15 films picked for Cannes workshop

Program helps projects complete financing

Zhang Yuan’s “Executioner Garden,” Faouzi Bensaidi’s “Death For Sale” and Diego Lerman’s “Moral Sciences” are among the 15 projects selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s production workshop.

The fifth edition of the workshop, known as the Cinefondation Atelier, runs May 15-22. Its organizers arrange networking opportunities for projects’ directors and producers to help them complete financing for their projects.

“Garden,” from China’s Yuan (“Dada’s Dance”) is a reportedly creepy prison-set drama. Bensaidi (“WWW — What a Wonderful World”) again genre blends with “Death,” a heist-meets-social issue pic. Argentine Diego Lerman’s “Sciences,” about a sexually-repressed school monitor, won a 2009 Sundance/NHK Intl. Filmmakers Award.

“A notable number of projects this year turn on sexuality,” said Cinefondation director Georges Goldenstern.

“40 Days of Silence,” from Uzbekistan’s Saodat Ismailova, explores female power in childbirth and sex; Portuguese Hugo Vieira da Silva’s “Red Cross,” is a Berlin-set coming of ager.

Lebanese-born helmer Danielle Arbid (“In the Battlefields”) charts a passionate Beirut-set affair in “Chambres d’hotel,” while Pole Malgoska Szumowska will bring “Sponsoring,” a study of student prostitution.

Two U.S. filmmakers made the Atelier cut: Jake Mahaffy (“Wellness), with religious redemption drama “Free In Deed,” and Caran Hartsfield with “Bury Me Standing, a comedic drama set in a Philadelphia hood.

The Atelier will feature three feature film debuts: “Standing”; the Taipei-set Filipino migrant tale “Pinoy Sunday,” from Malaysia’s Ho Wi Ding, and Betrand Mandico’s “The Man Who Hides the Forest,” about a filmmaker’s crazed expedition into the depths of Siberia.

South African John Barker will be pitching “The Umbrella Man,” about a minstrel carnival, and Egyptian Atef Hetata brings “Oblivion,” a Cairo-set portrait of the pursuit of money and virility.

Rounding up the selection are Andrea Segre’s “Shun Li and the Poet,” which won Rome Festival’s European Project Prize for its original take on immigration, and Turk Seyfi Teoman’s “Our Grand Despair,” a male friendship drama adapting Baris Bicakci’s novel.

The Atelier boasts a high success rate: nine of last year’s 15 projects are now completed, according to Goldenstern.

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