Renewal rolls off 2012 success

MADRID — Edouard Waintrop has been re-upped for a second year as artistic director of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight by France’s Directors Guild after the 2012 edition drew wide praise.

Compared to Frederic Boyer’s 2011 Eurocentric edition, which many thought upstaged by Critics’ Week, Waintrop opened up the sidebar to more Latin American movies. This reflected his time at Switzerland’s Fribourg Festival, focusing on southern hemisphere pics, which he took over in 2007.

Directors’ Fortnight featured five Latin American movies, including debuts “La Sirga” by William Vega and Benjamín Avila’s “Clandestine Childhood.”

Waintrop, a film critic for 26 years at French newspaper Liberation, also opened up Directors’ Fortnight to comedy and auteur genre.

The move yielded widely contrasting hits: Ben Wheatley’s holiday murder spree “Sightseers,” bear-mouse buddy comedy toon “Ernest and Celestine” and Anurag Kashyap’s epic 5 1/2-hour Indian mobster saga, “Gangs of Wasseypur.”

Sony Pictures Classics picked up North American rights to Directors’ Fortnight’s biggest success, Chilean Pablo Larrain’s “No,” about the ousting of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

In other North America Fortnight buys, IFC took “Sightseers,” while Film Movement nabbed “La Sirga” and “Aliyah.”

Haut et Court bought “Hold Back” for France, and Wild Bunch took Rodney Ascher’s “Room 237,” an outlandish docu-feature on “The Shining,” which had out-there movie hounds clamoring for more radical Fortnight fare next year.

“I tried to find surprising, inspirational movies which didn’t lose an audience perspective,” Waintrop told Variety.

Waintrop said he will attempt to reduce titles from 21 to 17 or 18 for the next Directors’ Fortnight, running May 16-26.

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