PARIS — Three Sundance pics lead the charge of U.S. fare in the Cannes Film Festival sidebar Directors Fortnight, whose lineup was announced today by new artistic director Olivier Pere.
Jacob Aaron Estes’ “Mean Creek,” Jonathan Caouette’s “Tarnation” and “The Woodsman,” by Nicole Kassell, are joined in the selection by a fourth American film, Asia Argento’s “The Heart Is Deceitful … Above All Things,” an adaptation of 23-year-old J.T. LeRoy’s cult novel. Ensemble cast includes Peter Fonda, Winona Ryder, Marilyn Manson and Argento.
While the U.S. presence reps a substantial increase from last year’s single entry, five of the sidebar’s 20 features this year are French. Of the 12 shorts, seven are French.
Gallic features include vet helmer Paul Vecchiali’s “A vot’ bon coeur,” an autobiographical pic that traces the helmer’s struggles to find financing for his film; Damien Odoul’s third film, “En attendant le deluge” (Waiting for the Flood); and Thomas Vincent’s “Je suis un assassin,” a psychological thriller based on Donald Westlake novel “The Contract.” Latter pic is considered one of the likelier breakout films in the lineup.
Pere took over as artistic topper of Directors Fortnight last year following the departure of Francois da Silva after just one crack at the selection. Da Silva’s predecessor, Marie-Pierre Macia, lasted for three years before being ousted by the Societe des Realisateurs de Films, which created the sidebar.
But Pere, a programmer at the Cinematheque and writer for culture mag Les Inrockuptibles, said he was given carte blanche by the SRF to make his own choices.
“After being run for many years by Pierre-Henri Deleau, it was normal that Directors Fortnight go through a transition period,” Pere told Daily Variety on Monday. “I hope to be able to restore stability.
“There are lots of surprises on the list, with films that are very different from our expectations of certain filmmakers or countries,” he said.
The artistic topper cited the selection’s two Iranian films, Behrouz Afkhami’s “The River’s End,” a story about a father and son told by a narrator, and Moshen Amir-Yousefi’s “Bitter Dream,” which he described as “very poetic and sometimes burlesque — we are not used to laughing at an Iranian film.”
The sidebar will open with “The Taste of Tea” by Japan’s Katsuhito Ishii. An acquaintance of Quentin Tarantino, Ishii contributed character drawings used in the anime sequences in “Kill Bill Vol. I.”
The closing night film is Andres Wood’s “Machuca,” which observes Chile’s troubled political history through the eyes of a child.
The Philippines is back in the selection, after an absence of at least 15 years, with Mario O’Hara’s “Babae sa breakwater” (Woman of Breakwater).
The selection committee viewed 1,600 films, including more than 1,000 features.
Pere will not hold special screenings this year.
“As the sidebar is not competitive, it makes no sense to have ‘out-of-competition’ screenings. All of the films are special screenings,” he said.
However, as usual, any of the films from first-time helmers in the lineup will be in the running for Cannes’ Camera d’Or along with debut pics in the fest’s other selections.
“Babae sa Breakwater (Woman of Breakwater),” Philippines, Mario O’Hara
“La blessbre,” France-Belgium, Nicolas Klotz
“Cha no aji (The Taste of Tea),” Japan, Katsuhito Ishii
“En attendant le deluge,” France, Damien Odoul
“Gavkhouni (The River’s End),” Iran, Behrouz Afkhami
“The Heart Is Deceitful … Above All Things,” U.S., Asia Argento
“Je suis un assassin,” France, Thomas Vincent
“Khab e talkh (Bitter Dream),” Iran, Mohsen Amiryoussefi
“Maarek hob (dans les champs de bataille), Lebanon-France-Belgium, Danielle Arbid
“Machuca,” France-Spain-Chile, Andres Wood
“Mean Creek,” U.S., Jacob Aaron Estes
“Los muertos,” Argentina-France, Lisandro Alonso
“Mur,” France, Simone Bitton
“L’odeur du sang,” Italy-France, Mario Martone
“Oh, Uomo,” Italy, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi
“Tarnation,” U.S., Jonathan Caouette
“The Tunnel,” Japan, Kunitoshi Manda
“Venus et Fleur,” France, Emmanuel Mouret
“A vot’ bon coeur,” France, Paul Vecchiali
“The Woodsman,” U.S., Nicole Kassell
“Capitaine Achab,” France, Philippe Ramos
“Charlotte,” Germany, Ulrike von Ribbeck
“Le dieu saturne,” France, Jean-Charles Fitoussi
“Le droit chemin,” France, Mathias Gokalp
“A Feather Stare at the Dark,” Japan, Tsuji Naoyuki
“Fill in the Blanks,” South Korea, Youn-Sung Kim
“Frontier,” Japan, Jun Miyazaki
“Odya,” Russia, Edgar Bartenev
“La petite chambre,” France, Elodie Monlibert
“La peur, petit chasseur,” France, Laurent Achard
“Tristesse beau visage,” France, Jean-Paul Civeyrac
“Vostok,” France, Jan Andersen