Photo: Morgan Norman Photo: Morgan Norman

Tarik Saleh

Director, screenwriter and producer Tarik Saleh (b. 1972) got his start in the mid 1980s as one of Sweden’s most acclaimed graffiti artists. His mural Fascinate from 1989 is the first graffiti mural to be protected by the Swedish state as a cultural heritage, and is one of the world’s oldest existing graffiti paintings. Saleh then went on to work as art director and publisher. In 2001, he made his directorial debut with Sacrificio – Who betrayed Che Guevara? together with Erik Gandini. Saleh again teamed up with Gandini for Gitmo (2005), a documentary about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Both documentaries won several awards and sparked international debate. Saleh moved on to create the critically acclaimed Metropia (2009), a dystopian computer animated drama that landed him several prestigious awards and nominations, among them the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival.

The year 2017 saw the premiere of his latest feature film, The Nile Hilton Incident, which became a great success and was highly praised internationally, winning numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and ‘Best Film’ at the Guldbagge Awards.

Saleh runs, together with co-founders Kristina Åberg and Lars Rodvaldr, one of Sweden’s most innovative production companies: Atmo.

Furthermore, Saleh is episode director for HBO’s Westworld and Showtime’s Ray Donovan. In 2022 Saleh made his English-language film debut with The Contractor (2022), Thunder Road Film’s new action thriller starring Chris Pine.

Saleh’s new feature film, the psychological thriller Boy From Heaven, premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May 2022 and was awarded Best Screenplay as well as the prestigeous Prix François Chalais Award for his film’s “dedication to the values of life affirmation and of journalism”.

Awards

Cannes Film Festival (Best Screenplay) – Boy from Heaven 2022
Prix François Chalais – Boy from Heaven 2022
César Awards Nominee (Best Foreign Film) France – The Nile Hilton Incident 2018
Guldbagge Awards Nominee (Best Direction) Sweden – The Nile Hilton Incident 2018
Guldbagge Award (Best Film) Sweden – The Nile Hilton Incident 2018
Valladolid International Film Festival (Best Film) Spain – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Art Film Festival Nominee (Best Film) Slovakia – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Sundance Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize) US – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Valladolid International Film Festival (Best Screenplay) Spain – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Valladolid International Film Festival (Best Director) Spain – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Beaune International Thriller Film Festival (Le Grand Prix) France – The Nile Hilton Incident 2017
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Nominee (Best Feature) France – Metropia 2010
Nordic Council's Film Prize Nominee – Metropia 2010
Warsaw International Film Festival Nominee (Grand Prix) Poland – Metropia 2009
Catalonian International Film Festival Nominee (Best Film) – Metropia 2009
Stockholm Film Festival Nominee (Bronze Horse) Sweden – Metropia 2009
São Paulo International Film Festival Nominee (Best Feature Film) Brazil – Metropia 2009
Venice Film Festival (Future Film Festival Digital Award) Italy – Metropia 2009
Miami Film Festival (Special Mention) US – Gitmo 2006
Seattle International Film Festival (Best Documentary Award) US – Gitmo 2006
Prague One World Film Festival (Czech Radio Award - Special Citation) Czech Republic – Sacrificio: Who Betrayed Che Guevara 2002
Havana Film Festival (Coral) Cuba – Sacrificio: Who Betrayed Che Guevara 2001
Close award list

Filmography

Related news

‘Boy From Heaven’ selected as Sweden’s nomination for the Academy Awards

Today it was revealed that Tarik Saleh’s film Boy from Heaven is Sweden’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award. The official Academy Awards nominations will be announced on January 24, 2023.

Earlier this year, Boy from Heaven won the prestigious Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Boy from Heaven will be released at Swedish theatres on November 18.

‘Boy From Heaven’ wins Best Screenplay in Cannes

Tarik Saleh’s Boy from Heaven, the political thriller set in Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque about the fisherman boy Adam (Tawfeek Barhom) who is thrown into a brutal power struggle between Egypt’s religious and political elite, was awarded Best Screenplay by the jury at the 75th Cannes International Film Festival, as well as the prestigeous Prix François Chalais Award for his film’s “dedication to the values of life affirmation and of journalism”.

Fantastic reviews for Tarik Saleh’s ‘Boy From Heaven’

The psychological thriller Boy From Heaven, written and directed by Tarik Saleh, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week and has received great praise from international media.

Boy from Heaven shows a rare level of philosophical engagement with the subject, something that pays off beautifully in its articulate and nuanced last act. /…/ Saleh’s film works on many more levels than sociopolitical, delivering a sophisticated adult thriller while at the same time exploring the intense psychological dynamic of the relationship between Adam and Ibrahim, who might not be as invincible as thinks he is. It’s a strange fit for Cannes, but more festival slots surely will follow — and hopefully bigger projects for this smart, stylish director.”
Deadline (US)

Boy From Heaven marks another solid entry from writer-director Tarik Saleh, whose 2017 feature, The Nile Hilton Incident, put him on the map as a filmmaker deftly using genre to explore the tangled state of modern-day Egypt. /…/ An intriguingly damning portrait of the corruption currently hitting Egypt on all levels.”
Hollywood Reporter (US)

“Tarik Saleh’s superbly realised paranoid nightmare /…/ Now in an era when the Arab spring has arguably become a bittersweet memory, he has brought to the Cannes competition this watchable conspiracy espionage-drama satirising the corruption of church and state. There’s an intriguing mix of scorn and paranoia here, together with a yearning for individual figures of decency halfway down the food chain – it reminded me of John le Carré. /…/ A bold piece of work.”
The Guardian (UK)

“[A] satisfying thriller. /…/ Boy From Heaven is an ambitiously complex story of religious espionage. It was conceived as a Name Of The Rose-style mystery transposed to a Muslim world, but also has much in common with Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet in its backdrop of factions and power plays and in the trajectory of its central character, from innocent greenhorn negotiating a web of alliances to jaded, compromised survivor. There’s definite commercial potential here, as evidenced by the fact that it has already sold to Picturehouse in the UK. /…/ Boy From Heaven is a handsomely shot work, with Turkey doubling persuasively for Egypt. Widescreen shots capture the sober grandeur of the institution and the tumult of the streets outside; God’s eye camera positions offer glimpses of the covert meetings and calculated campaigns of a world which is driven by the schemes and whims of powerful men.”
Screen Daily (US)

Tarik Saleh’s ‘Boy From Heaven’ to compete in Cannes

Tarik Saleh’s new film, the psychological thriller Boy From Heaven, has been selected to the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Written and directed by Saleh, the film was shot in Cairo and is set in the University of Al-Azhar where young Adam finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy and power struggle. The film stars Tawfeek Barhom, Fares Fares and Sherwan Haji.

The 75th Cannes Film Festival takes place May 17–28, 2022.

‘The Contractor’ US premiere

Tarik Saleh’s new movie The Contractor premieres today in US theatres.

Starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster, The Contractor tells the story of discharged U.S. Special Forces sergeant James Harper (Pine) who joins a private contracting organization alongside his best friend (Foster) and under the command of a fellow veteran in order to support his family. Overseas on a covert mission, Harper must evade those trying to kill him while making his way back home.

Written by J.P. Davis, the movie also stars Gillian Jacobs, Eddie Marsan, Florian Munteanu and Kiefer Sutherland.

Tarik Saleh the director of ‘Violence of Action’

Tarik Saleh is the director of Thunder Road Films’ new action thriller, Violence of Action. The film sees Chris Pine in the lead role as James Harper who, after being involuntarily discharged from the Green Berets, joins a paramilitary organization in order to support his family in the only way he knows how. Harper travels to Berlin with his elite team on a black ops mission to investigate a mysterious threat. Barely into his first assignment, he finds himself alone and hunted across Europe, where he must fight to stay alive long enough to return home and uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him.

Chris Pine is joined by actors Ben Foster (Hell or High Water) and Gillian Jacobs (Community), and the script is written by J.P. Davis. The film has begun principal photography in the US, Germany and Romania.

Read more in Deadline Hollywood by clicking “Read More” below.

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Photo: Morgan Norman

Tarik Saleh joins Salomonsson Agency

Director, screenwriter and producer Tarik Saleh’s stylish films often explore controversial subjects and show no hesitation in portraying the polarities and conflicts in society. 2017 saw the premiere of his latest feature film, The Nile Hilton Incident, which became a great success and was highly praised internationally, winning numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and ‘Best Film’ at the Guldbagge Awards.

Most recently, Saleh directed an episode for HBO’s Westworld and an episode for Showtime’s Ray Donovan. Saleh is currently attached to helm The Red Circle, a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic 1970 cat-and-mouse thriller. Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) has written the script.