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DIFF Cancels Screening of Egyptian Film 'The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller'

The Dubai International Film Festival committee has announced the cancellation of the much anticipated screening of the Ahmed Roshy-directed Egyptian animated short 'The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller' without offering an explanation. The screening would have qualified the film for an Oscar nomination.

The much-anticipated premiere of The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller at the Dubai International Film Festival was cancelled abruptly, reports Mada Masr.

No explanation was offered as to why the screening was cancelled, except a scant statement announcing the news saying that "they have been unable to screen the movie due to unforeseen circumstances."  

The short film's director, Ahmed Roshdy, wasn't able to offer an explanation for the cancellation either, saying it caught him off guard. “We are trying to find out what the real reasons behind the pulling of the movie are. [...] We were only informed that it would be cancelled around 24 hours before it was due to be screened,” Roshdy told Mada Masr.

He wouldn't comment on the validity of speculation that the decision was politically motivated due to the controversial subject matter of the animated short film, which is based on the story of Omar Salah, a young sweet potato vendor who was shot dead by a police officer. According to Roshdy, the film “only partially touches upon, but does not focus on the story of Omar Salah. It focuses rather on the story of a fictional artist, Khaled, who seeks justice.”

The DIFF screening would have qualified The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller for an Oscar nomination.