Perhaps it was 9/11; perhaps it was Tahrir Square. But for reasons ranging from the war against terror to the uprising for democracy, the Islamic world has become increasingly relevant to the rest of the globe over the last decade.
And as debates continue over the bans on burqas and the politics of beards, the Arab world is coming to terms with events and movements from the Eighties and Nineties - the Bosnian War, Turkish nationalism, and the seeds of terrorism that would sweep across the Middle East and South Asia, to eventually envelope Africa.
The issues facing the countries that broadly make up the "Islamic world" are by no means homogenous - in some, progressive people are trying to set up new regimes that will vindicate the sacrifices they have made; in others, the religious-minded are fighting for space in a modernising world whose systems could consume their faith.
In others, victims of instability and outrage are trying to make peace with the ghosts; in still others, a group of people believe they have the responsibility of cleansing the society and purging it of what they consider evil; in yet others, governments are claiming they can integrate militants into civil society.
At the Cannes Film Festival 2012, four films from this part of the world stood out for the sensitivity with which they explored what lies beneath the restive movements -
Baad El Mawkeaa (After the Battle) by Yousry Nasrallah, set in the nucleus of the Arab Spring, Egypt.
Horses of God, by Nabil Ayouch, set in Morocco.
The Repentant, by Merzak Allouache, set in Algeria.
Djeca (Children of Sarajevo), set in Bosnia, by Aida Begic.
Image: Poeple gather on December 17, 2011 in Sidi Bouzid's Mohamed Bouazizi square, named after the fruitseller whose self-immolation sparked the revolution that ousted a dictator and ignited the Arab Spring.