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Cannes Fest: Africa's Presence Is Real

A look into the films competing at the event this year.

BY Agnes Amondi

May 15, 2023, 06:07 PM

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1987 was the first time that an African film was nominated in the ‘In Competition’ category at the Cannes Film Festival. Malian Souleymane Cisse’s film Yeelen won the jury prize, a first for the continent and paved the way for the continent.

Many years later, African films have been nominated for various awards at the event. In 2018, the local film Rafiki was nominated for the Palme d’Or award, in 2021 Chad’s Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s film Lingui and Moroccan Nabil Ayouch’s film Haute et Fort was also up for the same award. 

Africa’s presence in the event is growing and this year, there’s a host of films from the continent selected in different categories. Here’s a preview of all the films.

Banel & Adama - Ramata-Toulaye Sy.

French Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy is competing against some of the big guns in the film world like Wes Anderson, Ken Loach, Jonathan Glazer and Todd Haynes among others. 

She is a new name at the global level but that will change when her debut feature film ‘Banel & Adama’ is presented at the Cannes Film Festival. The film revolves around a young couple whose love plunges their village into chaos. 

The film will make its debut at Cannes.

Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters) - Kaouther Ben Hania.

Kaouther Ben Hania is not new at Cannes. In 2017, her film was nominated for the Un Certain Regard category. Four Daughters tells the story of a mother whose two daughters disappeared and Kaouther uses actresses to tell their stories.

Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani.

Mohamed Kordofani will be the first film director in Sudan’s history to present a film at the Cannes Film Festival. His film Goodbye Julia which competes in the Un Certain Regard category tells the story of a retired musician from the North who is now ridden with guilt after he covered up a murder of a man who comes from the South.

In interviews he’s done, Kordofani says that his film touches on the country’s volatile political history as well as racism, something he says, many don’t talk about. 

Omen by Baloji.

Congolese-Belgian filmmaker Baloji first feature film dances between fiction and reality by exploring the world of Omen who was cut off by his family. The film examines how one’s beliefs affect their fate as it follows four people accused of witchcraft and sorcery.

The film competes in the Un Certain Regard section alongside Asmae El Moudir’s film Kadib Abyad and Les Meutes among others.

Les Meutes (Hounds) by Kamal Lazraq.  

LES MUETES © Barney Production - Mont Fleuri Production - Beluga Tree
Moroccan Filmmaker Kamal Lazraq returns to Cannes with his directorial debut film Les Meutes after he won a second prize at the Cinefondation 2011. 

Les Meutes or Hounds in English is set in Casablanca and tells the story of a struggling father and son. They are engaged in shoddy deals to keep them going. 

During one of their assignments, a man dies in their car and they have to find a way of getting rid of his body, which throws them into the deep end of Casablanca’s underworld.

In interviews, Kamal revealed that this film was a continuation of his first Moul Lkelb (The Man with the Dog). His desire was to explore the fine line between living on the margins of the urban world, meeting with strangers and the desperation this situation lives you in. 

The film was shot from October 10 to November 18.


Everyone knows this film. If you haven't watched it, you've heard of it. Three decades later, the film still resonates. Shot during South Africa's fight for freedom, it inspires young people and gives them hope that they have the capability to make change.

The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 and now, it's been selected by the jury in the Official Cannes Classics. Leleti Khumalo expressed her excitement at the nomination and can't wait to be on the red carpet to relive it all. 

Kadib Abyad by Asmae EL Moudir. 

Moroccan film director goes in search of her family's history and while at it, digs into the 1981 Bread Riots, and draws similarities of her country’s history to contemporary society.

Note: All Images are sourced & credited to the Cannes Film Festival Website Press Kit.