One of the more unexpected delights to emerge at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival was “The Blue Caftan,” Maryam Touzani’s sophomore feature about a love triangle between a Moroccan dressmaker, his dying wife, and his young male apprentice. The film, which premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, went on to become Morocco’s official submission for Best International Feature at the 95th Academy Awards. It was one of the 15 films selected for the Academy’s shortlist, and could be well-positioned to be a dark horse Oscar contender in a particularly strong year for LGBTQ love stories set in oppressive countries (see also: “Joyland”).
The official synopsis for “The Blue Caftan” reads: “Halim and Mina run a traditional caftan store in one of Morocco’s oldest medinas. In order to keep up with the commands of the demanding customers, they hire Youssef. The talented apprentice shows an utmost dedication in learning the art of embroidery and tailoring from Halim. Slowly Mina realizes how much her husband is moved by the presence of the young man.”
The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews out of Cannes, with critics praising Touzani’s nuanced approach to the realities of marriage. In my IndieWire review of the film, I wrote that: “’The Blue Caftan’ is a film about the many different kinds of love — romantic, platonic, familial, sexual — and the ways they can’t help but intersect at complicated moments in our lives. But even more than that, it’s a film about people who find themselves sandblasted by reality. The harshness of this world strips away the facades they spent a lifetime cultivating. In their most vulnerable moments, when there’s nothing to hide, Touzani displays her characters’ true selves with an attention to detail that would make Halim proud. And it’s nice, for a change, that a film reveals its characters were all far better people than they would have had us believe.”
Strand Releasing is set to open “The Blue Caftan” at the Film Forum in New York City and Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on Friday, February 10, with additional markets to follow. Watch the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below.