October 1, 2023


Gala opening at the Stockholm International Film Festival 2022/ Tarik Saleh Boy from Heaven

3 min read

The Stockholm International Film Festival shows 130 films from 50 different countries, 13 of which have been submitted for the best international film at the Academy Awards. SIFF presented the Nordic premiere of director Tarik Saleh’s Boy from Heaven, which premiered at the 2022 Cannes main competition and was awarded the Best script.

The Film Festival’s director Git Scheynius gave a beautiful welcoming speech. “Boy from Heaven” and the movie’s leading actor, Fares Fares, and director, Tarik Saleh, together with the Minister of Culture Parisa Liljestrand had the honor of cutting the famous film strip to officially inaugurate this year’s Stockholm Film Festival. Ukraine is this year’s focus country. Git Scheynius‘ speech was followed by a message from Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, who thanked the Stockholm Film Festival for aiming the spotlight on Ukraine’s cinema.

photos by Halina Bartoszek

The fisherman boy Adam is offered the almost unattainable opportunity to study at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the absolute power center of the Sunni Muslims in the world. Shortly after his arrival in the city, he is involuntarily thrown into a brutal power struggle between modern-day Egypt’s religious and political elite. This nerve-wracking original spy drama portrays an environment rarely seen on the big screen and has the audience on edge.


Tarik Saleh’s grandfather went to this University itself. Education was something very charged in his family because as any child of an immigrant he has been reminded every day that he is standing on the shoulders of his grandparents. The story is very moving because his grandfather and grandmother in the 30s of Egypt were living in small villages in the Nile Delta and they got educated in them. And they were in love, and they moved to a city and his grandmother got the certificate from the king. So she could work as a married woman. It was revolutionary in those days. She was a teacher, and he was a teacher too. The government sent them to the Manzala. This fishing Village where, in the film, his grandfather had studied Al-Azhar both of them knew the Quran by heart. So they knew the whole book, which is kind of insane to think you can learn that. H.B

when I walked up the red carpet, I felt like, you know, I can’t talk about it because I start to cry, I wouldn’t walk there if my grandparents haven’t taken that walk. Tarik Saleh

Actors: Tawfeek Barhom, Younes Medhat, Fares Fares, Mohammad Bakri, Makram J. Khoury, Mehdi Dehbi, Sherwan Haji.

Director and scriptwriter Tarik Saleh (born in 1972) started as one of the top graffiti artists in Stockholm in the ’80s. He directed and wrote the screenplay for THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT won ‘The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2017, received a Guldbagge Award for ‘Best film’ in 2018, was nominated as ‘Best Foreign Film at the César Awards, and was a box office hit with more than 400 thousand tickets sold in France. He also directed the Hollywood film THE CONTRACTOR (2022), several episodes of the futuristic HBO series WESTWORLD (2018), and TOMMY (2014) with Ola Rapace, Moa Gammel, and singer-songwriter Lykke Li for whom he also directed the music video I FOLLOW RIVERS that has more than 80 million views on YouTube. His film debut came with METROPIA (2009), a dystopic animation with Stellan Skarsgård, Juliette Lewis, Vincent Gallo, and Udo Kier. The film premiered at Venice Film Festival as the opening film for Critics’ Week. Tarik Saleh also directed the documentaries GITMO: THE NEW RULES OF WAR (2005) and SACRIFICIO: WHO BETRAYED CHE GUEVARA (2001) together with Erik Gandini. He is one of the founders of Atmo. More than 20 years ago, Atmo started out as a network of friends producing TV and documentaries. It has been years filled with excitement, struggle, and success. Today, Atmo is a professional film production company, driven by creatives. They do full-length films, shorts, infomercials, and music videos.  They are always working hard to be on the cutting edge, looking for new methods, new styles, and stories worth to be told. In their productions, they often comment on our time and society with a twist of humor, often addressing a global audience. 


Films directed by Tarik Saleh 

Boy from Heaven, The Nile Hilton Incident, Tommy, Metropia 

Halina Bartoszek Rosa

06.11.2022 Stockholm

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