La Fabrique Cinéma, the French support program aimed at young filmmakers from emerging countries, presented a wide-ranging showcase of works from around the world at the Cannes online market on Tuesday, among them new works by Iranian filmmaker Keywann Karimi (“Drum”) and Thai helmer Sompot Chidgasornpongse (“Railway Sleepers”).
They are among 10 filmmakers taking part in the Institut Français’ La Fabrique Cinéma program, presenting projects in various stages of development with the aim of finding co-production partners.
The works explore such topical issues as the trauma of war and imprisonment, religion, gender identity, migration, mental illness, love and family.
In “Do You Know Anything About Omid?” Karimi tells the story of a middle-aged couple in Tehran who set off in search of their beloved cat, who has disappeared. The film examines 1980s Iran, right after the revolution, when many people were imprisoned and political prisoners, including communists, were executed.
“My film is about people searching for hope that has been lost,” Karimi explained. “I decided to make a film about this period because all struggles are only possible through the collective memory of past and present struggles.”
Karimi himself was sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes for his 2015 documentary “Writing on the City.” The idea for the film came to him as he sat under a tree in the prison courtyard, thinking about the fate of the many prisoners who came before him.
Chidgasornpongse’s “9 Temples to Heaven” explores religion and politics in Thailand with a story about a family of nine who take their grandmother on a merit-making trip to nine temples in one day with the hope to prolong her life, but their trip takes an unexpected turn.
The film is produced by Kissada Kamyoung and Palm d’Or-winning filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with whom Chidgasornpongse has regularly worked.
Iman Djionne’s Senegalese film “Coura + Oulèye” follows two young sisters from a polygamous family who get to know each other on a journey across Senegal following the death of their father. Souleymane Kebe of Sunuy Films is producing the debut feature.
“I wanted to explore what it means to be a woman in our African societies today,” said Djionne, adding that her story was about women in which “three generations clash, help each other and evolve together.”
In his documentary “The Nights Still Smell of Gunpowder,” Inadelso Cossa (“A Memory in Three Acts”) returns to his grandmother’s village in Mozambique in order to put together the fragmented memories of his childhood during the country’s civil war and reveal the untold stories that still haunt a generation. Cossa is producing via his 16mmFilmes.
Set in 1998 Vietnam, Ash Mayfair’s “Skin of Youth” explores identity, womanhood and family from the perspective of youths who don’t fit into accepted social norms. Young lovers San and Nam court Saigon’s criminal underworld to find enough money for San’s gender reassignment surgery, unaware that the price they have to pay will test their love and humanity.
Mayfair describes her vision for the film as “almost docu-fiction,” adding that it will be “fast-paced, raw and dynamic.” Ngoc Tran of An Nam Productions is producing.
Venezuelan director Valeria Valentina Bolivar examines mental illness and migration in “Without a Name.” Set in the Dominican Republic, the film follows Marcela, a schizophrenic woman, who falls in love with Joaquín, a Venezuelan immigrant who has left his son.
“I’m fascinated by humanity’s need to brand as strange anyone who doesn’t correspond to the conventions of appropriate behavior,” Bolivar said, adding that the film highlights issues she is “interested in deepening as a woman, Latin American and filmmaker.” Fernando Santos Diaz is producing via Guasabara Cine.
In “A Pair of Leather Clogs,” an absurdist comedy set in Kazakhstan, Olga Korotko tells the story of a single mother and company executive who is asked to organize a concert in honor of the President. Korotko is producing via her shingle Seven Rivers.
Inspired by a brutal video posted on social media of men torturing and killing a chained dog, Egyptian helmer Khaled Mansour’s “Seeking Haven for Mr. Rambo” tells the story of Rambo, a canine who faces a similar attack until Hassan, the protagonist, saves it and manages to find a safe sanctuary.
“I feel that we and stray animals have become so alike,” Mansour said. “We have no price; we are being killed, chased, imprisoned and tortured, which is why we are always looking over our shoulders, not knowing from where the danger will arrive.” Rasha Hosny of Patchwork Productions is producing.
Francisco Bahia’s Brazilian documentary “Babylon” examines xenophobia in modern-day Brazil as it follows a Haitian immigrant who turns to voodoo in order to investigate the death of a friend. Alice Riff of Sendero Filmes is producing.
In a documentary about overcoming trauma, Sara Stijović’s “Gina” centers on two women, Gina Markuš, a young Montenegrin woman who, in 1950s Yugoslavia, was sentenced to the high security prison on the Adriatic island of Goli Otok, and her niece, Marina, who visits the island in the present day.
Produced by Branimir Žugić of Live Production, “Gina” is a film about overcoming trauma and a look at the impact of imprisonment on women in Yugoslavia – a topic that has rarely been explored, according to Stijović.