Southern Hemisphere has its day in Cannes sun

Argentine Hernan Belon, Benin-born Idrissou Mora Kpai and West African rap artist Didier Awadi are among 12 directors selected for Cannes’ Les Cinemas du Monde Factory.

Godfathered by Argentina’s Pablo Trapero and Elsa Zylberstein, and highlighting emerging young Southern Hemisphere talent, the third Cinemas du Monde Pavilion opened its doors Thursday.

Belon caught attention with debut “In the Open,” a rural-set portrait of a mother’s existential crisis. At Cannes, he presents “Blood in the Mouth,” about a sado-masochistic relationship between male and female boxers.

Now presenting documentary “Indochine, Traces of a Mother,” Mora Kpai had docu “Arlit, Second Paris” in 2005′s Berlin Forum. Awadi’s “The Lion’s Point of View,” shown in rough cut to buyers, is a revisionist docu vision of Africa’s problems.

The Factory features multiple first-time directors: Tunisia’s Walid Tayaa’s ironic social drama “Fataria, sommet Arabe”; Moroccan Mohamed Achaour’s “Un film”; Brazilian Gustavo Melo’s soccer drama “1994″; and Egyptian Ayten Amin’s “69 Messaha Square,” a human comedy about facing death.

India’s Gitanjali Rao, unveiling buzzed-about toon project “Girgit,” about villagers immigrating to Bombay, won the short film Kodak Discovery Award at Cannes 2006 Critics’ Week. Senegal’s Hubert Laba Ndao explores new themes in “Sidewalks of Dakar,” a love story on the mean streets of the city.

Other entrants are docu “Ashes of Pardon,” from Catalonia-based Gilbert-Ndunga Nsangata and Jhonny Hendrix, about a Congolese village. Meanwhile, Vano Burdeli’s “Flight Tbilisi, Tbilisi,” is based on true events: a bungled 1983 hijacking by a Georgian actor, desperate to exit the USSR.

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