PARIS — Following this year’s light U.S. showing in Cannes’ official selection, the 42nd Directors’ Fortnight unveiled a lineup packed with European and Latin American newcomers, with nearly half the films in its main program competing for the festival’s Camera d’Or prize for first feature.
Of the 24 features announced in the Fortnight (better known in France as the Quinzaine des Realisateurs), 10 hail from Europe, while five are from Latin America. Only two American features are in the main selection, compared with five in 2009. Twenty-one of the films are world premieres.
At a Paris press conference on Tuesday morning, new Fortnight topper Frederic Boyer revealed a program that underlines his mission to open up the sidebar to more eclecticism than ever, and a score of first-time filmmakers.
“Films by well-known directors don’t interest us as much. The Quinzaine’s purpose is to discover new talent,” Boyer said. “I’m more interested in filmmakers that have never been seen before, in those that come from underrepresented regions like Africa, which will be present this year in a rare short from Zambia.”
The two U.S. pics to make the cut are indie helmer Cam Archer’s sophomore pic, “Shit Year,” a black-and-white, Los Angeles-set portrait of a lonely actress, starring Ellen Barkin; and Alistair Banks Griffin’s debut, “Two Gates of Sleep,” a tale of two brothers who voyage upriver to fulfill their mother’s dying wish.
“It’s true there are fewer U.S. films than before,” Boyer told Daily Variety. “But that’s also because we wanted to screen world premieres, and not films that have already been shown at Sundance or other fests.”
Vet documaker Frederick Wiseman will round out the U.S. entries with his 39th film, “Boxing Gym,” a study of an Austin sparring club, that will preem in the sidebar’s special screenings section.
As always, France sports a heavy Fortnight presence with two shorts and four features, including Fabienne Berthaud’s two-hander “Lily Sometimes,” starring Diane Kruger and Ludivine Sagnier; Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s “Des Filles en noir,” about two teenage girls stirring up trouble in a provincial French town; and freshman helmer Katell Quillevere’s “Love Like Poison,” about a 14-year-old who returns home from Catholic school to find her family in shambles.
An opening-night documentary will complete the Gallic lineup: “Benda Bilili!,” a portrait of a Kinshasa street orchestra made up entirely of handicapped musicians, by first-timers Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye.
French thesp and budding helmer Louis Garrel will be screening the medium-length drama “Petit tailleur,” starring Seydoux and Lolita Chammah.
The Euro-heavy selection will spotlight works from a handful of other countries, several of which are multinational co-productions.
Swiss-born filmmaker Jean-Stephane Bron will present “Cleveland vs. Wall Street,” which re-creates the trial that never took place between evicted Clevelanders and some of Wall Street’s most powerful investment banks.
Danish genre specialist Christoffer Boe will return to Cannes with his latest thriller, “Everything Will Be Fine,” while Belgium helmer Olivier Masset-Depasse will unspool his immigrant drama “Illegal.”
Other Euro helmers include Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino, who presents his rural docu-fiction “Le quattro volte”; Flemish director Gust Vandenberghe with “Little Baby Jesus of Flanders,” a contempo-set tale of three beggars who witness the birth of Christ; and Philip Koch, debuting with “Picco,” a dark drama set in Germany’s juvenile prisons.
The U.K. will be repped in the main lineup by Alicia Duffy’s first feature, “All Good Children,” set largely in France and centered around two Irish kids coping with their mother’s suicide. Stephen Kijak’s docu “Stones in Exile,” about the making of the group’s legendary 1972 album “Exile on Main Street,” will receive a special screening.
While Europe is out in full force, Latin American cinema once again shows a strong Fortnight presence with genre-bent films from Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay and Brazil.
“Genre films are really important to me, and I decided to screen them like other titles in the main program, and not only in special or midnight screenings,” Boyer said.
Fest fave Diego Lerman will be making his first Cannes bow with “The Invisible Eye,” a dark parable set during the final days of the Argentine dictatorship. Co-produced with Spain and France, pic will be repped by Gallic outfit Pyramide, who will also be handling French distribution.
Aussie-born helmer Michael Rowe’s Mexico City-set sex drama, “Leap Year,” will compete for the Camera d’Or along with Jorge Michel Grau’s “We Are What We Are,” a gory tale of three teenage cannibals trying to survive after their dad passes away.
Brazilian duo Marina Meliande and Felipe Braganca will screen “Joy,” a Rio-set coming-of-ager; and Gustavo Hernandez will debut with “The Silent House,” a Uruguayan horror pic that claims to be the first ever made in one uninterrupted shot.
Boyer’s lineup also ventures to less chartered territories: Kyrgyzstan will be repped by Aktan Arym Kubat’s “The Light Thief,” a portrait of a post-Soviet electrician, while Morocco will be featured in French-born helmer Oliver Laxe’s debut, “Todo vos sodes capitans,” which skirts the line between docu and narrative.
Asia has its weakest presence in years with only one title, Malaysian helmer Woo Ming-jin’s fourth feature, “Tiger Factory.” Israeli director Avishai Sivan nabbed the sole Middle Eastern slot with “The Wanderer,” a tale of a young Hasidic man’s struggles with faith, friends and family.
“We didn’t see much from Asia this year beyond the Malaysian title, and we didn’t want to purposely pick Asian films just to beef up the lineup,” Boyer said.
The sidebar runs May 13-23.
“All Good Children,” U.K., Alicia Duffy
“Benda Bilili!,” France, Renaud Barret, Florent de la Tullaye (opening film)
“Cleveland vs. Wall Street,” Switzerland-France, Jean-Stephane Bron
“Des filles en noir,” France, Jean-Paul Civeyrac
“Everything Will Be Fine,” Denmark-Sweden-France, Christoffer Boe
“Illegal,” Belgium-Luxembourg-France, Olivier Masset-Depasse
“The Invisible Eye,” Argentina-France-Spain, Diego Lerman
“Joy,” Brazil, Marina Meliande, Felipe Braganca
“Le quattro volte,” Italy-Germany-Switzerland, Michelangelo Frammartino
“Leap Year,” Mexico, Michael Rowe
“The Light Thief,” Kyrgyzstan, Aktan Arym Kubat
“Lily Sometimes,” France, Fabienne Berthaud (closing film)
“Little Baby Jesus of Flanders,” Belgium, Gust Vandenberghe
“Love Like Poison,” France, Katell Quillevere
“Picco,” Germany, Philip Koch
“Shit Year,” U.S., Cam Archer
“The Silent House,” Uruguay, Gustavo Hernandez
“Tiger Factory,” Malaysia, Woo Ming-jin
“Todos vos sodes capitans,” Morocco-Spain, Oliver Laxe
“Two Gates of Sleep,” U.S., Alistair Banks Griffin
“The Wanderer,” Israel, Avishai Sivan
“We Are What We Are,” Mexico, Jorge Michel Grau
“Boxing Gym,” U.S., Frederick Wiseman
“Stones in Exile,” U.K., Stephen Kijak
SHORT FILM PROGRAM
“Licht,” Netherlands, Andre Schreuders
“Quest,” Romania, Ionut Piturescu
“Mary Last Seen,” U.S., Sean Durkin
“Petit tailleuer,” France, Louis Garrel
“Shadows of Silence,” France, Pradeepan Raveendra
“Shikasha,” Japan, Hirabayashi Isamu
“A Silent Child,” Sweden, Jesper Klevenas
“Tre ore,” Italy, Annarita Zambrano
“Zed Crew,” Zambia, Noah Pink