Tarik Saleh deftly explores the tangled state of modern-day Egypt through his firebrand thriller set in Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the country’s most respected religious teaching institution.
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Spy thriller and coming-of-age narrative deftly combine in this sinuous, Cairo-set exploration of political and religious corruption by Tarik Saleh (The Nile Hilton Incident, NZIFF 2017), who received Best Screenplay at Cannes 2022.
When Adam, the humble son of a fisherman, is awarded a state sponsorship to study at the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the epicentre of power of Sunni Islam, he imagines his life set on a path of learning. However, his apprenticeship will be of an entirely different nature as he becomes entangled in the institution’s back-door dealings and shady manoeuvrings. Will he be a pawn, victim, or kingmaker? — Sandra Reid
“A handsomely shot work, with Turkey doubling persuasively for Egypt (Saleh was placed on a list of undesirables in 2015 and risks arrest if he sets foot in Egypt)… Boy from Heaven is an ambitiously complex story of religious espionage. It was conceived as a Name of the Rose-style mystery transposed to a Muslim world, but also has much in common with Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (NZIFF 2010) in its backdrop of factions and power plays and in the trajectory of its central character, from innocent greenhorn negotiating a web of alliances to jaded, compromised survivor.” — Wendy Ide, Screendaily