Cannes Film Festival 2021: Arab filmmakers Kaouther Ben Hania and Sameh Alaa join the short film jury

The two directors are among a total of six selected for this year's event

Arab filmmakers Kaouther Ben Hania, left, and Sameh Alaa join the short film jury for Cannes Film Festival 2021. La Biennale di Venezia, Getty Images
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The jury for the Short Films and Cinefondation competitions at Cannes Film Festival 2021, which will take place next month, has been announced, and it includes Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania and Egyptian director Sameh Alaa.

The jury is made up of three women and three men, with no president, and they will be awarding the Short Film Palme d’Or to one of the 10 shortlisted projects, as well as the three Cinefondation prizes to the best of the 17 selected films from the school’s students.

Other jury members include Spanish filmmaker and teacher Carlos Muguiro, Swedish director, writer and actress Tuva Novotny, plus Nicolas Pariser and Alice Winocour, both writers and directors from France.

L'Homme qui avait vendu sa peau / The Man Who Sold His Skin. *NO CREDITS*
A scene from 'The Man Who Sold His Skin' by Kaouther Ben Hania.

For this year's festival, which will run from Tuesday, July 6 to Saturday, July 17, the selection committee viewed a total of 3,739 short films, with 10 shortlisted from Brazil, Denmark, China, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Portugal and, for the first time, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

The 14-minute Iran entry is called Orthodontics, by Mohammadreza Mayghani.

Ben Hania made international headlines this year when her film The Man Who Sold his Skin was nominated for an Oscar, competing in the International Feature Film category, but ultimately losing out to Another Round from Denmark.

The Man Who Sold His Skin, which stars Yahya Mahayni, follows the story of a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, who agrees to have his back tattooed by a famous artist in the hopes of joining his partner in Paris.

The story is inspired by real-life events, Ben Hania told The National last year. In 2006, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye tattooed the back of Tim Steiner, a former studio owner from Zurich. The living artwork was sold to a collector and Steiner agreed to have his back skinned after his death, so the owner could hang the piece.

“The original work of art was just a starting point,” said Ben Hania. “Many movies start with an image, then you have to have a story with an emotional journey.”

Alaa last year scooped the top prize Cannes with I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face, which won the Best Short Film Palme D'Or.

His tale of a young man undertaking a treacherous journey to be reunited with his love has picked up a clutch of awards on its festival journey so far, and it was the first Egyptian short to be nominated and to win the top Cannes prize.

It heads to Palm Springs International Shortfest next, where it will compete for the Best of the Festival Award and Young Cineastes Award.