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U.S. Fare Looms Large in Directors’ Fortnight

Cannes sidebar to unspool 'We Are What We Are,' 'Magic Magic,' Jodorowsky double bill

PARIS — This year’s glitzier-than-usual Directors’ Fortnight will have a strong American accent, with two Sundance preems, Jim Mickle’s cannibal thriller “We Are What We Are” and Sebastian Silva’s psychological suspenser “Magic Magic,” plus Jeremy Saulnier’s revenge thriller “Blue Ruin”  and Frank Pavich’s documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune” all set to compete at the Cannes Film Festival sidebar.

The selection, announced Tuesday morning in Paris, has artistic director Edouard Waintrop’s stamp all over it. When Waintrop took over Directors’ Fortnight in 2012, he spoke to Variety about his desire to raise the sidebar’s profile and cast a wider net, with more genre films, crossover fare and American indies represented.

“In 2012, we ended up with a strong selection of films, but I felt that we needed a larger U.S. presence. This year, we’re right where we need to be,” he said.

Pavich’s docu chronicles Alejandro Jodorwosky’s epic failed attempt to film an adaptation of “Dune” in the 1970s. The sidebar will also unspool Jodorwosky’s surreal autobiographical feature “The Dance of Reality,” the 84-year-old Chilean director’s first film in 23 years.

“Blue Ruin,” the sophomore outing of Brooklyn-based Saulnier (“Murder Party”), is a revenge thriller about a homeless man’s bloody journey to avenge his family’s murder. “It’s a humor-laced, action-packed film noir which sheds light on the gun craze and violence in contemporary America,” said Waintrop, who noted that all the genre films selected are more than merely entertaining.

That also applies to “Magic Magic,” one of two collaborations between actor Michael Cera and Chilean helmer Silva that premiered earlier this year in Park City (the other being “Crystal Fairy”), and “We Are What We Are.” Latter marks a full-circle return of sorts: Mickle’s horror pic is a New York-set remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s Mexican thriller, which premiered at Directors’ Fortnight in 2010.

Set to kick off with Ari Folman’s previously announced “The Congress,” an animation-live-action hybrid starring Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel and Paul Giamatti, the Fortnight will play 21 features, including 16 world premieres.

Seven debuts will vie for the Camera d’Or, awarded to the best first film playing in any section of the festival (official selection, Critics’ Week or Directors’ Fortnight).

One of the highest-profile debuts is “Last Days on Mars,” a sci-fi thriller from Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson, about astronauts embarking on a dangerous mission to the Red Planet. Sold by Focus Features Intl., pic stars Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai and Elias Koteas.

Other debuts include “The Summer of the Flying Fish,” a mordant family dramedy from Chile’s Marcela Said; Singaporean helmer Anthony Chen’s “Iloilo,” turning on three brothers and their relationship with their Filipino nanny; and Gallic director Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me Myself and Mum,” an offbeat comedy starring Gallienne, Francoise Fabian and Diane Kruger, based on the helmer’s popular stage play.

Also set to screen in Directors’ Fortnight is Clio Barnard’s “The Selfish Giant,” a contempo fable inspired by Oscar Wilde’s short story. Waintrop noted that Barnard’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed docu “The Arbor” has “the social realism of a Ken Loach film and is filled with poetic moments.”

In line with Critics’ Week, Directors’ Fortnight’s slate boasts a sizable European presence, notably with six Gallic pics. These include “La France” helmer Serge Bozon’s comedy “Tip Top,” starring Isabelle Huppert and Francois Damiens; thesp-turned-helmer Yolande Moreau’s friendship tale “Henri”; Thierry De Peretti’s debut feature, “Les Apaches”; and Marcel Ophuls’ autobiographical docu “Un voyageur.”

Among the French co-productions set to unspool are Raphael Nadjari’s Israel-set dramedy “Above the Hill,” centered on a lonely and neurotic divorced man who seeks his estranged father’s help; and Swiss-Iranian Kaveh Bakhtiari’s docu “L’escale,” which follows Iranian immigrants sharing a flat in Athens.

Asia is also well represented. Besides “Iloilo,” the sidebar will play Mumbai-set noir “Ugly,” Anurag Kashyap’s follow up to last year’s five-hour-plus Fortnight hit “Gangs of Wasseypur”; and Filipino director Erik Matti’s hitman thriller “On the Job.”

Swiss-born helmer Basil Da Cunha’s “Apres la nuit” and French director Antonin Peretjako’s “La Fille du 14 juillet” round out the sidebar, which runs May 16-26.

2013 CANNES DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT LINEUP

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