The Doha Film Institute Sets A New Record At The Cannes Film Festival 2023

Emma Hodgson   |   16-05-2023

Arab talent is being celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival this week. For the first time, two films from the region have been included as part of the prestigious ‘Official Selection – In Competition’ category.

The films tapped by judges at the festival include About Dry Grasses by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero, with both projects being co-funded by the Doha Film Institute. 

Club Zero by Jessica Hausner


Both films have an educational twist; About Dry Grasses follows the story of Samet, a teacher from south-eastern Turkey, who is accused of attacking a student, and follows the fallout from the accusation. Meanwhile, Club Zero is a drama-thriller set in an elite school which sees a shocking turn of events unravel when a teacher introduces a controversial new class.

A recent winner of the Doha Film Institute grant,  Senegalese filmmaker Ramata-Toulaye SY, was also chosen for the ‘Official Selection – In Competition’ list, making her the first-ever winner of the grant to appear in the category, for her work Banel E Adama. The film is a romantic-drama and follows two teenagers who fall in love, and reject social customs in their Senegalese village in order to be together. 

Films supported by the Doha Film Institute, which have been selected for a slew of other categories include:

Official Selection, Un Certain Regard

The Mother of All Lies by Asmae El Moudir

This feature documentary sees the filmmaker investigate the secrets of a Casablanca family using different personal stories of each family member to ground historical events.  


If Only I Could Hibernate by Zoljargal Purevdash

The story follows a poor  teenager, who lives with his mother and siblings. The physics teacher who recently transferred to his school notices Ulzii’s talent in physics and encourages him to participate in competitions.


Hounds by Kamal Lazraq

This is set in the working-class suburbs of Casablanca, and narrates the story of a father and son, who are trying to make ends meet by doing odd jobs. One night, a man they were meant to kidnap accidentally dies in the trunk of their car, marking the start of an unravelling of events. 

Omar La Fraise by Elia Belkeddar.

Official Selection, Midnight Screenings


Omar La Fraise by Elia Belkeddar 

This is one of only three films selected to the Midnight Screenings segment of the Official Selection. The film is about an old school gangster, who is forced to flee from France to Algiers, and must clean up his act to stay away from French prisons. 

Critics’ Week (Semaine de la Critique)


InshAllah Wallad by Amjad Al Rasheed

The film is about a grieving mother shaken up by the sudden death of her husband, who is now at the risk of losing her home to her brother-in-law.


Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu 

This unusual film is about a girl who discovers a terrifying secret about her physical self. 


I Promise You Paradise by Morad Mostafa 

This is a short film about Eissa, a young illegal African migrant in Egypt in a quest against time to save his loved ones.


Lost Country by Vladimir Perisic 

explores the sensorial, emotional and political formation of a boy born at the beginning of the 80-is in Yugoslavia as the political system around him radically unfolds.

I Promise You Paradise by Morad Mostafa


Director’s Fortnight (Quinzaine des cinéastes)


Deserts by Faouzi Bensaïdi

The film is about two longtime friends Mehdi and Hamid who work for a collection agency, and their meeting with an evader that marks the beginning of an unforeseen and mystical journey. 



Machtat by Sonia Ben Slama 

This film follows the lives of wedding musicians Fatma and her two daughters Najeh and Waffeh and their struggles to go about their daily lives, hoping for a better future.