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The Unknown Saint

Fall Grants 2017 - Production Stage

Alaa Eddine Aljem / Feature Narrative / Morocco, France, Qatar / 2019 / 80 min / Original Language: Arabic / Interests: Social Issues, Dark Comedy, Comedy, Drama


In this brilliantly comedic modern fable, debut feature director Alaa Eddine Aljem takes audiences on a deadpan desert caper with a subtle touch of absurdity. A thief has just stolen a considerably large bag of cash. With the cops hot on his heels, he acts quickly and buries his ill-gotten gains atop of a hill in the desert, fashioning a makeshift grave with rocks to help him identify the location later. Upon being released from prison, he returns to the spot only to discover that the local inhabitants have mistaken his hastily constructed hiding place as a miracle grave for a mysterious, albeit completely fictional saint.

An impressive shrine now covers the thief’s loot, and to his infinite surprise, there is even a whole new town that has sprung up nearby to support the legions of pilgrims who travel from far and wide to visit the mausoleum. Along with his dim-witted abettor, the thief settles into the village and begins plotting a way to break into the shrine. But with the loot now hidden in a holy place, retrieving it suddenly becomes much more complicated in this farcical and quirky satire on superstitions.


Alaa Eddine Aljem
Francesca Duca

About the Director

Alaa Eddine Aljem is a Moroccan screenwriter and director born in Rabat. He studied cinema at ESAVM and then at INSAS in Brussels. His latest short film, ‘The Desert Fishes’ won the Grand Prize, the Critics’ Prize, and the Screenplay Prize at the National Film Festival. In 2019, Alaa released his critically acclaimed first feature film, ‘The Unknown Saint, ' a burlesque fable that had its world premiere at Cannes Critics’ Week. The film was distributed in twenty countries and preselected for the Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Film. Alaa is currently working on his second feature, ‘Eldorado, the Taste of the South’.

Awards and Festival History


"Semaine de la Critique, Festival de Cannes 2019 (WP)
Karlovy Vary FF 2019
FID Marseille 2019, Opening Film
Sarajevo FF 2019
Busan IFF 2019
BFI London 2019
Cinema Mediterraneen de Bruxelles 2019
Marrakech IFF 2019
IFFR 2020, Bright Future


Best First Film Award, Tangier FF 2020


  • Main Contact

    Francesca Duca

    Le Moindre Geste
    +212 645-429087

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