New works by Jaco Van Dormael, Takashi Miike, Jeremy Saulnier and Sarunas Bartas, as well as recent Sundance entries “Dope” and “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” are among the films set to screen in the 47th annual Directors’ Fortnight program at the Cannes Film Festival.
As announced by artistic director Edouard Waintrop at a press conference on Tuesday, the Fortnight will unspool 19 features this year — three of them directed by Portuguese helmer Miguel Gomes, whose six-hour-plus trilogy, “Arabian Nights,” was announced by the Fortnight last week, as was “My Golden Years,” the latest from French auteur Arnaud Desplechin. Both Gomes and Desplechin were turned down from the main competition and opted to take their films to the other side of the Croisette rather than accept slots in Un Certain Regard — a major coup for Waintrop that signals one of the most openly competitive years for the official selection and Directors’ Fortnight in recent memory.
With the program set to kick off May 14 with Philippe Garrel’s previously announced opening-night entry, “In the Shadow of Women,” the Fortnight seems to have struck an ideal balance of established auteurs as well as emerging talents. Waintrop noted that the program was culled from 1,623 feature-length submissions, an increase over last year’s number.
As usual, the lineup will feature a number of American independent titles, including the world premiere of “Green Room” (pictured above), the latest thriller from Fortnight alum Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”), plus two well-received dramatic competition entries from the recent Sundance Film Festival: Rick Famuyiwa’s Los Angeles-set comic thriller “Dope,” which will close the Fortnight on May 24, and Chloe Zhao’s Native American drama “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.”
Zhao is one of three female filmmakers represented in the program: The others are Turkey’s Deniz Gamze Erguven, making her debut with “Mustang,” a drama about rigidity and intolerance in a remote Turkish village; and Chile’s Marcia Tambutti, presenting “Allende, mi abuelo Allende,” a documentary portrait of her grandfather Salvador Allende. Another film from South America, bolstering the region’s limited presence in Cannes this year, is “Embrace of the Serpent,” an Amazon-set drama from the Colombian director Ciro Guerra (“The Wind Journeys”).
Twenty-four years after winning the Camera d’Or for “Toto the Hero” (1991), Belgian helmer Van Dormael will appear in the Fortnight with “The Brand New Testament,” a religious satire in which God lives in Brussels; Waintrop described it as “a film that made us laugh tremendously.” He noted that humor also featured prominently in “Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld,” a gangster-horror mash-up from Japanese helmer Takashi Miike, which is receiving a Special Screening berth.
Likely to be one of the few Spanish-directed titles premiering anywhere in Cannes, “A Perfect Day” marks the English-language debut of Fernando Leon de Aranoa (“Mondays in the Sun”), starring Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko. Morocco looks to be somewhat better represented in the Fortnight, thanks to the selections of Nabil Ayouch’s prostitution drama “Much Loved” and “Fatima,” from Moroccan-born French helmer Philippe Faucon.
Rounding out the program are “Peace to Us in Our Dreams,” the eighth feature from Lithuanian director Sharunas Bartas, and “The Here After,” a first film by Swedish helmer Magnus von Horn.
As already announced, the French Directors Assn. will present the Carrosse d’Or prize to China’s Jia Zhangke, whose latest, “Mountains May Depart,” is set to screen in the official competition.
The Directors’ Fortnight runs May 14-24.
2015 CANNES DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT LINEUP
“In the Shadow of Women” (Philippe Garrel, France). Clotilde Courau, Stanislas Merhar and Lena Paugam star in Garrel’s 25th feature, a tale of romantic betrayal centered around two impoverished documentary filmmakers adrift in modern-day Paris. (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Allende, mi abuelo Allende” (Marcia Tambutti, Chile-Mexico). Tambutti delivers a personal portrait of her grandfather Salvador Allende, delving into his complicated legacy and the clash between his private and public personae.
“Arabian Nights” (Miguel Gomes, Portugal). With a six-hour-plus running time, this three-part epic is likely to clock in as the longest entry in Cannes this year. Filtering Portugal’s social and financial woes through the perspective of a contemporary Scheherazade figure, the film marks Gomes’ return to the Directors’ Fortnight since “Our Beloved Month of August” premiered there in 2008. (Sales: The Match Factory)
“The Brand New Testament” (Jaco Van Dormael, Luxembourg-France-Belgium). Van Dormael’s follow-up to “Mr. Nobody” is a low-cost, high-concept religious satire in which God (played by Benoit Poelvoorde) accidentally sets off a panic after his disgruntled daughter (Yolande Moreau) leaks the apocalyptic plans he had stored on his computer. Catherine Deneuve also appears. (Sales: Le Pacte)
“The Cowboys” (Thomas Bidegain, France). The Cesar-winning screenwriter of Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” and “Rust and Bone” makes his directing debut with this drama about a father (Francois Damiens) and son (Finnegan Oldfield) who set out to find their missing daughter/sister with the help of an American headhunter (John C. Reilly). (Sales: Pathe)
“Embrace of the Serpent” (Ciro Guerra, Colombia-Venezuela-Argentina). U.S. actor Brionne Davis and Belgium’s Jan Bijvoet star in this drama about the encounter, apparent betrayal and finally life-affirming friendship between an Amazonian shaman (the last survivor of his people) and two foreign scientists. The Colombian director’s previous film, “The Wind Journeys” (2009), premiered in Un Certain Regard.
“Fatima” (Philippe Faucon, France). The title of Faucon’s ninth feature refers to a Moroccan-born woman who now lives in France with her two teenage daughters, with whom she is barely able to communicate. (Sales: Pyramide)
“My Golden Years” (Arnaud Desplechin, France). Mathieu Amalric reprises his role as Paul Dedalus in this prequel to Desplechin’s celebrated three-hour talkfest “My Sex Life … or How I Got Into an Argument,” which bowed in competition at Cannes in 1996. (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Green Room” (Jeremy Saulnier, U.S.). Saulnier follows up his well-received 2013 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Blue Ruin,” with this tale of a band of punk rockers who find themselves trapped in a secluded venue, fighting for their lives against a gang of neo-Nazis. Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner and Joe Cole star in the Oregon-lensed thriller.
“The Here After” (Magnus von Horn, France-Poland-Sweden). The Swedish writer-director makes his helming debut with the story of a man’s torment after serving time for the murder of his girlfriend, starring Ulrik Munther.
“Much Loved” (Nabil Ayouch, Morocco-France). The leading light of a generation of Moroccan helmers who broke through in the late 1990s, Ayouch (“Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets,” “Horses of God”) spins a social drama about four marginalized prostitutes in Marrakech and their complex relations with their families and society at large.
“Mustang” (Deniz Gamze Erguven, France). Set in a remote Turkish village, Erguven’s debut (co-written with Alice Winocour) tells of a 13-year-old girl who tries to break free with her sisters from the rigid destiny imposed on them by their family. (Sales: Kinology)
“Peace to Us in Our Dreams” (Sharunas Bartas, Lithuania-France). A family weekend in the countryside goes awry in this drama from leading Lithuanian filmmaker Bartas. (Sales: NDM Ventas Internacionales)
“A Perfect Day” (Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Spain). Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko star in the director’s English-language debut, a conflict-zone dramedy set somewhere in the Balkans following a cease-fire.
“Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (Chloe Zhao, U.S.). Beijing-born helmer Zhao makes her directing debut with this Sundance-premiered slice-of-life about a family dwelling on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld” (Takashi Miike, Japan). Ichihara Hayato and Yayan Ruhian (“The Raid”) star in the prolific Japanese goremeister’s latest, a gangland vampire thriller.
“Dope” (Rick Famuyiwa, U.S.). One of the breakout hits of Sundance, this energetic comedy-actioner traces the dangerous misadventures of three black teenagers from Inglewood, Calif., who find themselves embroiled in a drug deal. Open Road and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions are releasing the film Stateside.
(John Hopewell contributed to this report.)