ali understands then that his destiny escapes him. This indelible pact was made at the price of his freedom...

A story inspired by the artwork Tim, 2006 

Playing with his skin. Literally and figuratively. When he agreed to get a tattoo to join his girlfriend in Europe, young Sam Ali never imagined that this decision would come at the price of his freedom. "This work of art bears the signature of the devil," exclaims one of the characters in the film The Man Who Sold His Skin, completely hilarious, as he contemplates the tattooed back of the young Syrian. With surgical precision and a sharp sense of aesthetics, director Kaouther Ben Hania signs a captivating and powerful story where two worlds collide: that of a Syrian refugee and that of the contemporary art world.


And it was in the aisles of the Louvre Museum that the story of the film took shape in the filmmaker's mind: "I was in Paris in a very Syrian environment: I met refugees who had incredible stories, they were odysseys. And as I am a kind of sponge, this "back story" of war in Syria became part of the story, it became obvious. There was a Wim Delvoye retrospective at the Louvre, I saw the Tim Steiner exhibition. In Napoleon's apartments, there was this man showing his back, with this tattoo that is completely different: there was this image that obsessed me for a while, I didn't really know what to do with it. And little by little I came up with the idea of a Schengen visa as an alternative to a real tattoo".

From the Venice Film Festival to the Oscars

For Kaouther Ben Hania, it was essential to bring a particular care to the aestheticism of the shots of The Man Who Sold His Skin, a will affirmed to "pay homage to the representation of the human body in the image. A successful bet for the director who signs a work with perfect control.


A story that seduced her actors Yahya Mahayni and Dea Liane, who respectively perform Sam Ali and Abeer: "I read the scenario like a novel, in one go, I was struck by the way Kaouther dares to use fiction, almost like a tale. This film is like an initiation story or a story of liberation. I see it like that: how a human being goes through ordeals to reach a form of integrity and dignity, and it also goes through love", says Dea Liane.


For Yahya Mahayni, the idea behind the film is to "understand the paradox of  attributing more value to money than to human beings". With this duo of actors who burst the screen and its ultra- polished direction, it is not surprising that The Man Who Sold His Skin has won many international festivals : Best Actor Award for Yahya Mahayni at the Venice Film Festival, Best Screenplay Award at the Stockholm Film Festival, Best Arab Film Award at the El Gouna Film Festival, among others. Cherry on top, The Man Who Sold His Skin is also the first Tunisian film selected for the Oscars 2021. A triumph, as an indelible mark in the hearts of all Tunisians!

Laura Lépine

Read Dea Liane's interview by clicking here


5 p.m  PREVIEW 


 The Last Queen (Algeria, 2022, 1h50)

by Adila Bendimerad & Damien Ounouri

In attendance of Damien Ounouri


The Last Queen : Zaphira, the Algerian legend

The Last Queen directed by Adila Bendimerad and Damien Ounouri, offers a beautiful closing to this 23rd edition of the festival Cinémas du Sud. A historical account of the fate of the sovereign Zaphira. Myth or legend? The Algerian queen has already conquered many hearts.

Legend has it that a long time ago, perhaps more than five hundred years ago, a queen named Zaphira lived in Algiers. At that time, the Spaniards controlled the city. Determined to conquer the kingdom, a pirate nicknamed Barbarossa managed to free the city from the yoke of the Spaniards. But the famous corsair is not only attracted by power. He also wants to win the heart of Queen Zaphira. Will the beautiful woman let herself be seduced or will she use her charms to achieve her goals ? The only certainty is that an Algerian legend is born.


An Algerian Game of Thrones

Did she really exist or was she a myth ? The Algerian queen Zaphira arouses many fantasies. According to the legend, this sovereign would have lived in the 16th century in Algiers and would have seduced the famous pirate Barbarossa. And it is the fate of this sovereign that the filmmakers Adila Bendimerad and Damien Ounouri have chosen to bring to the screen in The Last Queen. A subject born of a conversation between the two co-directors of the film: "this woman is a queen whose existence I discovered before writing the script, it was Adila who told me about it. I found it quite incredible to listen to this past we did not know about. Also there was the doubt Zaphira did indeed not exist, that she was only a legend. The story takes place in 1516 when Algiers was occupied by the Spaniards, when the Algerians called on the privateer Barbarossa to liberate the city [...]. My big childish eyes opened up when I told myself that we had this illustrious pirate in Algiers: and that immediately gave me a rather crazy desire for cinema!", says Damien Ounouri. 


Zaphira: myth or legend?

A desire shared by the actress Adila Bendimerad who co-signs The Last Queen,  her first feature film. "What struck me at first was that Zaphira is a female character who has been contested over the centuries by historians and sometimes supported by other historians. It always intrigued me: why did some historians want to erase her from history and why did others want to create her? Without judgment, we tackle this question of the erasure of women, but also of fantasizing about women in History, of needing to invent them. It was interesting to place ourselves in this node," says the director, who plays the bewitching Zaphira.


And the Algerian queen has already seduced, in addition to the reckless Barbarossa, film lovers around the world : Adila Bendimerad was crowned best actress at the International Film Festival of the Red Sea. And this is just the beginning for the Algerian queen !


Laura Lépine

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