×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Faces of French Cinema Making Waves at Cannes

UniFrance hosts talks 9:30 a.m. May 13 with New Faces of French Cinema at the UniFrance Terrace.

Leïla Bekhti

“Sink or Swim”

After debuting with supporting roles in such films as the gonzo-horror pic “Sheitan” and offering the sole female presence in macho juggernaut “A Prophet,” actress Bekhti became movie star Bekhti with the release of her 2010 comedy “All That Glitters.”  Though that breakthrough role landed her a César and increased her box-office clout, the Parisian has not allowed herself to get too comfortable in any one gear.

“All my roles have to scare me,” she says. “Fear is reassuring; if one day I arrived on set and didn’t feel a bit afraid, that would be the end. Being afraid doesn’t stop me, it pushes me forward.”

So she has continually sought out first-time filmmakers, and is trying her hand at producing, developing a feature with theater director Julie Duclos. “It’s very moving to pay witness to an artist’s first work,” Bekhti notes.

The actress took the lead in the Scandi-noir series “Midnight Sun,” which required a move to Sweden and a crash course in English. “I’d never spoke the language before,” she laughs.

And when the then-expecting star was offered a part in Cannes out-of-competition comedy “Sink or Swim,” she happily accepted, on the condition that the film make no mention of her current state. “I didn’t want my character to be pregnant. That was my personal life, and I didn’t want to share it. On the other hand, seeing myself like that gave me a kind of freedom!”

That freedom, and her search for it, keeps Bekhti going. “I don’t want to be blasé,” she says. “I want to stay wonderstruck. The day I no longer feel wonder, I’ll stop.”

Pierre Deladonchamps

“Sorry Angel,” “Little Tickles”

Deladonchamps arrived at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival a relative unknown and left on the fast track to stardom.

Before landing his first leading role in “Stranger by the Lake,” the actor spent a decade working bit parts in films and TV; then, he hit Cannes, and soon enough his lead debut carried Deladonchamps to the Césars, where he won the most promising newcomer award.

The critically acclaimed film “changed many things in my life,” says the actor. “It gave me a kind of legitimacy, recognition, and confidence.”

Since then he’s worked regularly, returning to the Césars with Philippe Lioret’s “A Kid” and to Cannes with André Techiné’s “Golden Years.” This year, he is back on the Croisette with a one-two-punch of “Sorry Angel” in competition and “Little Tickles” in Un Certain Regard.

“The public discovered me with ‘Stranger,’ which was a radical, very austere work. I didn’t breakout with a mainstream hit, and so I’m not the first person people think of when casting such films,” he notes.

That may change later on this year, when he co-stars in the dysfunctional family comedy “Big Bang” alongside a number of popular comic stars. While the lighter crowd-pleaser may be somewhat of a departure from his usual weightier fare, the role still fit the actor’s high standards.

“When offered a script, if I see something important to say, I’ll take it,” he says. “While there are plenty of comic bits, the film is not only laughs for laughs sake … I like comedies that use laughs in service of an affecting story. That’s why I’m trying to do.”

Vanessa Filho

“Angel Face”

From rock star (the duo Smoking Smoking) to art photographer to documentarian, Filho has worn many hats throughout her career, but one thing has always remained a constant: since the age of 13, she has always wanted to direct features. And “at a certain point, I couldn’t keep on several different paths at the same time. I really threw myself into writing.”

Though the filmmaker had to put certain artistic pursuits on pause while making “Angel Face,” which stars Marion Cotillard as a wayward mother and premieres in Un Certain Regard, the project is something of a culmination of her diverse experiences.

“Music and film are indistinguishable to me,” says Filho. “There’s a lyrical dimension to film, and music is an intrinsic part of the creation of the overall work.”

Indeed, the project presented itself as but one more opportunity to work with longtime collaborators Smoking Smoking bandmate Audrey Ismaël and rocker Olivier Coursier, for whom she has directed several music videos.

Moreover, Filho’s background in music and photography most helped when working with 8-year-old actress Ayline Aksoy-Etaix, around whom the film is centered.

“Working with a child is a singular experience,” says the filmmaker. “It’s full of accidents and emotions and things out of your control. I really like that way of working: you plan as much as you can and then give yourself up to surprise and improvisation.… You always want that combination where things are prepared to the maximum, and then to be able to forget them in the instant and let yourself be guided by emotion.”

Romain Gavras

“Born Free”

Every time Michèle Ray-Gavras would produce one of her husband, Costa-Gavras’, films, their family home would become the shoot’s main production office, with actors and set designers waltzing in and out. So, naturally, their son Romain never once considered another career. “You don’t become a lawyer or a doctor or something that makes sense for the parents. I didn’t see any other routes,” says Gavras fils.

Though the filmmaker followed his parents and siblings into the family business, he’s made his biggest impact in the world of music videos, directing clips for the likes Justice, M.I.A., Kanye West and Jay-Z.

He’s developing an urgent, politically agitated style that uncomfortably matches our current fractious landscape. “I should ask for a copyright for a lot of those apocalyptic [images in the news] because it seems like they’ve been ripped off from some of my videos,” he offers with a grim laugh.

Still, despite his vast experience shooting in L.A. (“If you want a guy that has only one leg, and a prosthetic he can blow up at the same time, you can find that!”), when it comes to features, Gavras prefers his native country.

“I think my voice is more interesting in France,” he explains. “For me, Europe is a playground that has a lot of unknown territories in terms of pop culture. In terms of modern film grammar, there’s still a lot to do in Europe. I would go to Los Angeles to shoot commercials and stuff like that, but you make films so much better in your own voice.”

More Film

  • President of the Jury, Mexican director

    Cannes Film Festival 2019 Winners Announced (Updating Live)

    CANNES — The awards show for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival competition is underway. Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven” earned a special mention from the jury. A droll commentary — from a director whose Jacques Tati-like screen persona hardly ever speaks — on his country’s troubles, as reflected through his travels to Paris and [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally agreed upon that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies by iconic [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe's The Lighthouse' Wins Cannes Critics' Award

    Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, won the Cannes Film Festival critics’ award for best first or second feature in Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, one of the first prizes for which “The Lighthouse” has been eligible at Cannes. The award was announced Saturday in Cannes by the Intl. Federation of [...]

  • promenade Cannes Croisette Cannes Placeholder

    Cannes Market Claims Record Visitor Numbers

    The Cannes Market, the Cannes Film Festival’s commercial wing, says that its 2019 edition welcomed a record number of participants. It reported 12,527 attendees. The largest group by nationality was from the U.S. with 2,264 participants, followed by France with 1,943 participants, and the U.K. 1,145. Comparable figures for 2018 were not available. The number [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Alien' at 40: Ridley Scott Explains Why 'You Don't Show the Monster Too Many Times'

    It’s difficult to imagine Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien” without the clear-minded, strong presence of Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the captain of the ill-fated Nostromo. But originally, the actor turned down “Alien,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, though he thought Dan O’Bannon’s script read well. “There was nobody involved at the time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content