On the first day back after the summer holidays, the grand Imam collapses and dies in front of his students in a prestigious university in Cairo. This marks the start of a ruthless battle for influence to take his place.
“Your soul is still pure. But every second in this place will corrupt it.”
Boy From Heaven is the newest International Feature submission from Sweden. Directed by Tarik Saleh, we are quickly introduced to Al-Azhar, which was founded in 972 by the Fatimids and has become the centre of Islamic learning. The Grand Imam is the highest authority in Sunni Islam. The rulers of Egypt have tried to control Al-Azhar but they have failed.
Adam, played brilliantly by Tawfeek Barhom, lives in the small village in Manzala. His father is a fisherman and Adam helps him every morning. Adam also prays in his local mosque daily. One day he receives a letter stating that he’s been accepted to study at Al-Azhar University. And he goes there immediately.
Adam quickly learns the ins and outs of the university. He makes friends with his bunkmate and he’s enjoying his time studying and praying. But when the Grand Imam dies suddenly his world changes instantly.
The Grand Imam is appointed for life, so the task of choosing someone new is critical, both for the state security and for the church leaders. The problem is that both parties want to elect someone different. Al-Azhar and the state should never be in conflict or else it could lead to a civil war. Adam, unknowingly at first, is thrust into this world of power and hypocrisy within the organizations.
Director Saleh has created a film that is told with great control. At times it’s hard to understand exactly the politics that are happening in Adam’s world, but that’s the whole point. We are part of Adam’s mind as he struggles to figure out what everyone wants from him. One of the best things about film is getting a glimpse into a world we know nothing about and because of Saleh’s brave, bold film we feel like we’ve become a part of Al-Azhar.
The film is about a man’s wish to become an Islamic scholar. He doesn’t get that at Al-Azhar but he also learns that he doesn’t need to be in the beacon of the Islam world to be a man of God. This is what Adam discovers by the end of his time at the university. He can be the exact same person in his small town in Manzala, as he can in Cairo. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s who you want to be and Adam is a pure-hearted Man from Heaven.