Two Moroccan men lean in close to each other to have an intimate conversation.
Image Credit: ‘The Blue Caftan,’ Strand Releasing

Awards season is in full swing as films and stars make their play for Oscar nominations. And while most of the competitors have already hit theaters, there are plenty of smaller, indie, and international features yet to receive a wider release that are well worth your attention.

One such movie is The Blue Caftan, a Moroccan queer love story that wowed audiences last year at the Cannes Film Festival and now finds itself on the Academy Awards’ shortlist for Best International Feature.

From celebrated filmmaker Maryam Touzani, The Blue Caftan spins the story of married couple Halim (Saleh Bakri, The Band’s Visit) and Mina (Lubna Azabal, Incendies) who run a traditional caftan shop in one of Morocco’s oldest city centers.

Related: The 16 LGBTQ+ movies we’re most looking forward to in 2023

To cater to a demanding clientele, the pair decides to hire on a handsome young assistant named Youssef (newcomer Ayoub Messioui), who takes an interest in the traditional art of tailoring and embroidery. And, surprising even himself, Halim discovers he‘s taken an interest in the new apprentice.

With Mina’s health in decline, Halim finds himself drawn to Youssef more and more, and the pair’s bond grows intimate. But Mina gradually catches on as the longing glances between the men become more frequent, which threatens to unspool their years-long relationship—and the business that’s become their livelihood.

Three Moroccan people—two men and a woman—look happily upon a blue caftan dress they made.
Image Credit: ‘The Blue Caftan,’ Strand Releasing

The Blue Caftan is a tender and heart-wrenching examination of this complex relationship triangle. And, considering Morocco’s restrictive anti-LGBTQ+ laws (homosexuality is criminal offense, punishable by up to three years in prison), the queer narrative at the film’s heart feels all the more rare and valuable.

In The Hollywood Reporter‘s Cannes dispatch last spring, writer David Rooney calls the film “a slow-burn yet richly emotional drama should land attention by virtue of the relative paucity of queer films in Maghreb cinema alone.” Rooney goes on to praise all three lead performances, calling it “a film of overwhelming tenderness.”

After sweeping the international film festival circuit in 2022, The Blue Caftan is headed to an official U.S. release on February 10, courtesy of queer film specialty distributor Strand Releasing.

You can watch the film’s official trailer below, and keep your eyes peeled Oscar nomination morning (January 24) to see if The Blue Caftan makes the final cut:

Related: The “highly objectionable” queer romance that was nearly banned in Pakistan finally hits theaters

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