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Cannes 2019: Official Selection Films Review

Every year, the most renowned film festival in the world, presents masterpieces of movies of different cultural backgrounds. It has become a quest to raise awareness within the international community through the magic of motion pictures. The films Le Jeune Ahmed and It Must Be Heaven are two of many that have depicted an omnipresent reality wrapped in an audiovisual message.

The Belgian drama Le Jeune Ahmed, is about an issue that has gained global concern since the turn of the century that is Islamic radicalism.

While adults carry out most terrorist attacks, the indoctrination of this extreme mindset often starts at an earlier age. Such is the case of the young Belgian Ahmed, who plots to kill his teacher upon the teachings of his neighborhood imam. Ahmed, full of misinformed and uncontrolled anger, revolts against all the female characters surrounding him; his own mother, his teacher, and a young lady he encounters later on.

Directed by the famous Dardenne brothers, Le Jeune Ahmed emphasizes body language, and the not-so-obvious social and psychological gestures performed by a cast of unknown actors.

It sets a contrast between what Ahmed intended to do, and the de-radicalization process he follows afterwards. A moment with a girl, which opposes everything radicalism stands for, represents a glance of awakening and enlightenment in the very complicated life of the 13-year-old.

On their choice of the controversial topic, the directors commented: “We have been deeply affected by the attacks that took place in France and Belgium. It has never been the case for us to stage the preparations for attacks of this kind, but to focus on the kind of local and domestic jihad.”

Watch the trailer here.

An ongoing national identity crisis is what most Palestinians face today. Elia Suleiman, the director and lead actor of It Must Be Heaven, escapes his motherland Palestine for a new homeland. But as with most immigrants, his country creeps behind him on his international journey from Paris to New York.

In a comedic style, focusing less on the monologue and more on life events, Suleiman tries to discover what a real home country is all about.

The situation in Palestine does have a global similarity, hence the universal value of the film, as Elia Suleiman explains: “It Must Be Heaven shows ordinary everyday situations of people across the world living in a climate of geopolitical global tension. And the violence erupting in one place is similar to the violence erupting in another. Images and sounds containing this violence or tension are being felt in all the world centers and not, as in the past, just somewhere in the far corners of the world. There are checkpoints in each country at airports and in shopping malls. Police sirens and security alarms are no longer intermittent but constant.”

Watch the trailer here.