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Cannes Festival Atelier Selects ‘Decompression,’ ‘Teenage Jesus,’ ‘Winter’

Co-production initiative directors range from Palestine with two talents from Vietnam

Yona Rozenkier’s “Decompression,” Marie Grahto Sorenson’s “Teenage Jesus,” and “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” from South Africa’s Jahmil X.T. Quebek, have made the 15-project cut for the 2017 Cannes Festival L’Atelier co-production forum.

Part of Cannes’ Cinefondation film development initiative, the Atelier was launched in 2005 to support emerging filmmakers, from near complete unknowns to high-profile names,  who are offered expert advice and the chance to meet potential co-production partners and funding sources during the Festival.

The success rate is high: Of the 186 projects presented on the Croisette, 146 have been completed, and another 14 are in pre-production.

This year the Atelier will host projects which come with buzz from other development initiatives. One case to point: A dramedy charting a dysfunctional father-and-son relationship, Rozenkier’s feature debut “Decompression” won the top award at the 2016 Jerusalem Film Festival’s Sam Spiegel International Film Lab.

The anticipated “Teenage Jesus,” which won best pitch at the 2015 Haugesund Festival’s Genre Boost, was described by Variety as a sci-fi pop noir about girls with endangering talents who are locked away in an institution, and by the director herself as “‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ meets Harmony Korine.”

“Sew the Winter to My Skin” marks the latest project from South Africa’s Jahmil X.T. Quebeka, who came to prominence when “Of Good Report,” the portrait of a teacher going off the rails, was banned by an over-zealous South African censorship board after it had been chosen to open the 2013 Durban Festival.

Likely to attract attention, for its accessible mix of political and open arthouse treatment, “Alam,” from Palestine’s Firas Khoury, which won a Doha Film Institute grant, turns on a student whose political consciousness is sparked when he develops a crush on another, politically engaged, student.

“Candy Town” marks a project from the Dominican Republic’s Yannillys Perez who impressed last year at Panama Fest’s Primera Mirada with docu-feature “Jeffrey,” an ambitious portrait of a dirt-poor reggaeton rhyming with big dreams.

Of other projects, “Go Youth!” is an ensemble coming of age black comedy set in Mexico City from Carlos Armella, whose 2014 “The Land of Silence” competed at the Rotterdam Festival.

“Day After Tomorrow,” a Bangladesh river-set ensemble drama, marks the second part of a planned trilogy of river features from Kamar Ahmad Simon.

Directed by China’s Lei Lei, “Ningdu” weighs in as a family saga beginning in China’s Great Leap Forward of the 1950s and stretching down the decades, as a family, drawing on the director’s own background, is torn apart by historical change.

A Berlinale Talents player from Romania’s Ruxandra Ghitescu, drama-thriller “Otto the Barbarian” presents the story of Otto, a 17 year-old bright teenage punk processing the death of his girlfriend. Alien Films’ Iuliana Tarnovetchi, the producer of “California Dreamin’,” Cristian Nemescu’s 2007 Un Certain Regard winner, produces Ghitescu’s debut.

British writer-director Emily Young, whose short “Second Hand” won the 1999 Cinefoundation Award, returns to Cannes with “Summer E5.” A coming-of-age summer movie, produced by Ania Nakov, it narrates a powerful friendship between two young girls formed when both are betrayed by their families.

“City of Small Blessings” is planned as a Singapore-set fiction feature by Chen-Hsi Wong on how a former civil servant battles in retirement to save his home from being taken away by the very government he dedicated his life to. The project is set up at Akanga Film Asia, the producer of Lav Diaz’s “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery,” a Berlin Alfred Bauer award winner.

Syrian-French couple Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf’s team on “The Translator,” a mother-son drama set during the first five months of the Syrian Revolution.

An emerging artist on the Hanoi scene, Pham Ngoc Lan focuses in his feature debut on a middle-aged Asian woman who travels between two different worlds to scatter the ashes of her western-world husband. “Cu Li” is produced by Phan Dang Di, director of “Bi, Don’t Be Afraid,” a Sacd and Acid awards winner at 2010’s Cannes Critics’ Week.

As a short film, “Taste,” directed by Vietnamese director Le Bao, snagged a Project with Most Potential plaudit last year at the Singapore International Film Festival. Le Bao willow at Cannes with the projected feature expansion. it turns on a Nigerian soccer player who tries his hand at multiple jobs to earn a living in Ho Chi Minh City – hoping to reunite one day with his wife and children.

CANNES CINEFONDATION L’ATELIER 2017 LINE-UP 

“Sew the Winter to My Skin,” Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (South Africa)

“Day After Tomorrow,” Kamar Ahmad Simon (Bangladesh)

“Ningdu,” Lei Lei (China)

“Teenage Jesus,” Marie Grahtø Sørensen (Denmark)

“Decompression,” Yona Rozenkier (Israel)

“Go Youth!” Carlos Armella (Mexico)

“Bedridden,2 Byamba Sakhya (Mongolia)

“Alam,” Firas Khoury (Palestine)

“Candy Town,” Yannillys Perez (Dominican Republic)

“Otto the Barbarian,” Ruxandra Ghitescu (Romania)

“Summer E5,” Emily Young (UK)

“City of Small Blessings,” Chen-His Wong (Singapore)

“The Translator,” Rana Kazkaz & Anas Khalaf (Syria)

“Cu Li Never Cries,” Phan Ngoc Lan (Vietnam)

“Taste,” Le Bao (Vietnam)

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