After the revelation Confidential Cairoreleased on screens in 2017, the selection of the new feature film by Tarik Saleh in Competition at Cannes foreshadowed a nice surprise, the opportunity may be to confirm, or even amplify, the qualities identified in the previous opus.
The Cairo Conspiracy (Boy From Heaven) is a political thriller set in Al-Azhar, the mythical university of Cairo and a veritable Sunni institution, within which different currents of Islam clash. Adam, a young man, the son of a fisherman in a village, obtains a scholarship to study in this high place of Islamic studies. Convinced that his father will oppose it, he is surprised when the latter accepts, seeing in it the will of God. Shortly after his arrival, the Grand Imam dies, opening a major politico-religious crisis.
The Cairo Conspiracy goes beyond the stricto sensu framework of Islam to address the troubled relationship between power and religion, and the internal struggles that result from it.
It is by reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, that the filmmaker had the idea of telling a similar story but in a Muslim context. A daring bet because so far so precise incursions into this environment have been rare. The result, despite a few easy writing here and there, is very successful.
Undesirable in Egypt (where he nevertheless comes from through his mother), the director has filmed in Turkey, such as in the Süleymanye Mosque in Istanbul. He was able to take advantage of his graphic power admirably, especially during the scenes taking place in the courtyard of the university. The staging is quite remarkable, like the magnificent overall shots paying particular homage to the beauty and solemnity of this sacred place.
But, even more than the form, it is the background and the intelligence with which the filmmaker treats his subject that seduces: an eminently political and reflexive work, a charge against Egyptian politics, The Cairo Conspiracy goes beyond the stricto sensu framework of Islam to address the troubled relationship between power and religion, and the internal struggles that result from it. As such, Adam, main character and common thread of the plot, represents naivety, purity, immersed in corruption and issues that seem to exceed him. Used both as an indicator by State Security (whose interest lies in the appointment of a new spiritual leader close to power) and as an assistant to certain pretenders to the title of Grand Imam, disoriented, he is the witness from an environment where all shots will be allowed and will not return to his village unscathed: at the end of this initiatory journey, he will become, as the title underlines, the ” boy from heaven “.
To conclude, we must salute the general quality of the interpretation while highlighting more particularly the excellent performance of Tawfeek Barhom (in the role of Adam), a serious contender for the prize for best actor. The jury of this 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, chaired by actor Vincent Lindon, was sensitive to this relevant and fair work which approaches Islam without any cliché or bias, by awarding it the Screenplay Prize.
RÉALISATEUR : Tarik Saleh NATIONALITÉ : France, Suède, Maroc, Finlande AVEC : Tawfeek Barhom, Fares Fares, Mohammad Bakri GENRE : Thriller politique et philosophique DURÉE : 2h DISTRIBUTEUR : Memento Distribution SORTIE LE 26 octobre 2022