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Dardenne brothers explore radicalization and redemption in Cannes

Johnny Cotton


Cannes, France  /  Thu, May 23, 2019  /  06:08 am
Dardenne brothers explore radicalization and redemption in Cannes

Directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne and cast members Idir Ben Addi and Victoria Bluck pose at the photocall for the film 'Le jeune Ahmed' (Young Ahmed) in competition in the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 21, 2019. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

Cannes regulars the Dardenne brothers said on Tuesday they were driven to explore the sensitive subject of radicalisation in their latest film after a wave of attacks in recent years, including those by Islamist militants.

Young Ahmed is the latest movie by the Belgian filmmaking duo, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who have already won the film festival's top Palme d'Or award twice.

It follows an adolescent boy, 13-year-old Ahmed, who is manipulated by an imam at a small mosque and ends up attempting to stab his teacher. Part of the film was shot in a real young offenders institute.

"It's in the context of all these attacks which we have witnessed in Europe, in the United States, but also in Sri Lanka, the Middle East," Luc Dardenne told a news conference following the film's premiere.

Read also: Catherine Deneuve's new film explores Islamist radicalization

The brothers said they chose to tell the story through the eyes of a young boy, who also has to navigate a sexual awakening and an angsty relationship with his mother, to keep the audience onside, in a tale that also seeks to explore his possible redemption.

"The film isn't a courtroom, the film is not an act of accusation. Our mission from the beginning was to see how this young Ahmed could - or couldn't - be brought back towards life," Jean-Pierre Dardenne said.

The Cannes Film Festival runs until May 25.

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