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First invited to Cannes in 1997, when her student short “Les vacances” won the jury prize, Emmanuelle Bercot has been back several times — unveiling her graduate thesis in Cinefondation the following year; premiering her first feature, “Clement,” in Un Certain Regard; as actress and co-writer on Maiwenn’s “Polisse.” This year, her film “Standing Tall” opened the fest.

How do you feel about being selected for such a high-profile spot at Cannes?

What’s unique this time is that Thierry Fremaux chose (“Standing Tall”) as the opening film, which was very surprising. Normally, the films chosen for opening night are very glamorous with huge international stars, and though it stars Catherine Deneuve, my film is more of a social drama. It touched me enormously not only that he selected a film like this one.

Why did Fremaux describe the film as being politically engaged?

He was referring to the events that happened at the beginning of January in France. Those terrorists were also children who didn’t have the chance for a proper education, and the film addresses that. The story was inspired by my uncle, who worked with delinquent kids. I did tons of research, spending a lot of time in judges’ offices and observing the world of juvenile justice, so the entire film is informed by those investigations in order to be as credible as possible.

You also star in Maiwenn’s “Mon roi,” in competition.

Yes, that almost never happens! Maiwenn’s film tells the story of the passionate and destructive love between a man and a woman over a period of 10 years. It’s about two people who love each other, but are incapable of living together, and yet, they can’t bring themselves to separate. Maiwenn’s approach is extremely realistic and organic; on top of that, all the dialogue is improvised by the actors, so it’s as if you’re watching a documentary about a couple.