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Egyptian-Directed ‘The Brink of Dreams’ Wins Cannes Documentary Award

May 26, 2024
Image Credit: Moustafa Shaaban Abdelhamid/Facebook

On 24 May, the Egyptian documentary ‘The Brink of Dreams’ was awarded the L’Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) prize, the foremost honour for documentaries at the Cannes Film Festival’s 77th edition.

The documentary centres around a Coptic village in Upper Egypt, following the footsteps of a small group of young girls who rebel against restrictive societal norms by forming a street theatre troupe.

“Dreaming of becoming actresses, dancers or singers, they try to find their place, defying their families and the patriarchal traditions of their country,” the jury was quoted describing the film. “An almost ‘casual’ film, which allows us to see in its complexity the fight they lead to conquer their freedom and the turmoil that this fight causes around them.”

The film, directed by Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir, shared the reward with the South African documentary ‘Lost and Found’ by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Raoul Peck.

In an interview, Riyadh recalls meeting the group of girls during one of her visits to the village and becoming immersed in their initiative.

“From 2016 to 2019, I often travelled to Upper Egypt [to support feminist initiatives there]. Seeing the girls for the first time, I was drawn by their talent and passion…and in 2018 I took Ayman with me during a visit,” Riyadh explains.

The Brink of Dreams becomes the second successive Arab documentary to be honoured with the top award at Cannes.

The previous year, the Tunisian documentary film ‘Four Daughters’, starring Egyptian-Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, was given the L’Oeil d’Or while also being nominated for Le Palme d’Or (The Golden Palm) – the festival’s highest honour.

The L’Oeil d’Or is a collaborative award between the Cannes Film Festival and the French artistic organisation Scam.

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