×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Directors’ Fortnight turns 40

Rebel sidebar fetes Jarmusch with career kudo

PARIS — Cannes sidebar Directors’ Fortnight will be in full nostalgia mode this year as it celebrates its 40th edition.

Festivities will reach a high point May 18, with the gala screening of a documentary about its history, from its heady beginnings in the wake of May ’68, through to present day.

Jim Jarmusch, whose “Stranger Than Paradise” received its world premiere in Fortnight 24 years ago, will be on hand to receive a Carosse d’Or for his filmmaking career. Other helmers expected to put in appearances include Sean Penn, whose “The Indian Runner” preemed in Fortnight in 1991 and who will be in Cannes this year heading the main festival jury; and the Dardenne brothers, Cannes regulars who first came to public attention in Fortnight with “The Promise.”

Over the decades, Directors’ Fortnight has brought a roll call of world-class helmers to the Croisette. Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” and Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses” are among classics that first showed in the sidebar.

Popular on Variety

“We often upstaged the festival, even though we weren’t able to compete with its means, and couldn’t accommodate our guest directors in a luxury hotel,” says Pierre-Henri Deleau, the sidebar’s artistic director from the first edition in 1969 through to 1998.

Rivalry has defined relations between the festival and the sidebar since the latter’s creation in the months that followed May ’68. That month radical French New Wave directors including Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut brought Cannes to a halt in solidarity with nationwide worker and student protests (see story, page 48).

It wasn’t over when the curtain came down. Back in Paris, they went on the warpath, demanding reforms in time for the festival’s next edition. Rather than let them have their way with Cannes, the French authorities gave the directors a modest budget to stage their own event at the old Rex movie theater.

“It was on a shoestring but we made our mark — reaction on the Croisette was incredible,” recalls Deleau. “At that time, the Cannes Competition consisted of films that had been selected by countries they came from — it was all very official and stuffy — whereas we could program whatever we wanted. Our movies played to packed houses every night.”

But over time, the festival evolved and, with the arrival of Gilles Jacob in 1978, it came to occupy the terrain once held by Directors’ Fortnight.

An independent selection process was put in place at the big Cannes fest and Jacob followed up by creating the noncompetitive Un Certain Regard section and the Camera d’Or prize for best first film (the only official prize open to films in Official Selection, Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight).

In more recent years, the growing influence of film sales companies has become a challenge for programmers. One of the key requirements of current artistic director Olivier Pere’s job is the ability to persuade sales agents that the sidebar is sometimes the best place to launch a film commercially.

And sellers do rate the sidebar as an important platform.

“Outside the Competition, the Official Selection is so wide that there is the danger a film can get lost in it,” says Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, whose Paris-based company Films Distribution has three titles in Directors’ Fortnight this year, and one in Cannes Competition. “Directors’ Fortnight is a small boutique, so a film there is more visible.”

And so, Directors’ Fortnight is still giving the main Cannes festival a run for its money, four decades after it first came into being. “It’s a necessity,” asserts Deleau. “Cannes is a democracy that needs a credible opposition.”

More Film

  • Cineworld

    U.K.'s Cineworld Poised to Buy Canada's Cineplex in $2.1 Billion Deal

    U.K.-based Cineworld is to acquire Cineplex, Canada’s leading cinema chain, in a deal that values the Toronto-listed company at $2.1 billion (C$2.8 billion) and puts Cineworld in position to become North America’s biggest exhibitor. Cineworld said Monday that it had secured unanimous approval from its board of directors for the acquisition, and that its leading [...]

  • Trailer to Fedor Bondarchuk Sci-Fi Actioner

    Fedor Bondarchuk's Sci-Fi Actioner 'Invasion' Debuts Imax Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the Imax trailer, dubbed into English, to Fedor Bondarchuk’s sci-fi actioner “Invasion,” the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Attraction.” In the first film Moscow becomes the battleground for all-out war against an army of alien invaders. In the sequel, an alien spaceship crash lands in Moscow, and an [...]

  • Sheep Without a Shepherd

    China Box Office: ‘Shepherd’ and ‘Skyfire’ Lead Local Film Dominance

    Chinese-made films “Sheep Without A Shepherd,” “Skyfire” and “Gone With the Light” dominated weekend takings at the mainland Chinese box office. Hollywood’s holdovers were consigned to the lesser rankings. “Shepherd” is a remake of 2013 Indian thriller “Drishyam” and tells the story of a man trying to cover up for his daughter’s killing of a [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    COLA Announces California On-Location Awards Winners

    “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Dolemite is My Name,” and HBO’s “Ballers” are among the winners of this year’s COLA awards. The COLAs recognize location managers, public employees and other professionals who help facilitate on-location production across the Golden State. This year’s awards program was held at the Universal Hilton. Finalists and winners are [...]

  • French movie director Jean Luc Godard

    How Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard Immortalized Each Other (Guest Column)

    With the passing of Anna Karina, a curtain has fallen on the French New Wave, that fabled cinematic movement that brought fame to the man who made her name, Jean-Luc Godard. Yes, Godard is still with us, as is “Breathless” star Jean-Paul Belmondo (practically the last of the living New Wave legends), but his moviemaking [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    Box Office: Clint Eastwood Suffers Worst Opening in Four Decades With 'Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, Warner Bros.’ drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters. It’s a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content