Deauville competition nabs top films

U.S. indies gain exposure with seaside showcase

In recent years, the American Film Festival of Deauville has shown that it’s just not enough to be seen, or seen to be seen, in this beautiful seaside town, it’s also well worth walking away with a prize.

Last year’s competition winner, “The Visitor,” went from being a pic that no one in Gaul had heard anything about to the little indie that could, selling more than 230,000 tickets at the French box office.

It was the same story, only bigger, in 2006 when “Little Miss Sunshine” took the top prize and subsequently sold more than 1 million French tickets.

With these kinds of stats, Deauville’s competition is now able to attract the very best U.S. independent movies.

Overseeing the selection since the competition’s inception in 1995 is Bruno Barde, the festival’s artistic director, who settled on this year’s nine competition entries after watching well over a hundred films, many of them from Sundance.

This year’s competition is notable for the number of films directed by Americans with diverse ethnic origins.

There is “Cold Souls” from first-time French-born director Sophie Barthes; “Harrison Montgomery” from another first-time helmer, Daniel Davilla, who has Latino roots; “Sin nombre” by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who has a Japanese father and Swedish mother and whose film is in Spanish; “The Killing Room” from South African-born Jonathan Liebesman; “The Good Heart” from Icelandic helmer Dagur Kari, who is working in English for the first time; and “The Messenger” from Israeli-born Oren Moverman.

“The intelligence of America has always been to integrate the cultures which make up its diversity,” says Barde, alluding to the European roots of U.S. directors like Elia Kazan and Billy Wilder. “I’m quite sure that among this new wave of filmmakers who have a foreign heritage will be the future greats of American cinema.”

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