Even in France, financiers wouldn't back producer Claude Kunetz's plan to let Abdellah Taïa adapt and direct his novel Salvation Army, possibly out of anti-Arab, anti-North African prejudice or possibly because the first 40 minutes are about a fifteen-year-old boy who has sex with older men. Finally they received modest funding, and got Claire Denis's star cinematographer Agnes Godard, and finished the 80-minute movie in time to screen at Venice and Toronto. Thursday night it had its US premiere at the Palm Springs Film Festival (with one more screening tomorrow at the Regal 9 at 12:30pm.) The Hollywood Reporter liked the "authentic" first half and disliked the confusing second half in Geneva. Variety complained of the entire movie's "airlessness," saying, Taïa "botches his adaptation of his own excellent novel, translated here with a distancing coldness not helped by emotionless perfs." But the critic does steer viewers seeking gay Arab films to Maher Sabry’s All My Life and Samer Daboul’s Out Loud.
Salvation Army will be released in France later this year and will screen at festivals in Reykjavik, Namur, Sao Paulo, Geneva, and beyond. The novelist says his "dream was always to become one day a filmmaker" and he will continue to make movies.