The relationship between the Dardenne brothers and the Festival de Cannes is a long one. Three years after La Promesse (The Promise, 1996), the Festival de Cannes awarded the directors their first Palme d’or for Rosetta, with lead actor Émilie Dequenne also winning the Best Actress Award for her performance. In 2005, the brothers won their second Palme d’or for L'Enfant (The Child). They were awarded the Best Screenplay Award for Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna's Silence) in 2008, and scooped up the Grand Prix in 2011 for Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike).
Rattled by the terrorist attacks, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's new feature film delves into the complex character of Ahmed, an enigmatic 13-year-old boy who is determined to commit murder, spurred on by his religious convictions. Lured in by Youssouf, the imam at his local mosque, the teenager soon finds himself embroiled in religious fanaticism, and refuses to engage with the world like any other teenager his age.
Blinded by his puritanical ideals, Ahmed shuts himself away, cutting himself off from outside help, including that of his family and loved ones. Offering up an in-depth portrait of a boy in the throes of murderous madness, the film depicts his loved ones' vain attempts at making him see reason.
After having worked with a star-studded line-up of renowned actors (Adèle Haenel in La Fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl), in Competition in 2016 and Marion Cotillard in Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night) in Competition in 2014), the two directors felt an urge to work with non-professional actors in Le Jeune Ahmed (Young Ahmed). The film will be released in French cinemas from Wednesday 22 May.