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Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jafar Panahi & Hiner Saleem

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The Conversation – Cannes Predictions VI: Middle East Repped by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jafar Panahi & Hiner Saleem

The Conversation – Cannes Predictions VI: Middle East Repped by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jafar Panahi & Hiner Saleem

We can anticipate a handful of items from the Middle East, Africa, and India will populate several sidebars, if not the competition itself. Turkey, at least, should be represented once again with Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Wild Pear Tree, who was last on hand with 2014’s Winter Sleep, which won the Palme d’Or. His fellow countryman Emin Alper, who competed in Venice with 2015’s Frenzy, could potentially make his first appearance in Cannes with his third film, Sisters, a story about three siblings from Anatolia put in foster care. Also, the debut of short filmmaker Serhat Karaaslan, Passed by Censor, could be amongst the titles selected.

Out of the Middle East, the major names being bounced around are Iran’s blacklisted auteur Jafar Panahi with Three Faces and Lebanon’s celebrated Nadine Labaki with her third film Capharnaum. Iraqi-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem, who is no stranger to Cannes, could be selected for his Who Killed Lady Winsley? Also, My Favourite Fabric from Syria’s Gaya Jiji, Tel Aviv on Fire from Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi and the intriguing Yomeddine from Egyptian-Austrian Abu Bakr Shawky have all been listed as major contenders. From Israel, Nimrod Eldar’s The Day After I’m Gone has been mentioned, while Nadav Lapid, who is making his French language debut with Synonymes is said to not be ready in time for the Croisette.

And from Tunisia, Mohamed Ben Attia, whose 2016 film Hedi took home a Best Actor prize in Berlin, is said to be a possibility with Weldi, which concerns a father trying to find his son who has been recruited by Isis.

From Africa, Rwanda’s Joel Karakezi has The Mercy of the Jungle (which stars Ibrahim Ahmed of Timbuktu), which concerns a soldier lost in the Congo, and Kenya’s Wanuri Kaihu has Rafiki.

Several titles from India could certainly make their entries into sidebars for the first time, including the ambitious epic Vada Chennai from Tamil director Vetri Maaran, fantasy film Tumbad from first time director Rahi Anil Barve, and Ivan Ayr’s Soni. One can’t discount the prolific Anurag Kashyap, whose 2012 gangster saga The Gangs of Wasseypur played in the Directors’ Fortnight as well as 2013’s Ugly—his latest, Womaniya, could also be a return.

Sure Thing: Wild Pear Tree, Three Faces, Who Killed Lady Winsley?, Weldi

Dark Horse: Sisters, Passed by Censor, Capharnaum, My Favorite Fabrice, Yomeddine, The Day After I’m Gone, Tel Aviv on Fire, The Mercy of the Jungle, Rafiki, Vada Chennai, Tumbad, Soni

Long Shot: Synonymes, Womaniya

The Conversation – Cannes Predictions I: North & South America
The Conversation – Cannes Predictions II: France
The Conversation – Cannes Predictions III: Europe
The Conversation – Cannes Predictions IV: U.K / Ireland / Australia
The Conversation – Cannes Predictions V: Russia / China / Japan / South Korea / Asia
The Conversation – Cannes Predictions VI: Middle East / Africa / India

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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