‘Samouni Road’ Wins L’Œil d’or at Cannes

Samouni Road

By Pat Mullen

The jury has spoken! Samouni Road is this year’s winner of the L‘Œil d’or, the documentary prize of the Cannes Film Festival. The Italian doc, directed by Stefano Savona, premiered in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs sidebar of the festival. The news comes via French outlets Écran total and Écran noir.

Samouni Road offers a story of celebration in a rural community in the outskirts of Gaza City as a family prepares for a wedding and finds a moment to heal and move forward after the war. The film won out of 17 documentaries in competition. Honourable mentions went to Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles and Michel Toesca’s Libre.

The jury for this year’s award was presided over by French director Emmanuel Finkiel. Upon awarding the prize, the jury praised Samouni Road and Savona “for the intelligence of his approach, the right distance of its point of view, the delicacy of his glance, the brilliant and subtle use of animation and the strength of his narrative structure, all of which contribute to plunged [them] into exceptional proximity with beings caught in the unbearable reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Variety offered a rave review of Samouni Road, saying the film is “destined to become a touchstone in the cinematic representation of the Strip.”

Now in its fourth year, the L‘Œil d’or strives to recognize documentary at a festival that has long been criticized for failing to give the art form its due. Previous winners of the award include Faces Places and Cinema Novo.

Watch some clips from Samouni Road below: