Dardenne brothers explore radicalization and redemption in Cannes

72nd Cannes Film Festival – News conference for the film “Le jeune Ahmed” (Young Ahmed) in competition – Cannes, France, May 21, 2019. Directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne arrive. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

CANNES, France (Reuters) – Cannes regulars the Dardenne brothers said on Tuesday they were driven to explore the sensitive subject of radicalization 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.

    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.

Editing by Sarah White and Alexandra Hudson

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