Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #12. Ahmed – Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
The Dardenne Bros. turn their socially minded lens to religious extremism with their eleventh narrative feature, Ahmed. As usual, the Dardennes are collaborating with production company Les Films du Fleuve, returning to a template which saw them find early success by using a cast of unknowns. Having twice won the Palme d’Or (Rosetta, 1999; L’enfant, 2005), the duo are the most celebrated directors to have come from Belgium, making any of their projects of instant note. Besides their Palme wins, their offerings almost always leave Cannes with a major prize, including the Ecumenical Jury Prize for 2002’s Le fils, Best Screenplay for Lorna’s Silence in 2008, the Grand Jury Prize for 2011’s The Kid with a Bike, and again the Ecumenical Jury Prize for 2014’s Two Days, One Night (which also resulted in an Oscar nod for Marion Cotillard). Their 2016 feature The Unknown Girl (read review) was their only effort to leave the festival unrewarded.
Gist: The Dardennes turn to another topical issue with Ahmed, religious fundamentalism. While details are scarce, the plot concerns a young man who plots to kill his teacher following his extremist interpretation of the Quran. Early details are reminiscent of similar territory explored by Rachid Bouchareb in his 2016 Belgian set The Road to Istanbul, which explores a mother’s journey to search for her radicalized teenager.
Release Date/Prediction: Shot over the summer of 2018 with an unknown cast, and receiving post-production support from the screen.brussels fund, we expect to see the Dardenne Bros. return to Cannes in 2019 for the eighth time.