Cannes Film Festival 2023 Prizes: African Films Win Big in Parallels –

And so the curtain closes on another edition. After 11 days in the south of France, the Jury of the 76th Festival de Cannes, chaired by Swedish director Ruben Östlund, flanked by Moroccan director Maryam Touzani, French actor Denis Ménochet, British-Zambian screenwriter and director Rungano Nyoni, American actress and director Brie Larson, American actor and director Paul Dano, Afghan author Atiq Rahimi, Argentinian director and screenwriter Damián Szifron, and French director Julia Ducournau, presented its winners’ list among the 21 films presented in Competition this year.

Immediately following are the feature films telling African stories (anywhere in the world), showcased at the 2023 festival, across various categories and parallels. Films that received awards during the festival are HIGHLIGHTED IN RED.


LES FILLES D’OLFA (FOUR DAUGHTERS, Tunisia) — The Golden Eye, Documentary Prize (Tied with Morocco’s KADIB ABYAD, or THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES )

  • A documentary film that mixes fiction and reality to explore the life stories of a Tunisian mother and her four daughters, two of whom disappeared after joining the Islamic State in Libya.
  • Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania, who was nominated for an Oscar for her previous film “The Man Who Sold His Skin.”
  • An international co-production between France, Tunisia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
  • The second participation of a Tunisian production in the Cannes main competition since 1970.


  • A romantic drama film that follows a young couple in their late teens who live in a remote village in northern Senegal and decide to live separately from their families so that they can be together.
  • Directed by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a Senegalese screenwriter who makes her feature film debut with this film.
  • A co-production between France, Mali, and Senegal.
  • Our review.

LE RETOUR (France)

  • A drama film that tells the story of Kheìdidja, a woman of “African origin” (the country isn’t specified) who travels to Corsica with her two daughters to take care of the children of a wealthy Parisian family for the summer. It is an opportunity for them to rediscover the island they left fifteen years ago following a tragedy.
  • Co-written and directed by Catherine Corsini, a French filmmaker who has directed several films such as “La Belle Saison” and “An Impossible Love.”
  • Produced by Chaz Productions, France 3 Cinéma and Le Pacte.
  • Controversial due to a scene depicting masturbation involving a minor actress that was not authorized by the authorities and led to the withdrawal of financial support from the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée. The scene was later cut from the film. Also accused of sexual assault on set in anonymous letters.
  • Our review.


Focused on arthouse, artistically daring films, the 2023 Un Certain Regard selection included 20 feature films — 8 of which are first features also competing for the Caméra d’Or. The Jury is chaired by American actor John C. Reilly and includes French director and screenwriter Alice Winocour, German actress Paula Beer, French-Cambodian director and producer Davy Chou, and Belgian actress Émilie Dequenne.

GOODBYE JULIA (Sudan) — The Freedom Prize

  • A drama film that depicts the complicated relationship between two women, one from the North and one from the South, who represent the differences between northern and southern Sudanese communities. It takes place in Khartoum during the last years of Sudan as a united country, shortly before the 2011 separation of South Sudan.
  • Directed by Mohamed Kordofani, a Sudanese filmmaker who lives in Bahrain and works as an aviation engineer. It is his first feature film and the first film from Sudan ever to be presented in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.
  • An international co-production between Sudan, Egypt, Germany, France, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Our review.

KADIB ABYAD (THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES, Morocco) — The Directing Prize


The Golden Eye, Documentary Prize (Tied with Tunisia’s LES FILLES D’OLFA, or FOUR DAUGHTERS)

  • A documentary film that explores the director’s family history in Casablanca and reflects on the 1981 Bread Riots that shook Morocco.
  • Directed by Asmae El Moudir, a Moroccan filmmaker who graduated from La Fémis in Paris. It is her first feature-length documentary.
  • Produced by Barney Production, Mont Fleuri Production, and Niko Films.

OMEN (AUGURE, DRC) — The New Voice Prize

  • An ensemble film about four people accused of being witches and sorcerers. Despite their misfortune, they find a way to guide each other away from their socially imposed destinies and into the phantasmagoria of Africa.
  • Directed by Baloji, a Belgian-Congolese rapper and artist who makes his feature film debut with this film.
  • A co-production between Belgium, France, and Congo.
  • Our review.

SALEM (France)

  • It is a drama film that follows a former gang member who believes his daughter is the only one who can save his community from an apocalyptic curse uttered by a rival gang member in his dying breath123.
  • It is directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin, who also co-wrote the film with Olivier Marboeuf.
  • It is produced by Unité and Vatos Locos Productions, and co-produced by WBI. The international sales are handled by Goodfellas.
  • Our review.

LES MEUTES (THE HOUNDS, Morocco) — The Jury’s Prize

  • A crime thriller film that follows a father and son who are small-time crooks in Casablanca’s criminal underworld. When a kidnapping goes wrong, they are stuck with a body to dispose of and have to face the consequences of their actions.
  • Directed by Kamal Lazraq, a Moroccan filmmaker who studied at La Fémis in Paris and directed several short films such as Traitors and The Trap. It is his first feature film.
  • Produced by Barney Production, Mont Fleuri Production, Beluga Tree, and Entre Chien et Loup. 



  • It is a drama film that tells the story of Omar, a notorious criminal who is forced to flee to Algeria with his loyal partner Roger, and their struggle to adapt to their new life after dominating the French underworld for decades.
  • It is the first feature film directed by Elias Belkeddar, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jérôme Pierrat.
  • It is produced by StudioCanal and distributed by Alter Ego Production.


DÉSERTS (Morocco)

  • It is a comedy film that follows the adventures of Mehdi and Hamid, two friends who work for a debt collection agency and are sent to the Moroccan Sahara to track down some bad payers.
  • It is the fourth feature film directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi, who also wrote the screenplay.
  • It is produced by Barney Production and co-produced by Les Films du Nouveau Monde, Agora Films and Les Films de l’Après-Midi.
  • Our review.


  • It is a documentary film that portrays the life of Mambar Pierrette, a seamstress, and mother in Douala, Cameroon, who faces the challenges of rain, preparing for the start of the school year and family life.
  • It is directed by Rosine Mbakam, who also produced the film through her company Tândor Productions.
  • Our review.


MACHTAT (Tunisia)

  • It is a documentary film that depicts the lives of Fatma and her daughters, Najeh and Waffeh, who work as “machtat”, traditional wedding musicians, in Mahdia, Tunisia.
  • It is directed by Sonia Ben Slama, who also wrote the film.
  • It is produced by Alter Ego Production and co-produced by Les Films du Tambour de Soie and Cinétéléfilms.

NOME (Guinea-Bissau)

  • It is a drama film that depicts the life of Nome, a former guerrilla fighter who returns to his village in Guinea-Bissau after years of war against the Portuguese colonial army.
  • It is directed by Sana Na N’Hada, who also co-wrote the film with Virgílio Almeida and Olivier Marboeuf.
  • It is produced by Spectre Production and co-produced by LX Filmes, Geba Filmes, and Geração 80.


AMA GLORIA (Cape Verde)

  • Six-year-old Cléo loves her nanny Gloria more than anything. When Gloria must return to Cape Verde to care for her own children, the two must make the most of their last summer together.
  • It is directed by Marie Amachoukeli who also wrote the screenplay.
  • It is produced by Spectre Production and co-produced by Les Films du Nouveau Monde and Agora Films.
  • Our review.

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