CANNES — Chloe Zhao’s “The Rider,” Sony Pictures Classics’ second pick-up at this year’s Cannes Festival, won the Art Cinema Award, the top prize at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight.
In further plaudits, all given by the section’s sponsors, Jonas Carpignano’s neo-realist migrant drama “A Ciambra,” executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, won the Europa Cinemas Label Award, open to all European titles in Directors’ Fortnight.
Granted by France’s Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers, the SACD Award for best French film in Directors’ Fortnight was shared by two titles from leading Gallic auteurs: Philippe Garrel’s “Lover for a Day” and Claire Denis’ “Let the Sunshine In.”
Directed by Zhao, a Chinese-American, and capturing a fast-disappearing part of Americana, “The Rider” charts the frustrated dreams of a South Dakota rodeo rider, played by real-life cowboy Brady Jandreau. “The Rider” also marks a return to Directors’ Fortnight for China’s Zhao who presented her feature debut “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” in 2015.
Well received at Cannes, “the moody, wistful film” “gains artful integrity from Zhao’s favored docu-fiction technique — roughly tracing a script around the experiences of her non-professional actors — and dusty-dreamy visual style,” Variety noted.
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Sold by Protagonist Pictures, “The Rider” is produced by Zhao’s company Highwayman Films, with Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche of Caviar Films, and Mollye Asher.
Cast in Italy’s neorealist tradition, and inheriting some of the visuals of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” on which Carpignano worked as an a.d., “A Ciambra” marks the first title to emerge from an emerging filmmaker film fund set up by Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff’s Sikelia Productions and Rodrigo Teixeira’s Sao Paulo-based RT Features. It is produced by Italy’s Stayblack, RT Features, Sikelia Prods and RAI Cinema, the film arm of the Italian public broadcaster.
Sold by Luxbox, “A Ciambra” was picked up at Cannes for North America by Sundance Selects. Carpignano’s semi-sequel to “Mediterranea,” “A Ciambra” stars Pio Amato ,who played a secondary character in “Mediterranea,” as a 14-year-old growing up in a Romani community on Italy’s Calabrian coast.
“What [Carpignano] does with his young lead, drawing from him a mature and complex performance, is truly remarkable. A moving and beautiful picture,” Scorsese has commented.
Opening Directors’ Fortnight, and starring Juliette Binoche and Gérard Depardieu, Denis’ “Un Beau Soleil Interieur’ marks something of a change of direction for Denis, a romantic comedy, but a hardly standard one starring Binoche as a perpetually unsatisfied woman, and Depardieu as a potential love interest, though he hardly appears before the film’s final stretch.
Garrel cleaves much closer to his auteur hallmarks in “Lover For a Day,” another black-and-white Paris-set examination of love, but, Variety wrote, with a double ambition: to further deepen the director’s ongoing Freudian analysis of female characters launched with “Jealousy,” while also starting to explore a new continent, female pleasure.
Directors’ Fortnight closes with U.S. musicvid director Geremy Jasper’s debut “Patti Cake$,” one of the biggest breakouts of Sundance, starring Danielle Macdonald as an outsized white girl harboring dreams of mega gangsta rap stardom, while living in a bathetic New Jersey burb.
CANNES 2017 DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT PRIZES
ART CINEMA AWARD
“The Rider,” (Chloe Zhao, U.S.)
EUROPA CINEMAS LABEL AWARD
“A Ciambra,” (Jonas Carpignano, Italy, Brazil, U.S.)
SOCIETY OF DRAMATIC AUTHORS AND COMPOSERS (SACD) PRIZE
“Let the Sunshine In,” (Claire Denis, France); “Lover For a Day,” (Philippe Garrel, France)
ILLY SHORT FILM PRIZE
“Back To Genoa City,” (Benoit Grimalt, France)