Arab films that are premiering in 2020 Venice International Film Festival

Since the pandemic closed down all public gatherings around the world, the 77th Venice International Film Festival, which took place from September 2 till September 12, was the first film festival to be held in a physical location, rather than virtually.

The films selected for screening were divided into three categories: The Venezia 77 (main competition), Horizons and Out of Competition.

This year’s line-up contained a variety of foreign films from across the world. Led by Festival Director, Alberto Barbera, festival organisers intended to feature more international films to make sure that the festival remained “a shop window for the best cinema production in the world.”

Three Arab feature-length films,as well as one short—competed in the Horizons category. Here’s a closer look at each one of them:

Gaza Mon Amour

Directed by the Palestinian twins, Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser, the film follows the story of Issa, a 60-year-old fisherman, who secretly falls in love with Siham, a dressmaker. Issa inadvertently catches an Ancient Greek statue of Apollo in his net while fishing. He hides the statue at home and trouble follows when Hamas discovers its existence. The storyline is inspired by true events that took place in 2014, when an ancient statue of Apollo was fished out of the sea in Gaza.

The Man Who Sold His Skin

This drama, written and directed by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hani, follows the story of Sam Ali, a Syrian man who fled to Lebanon to escape the Syrian war, hoping to eventually join his lover in Paris.

Under her Skin

This short film, directed by Algerian director Meriem Mesraoua, follows the story of Sarah, a young girl who is forced to follow new rules her mother set for her, forbidding her from biting her nails. Sarah has no choice but to abide by the rules that she does not fully comprehend. She later regains control over her actions and slowly redefines her attitude towards herself and others.

Zanka Contact

Ismael El Iraki’s film Zanka Contact revolves around an Irish rock star named Larsen who loses his voice to cancer.  When he falls in love with Rajae, a streetwalker in Casablanca, his voice magically is restored.