The revolt sweeping across the Middle East these last couple of years will figure highly at the Cannes Festival, and it’s no coincidence.

“The Sermon at Tobrouk,” a documentary by French philosopher Bernard-Henri “B.H.L.” Lévy (pictured below in Libya in September 2011) shot over the final eight months which led to the downfall of Kaddafi will be shown as a special screening. Levy follows four people in Libya, Paris, London and New York as they attempt to square a state’s violent response against its citizens by turning revolt into revolution. “Sermon” was adapted from a book by Lévy.

Bernard Henri Levy

Bernard Henri-Lévy in Libya, September 2011 (Eric Feferberg, AFP)

Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah will present, in competition, a feature film called “After the Battle” (our featured image is a still from the movie) based on the events which culminated on Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year. Nasrallah was present during the events, videocamera in hand, and contributing the resulting footage as part of a collective documentary film shown last year in Cannes. He used the upheavals as inspiration to write “Battle,” in which a demonstrator becomes linked with one of Moubarak’s guards.

That “Sermon” and “After the battle” are being shown at Cannes (several other films and documentaries on the topic of revolution are also included this year is no coincidence: Thierry Frémaux and Gilles Jacob (the festival’s programmer and president, respectively) are not ones to shy away from giving the day’s helping of human misery center stage; as organizers of the second most mediatized event in the world, theirs is a compassionate gesture which should be heeded.

Screen Comment will be tweeting from the Cannes Festival starting May 15th.

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