‘Giants,’ ‘Breathing’ sweep Directors’ Fortnight

Cannes jury honors European actor-directors

CANNES — Two disparate visions of youth by European actor-directors — Belgian Bouli Lanners’ coming-of-age dramedy ”The Giants” and Austrian Karl Markovic’s far more somber ”Breathing” — swept top honors Friday at Cannes’ 43rd Directors’ Fortnight.

”Giants” scooped both the Art Cinema Award and the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers’ SACD Prize.

”Breathing” nabbed the Europa Cinemas Label for best European film in Directors’ Fortnight.

Lanners’ third directorial outing, ”Giants” chronicles a summer spent by two adolescent brothers, left by their mother to fend for themselves at their grandfather’s house.

Sold by Memento Films Intl., and produced by Belgium’s Versus Prods, France’s Haut et Court and Luxembourg’s Samsa Film, ”Giants” stood out in Directors’ Fortnight not only from its selection as the section’s closing film but also as a singularly crowd-pleasing view of adolescence.

Also written by Markovics, the Films Distribution-sold ”Breathing” turns on an on-probation teen offender who picks up work at the Vienna municipal morgue, then sets out to find his mother.

According to a statement Friday by the Europa Cinemas jury, ”Breathing” mirrors many of the themes involving young people present in other Cannes films this year , coping with the problems of growing up, parents, school and love.”

The jury added: ”Markovics gives us a dark but positive story that is full of life, sparked by excellent performances.”

Produced by Austria’s Epo-Film Prods., it toplines Thomas Schubert, Karin Lischka, Gerhard Liebmann and Georg Friedrich.

Stage actor and Austrian tube vet Markovics starred in Stefan Ruzowitzky’s 2007 Academy Award-winning ”The Counterfeiters” as master forger Salomon Sorowitsch.

The Art Cinema Award is given by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE), an art-house association.

The SACD Prize is limited to French-language films.

Europa Cinemas provides operational and financial incentives to its 1,036 member cinemas to encourage them to screen European films. It will offer a bonus to theaters which give ”Breathing” a more than minimal run.