World premiering at this year's Festival de Cannes, Tarik Saleh's Boy from Heaven (Walad Min Al Janna) carries the grand responsibility of being the only Arab title in Competition. In a year when Arab cinema has seen unprecedented support from within regional cinematic organizations and from its diaspora audiences, it is a bit disconcerting to see the only Competition title be a mix of the usual components that make up the Western world's perception of the Islamic world. And that, made by a part-Egyptian filmmaker, the Swedish born Saleh.
The acting in the film is stellar and Tawfeek Barhom as leading man Adam, playing opposite an unrecognizable Fares Fares, is a wonderful, gutsy choice. But as Weissberg points out, substituting Istanbul's Süleymanye Mosque as a stand-in for Al-Azhar in Cairo is a clear indication of how the filmmaker feels about his audience. And a symptom of a larger problem with the entire curating community of men and women who program film festivals. They view their audience as below them, superficial or at the very best, uninformed -- clearly not as well travelled and well read as they are!
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