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Cannes 2011 film profiles: Directors Fortnight & Critics Week

The low-down on all the films in Directors’ Fortnight & Critics Week, with international sales contacts for each project.

Directors’ Fortnight

Opening film

Breathing (Atmen) (Aust)

Dir: Karl Markovics

The directorial debut of The Counterfeiters’ lead actor Markovics, Breathing is the story of a young man’s search for his mother after he discovers the body of a nameless woman in a Viennese morgue. Produced by epo-film.

Int’l sales: Films Distribution

Contact: fry@filmsdistribution.com

The giants (Les Geants) (Bel-Fr-Lux)

Dir: Bouli Lanners

Lanners’ previous two films, Ultranova and Eldorado, were feted for their Aki Kaurismaki-like laconic humour and dreamy pace. The Giants could be the Belgian actor-director’s most popular film yet, a summer-set movie about boredom interrupted when a teenager teams up with two home-alone boys. Haut et Court co-produced the film with Belgium’s Versus Production and Luxembourg’s Samsa Film, and will release in France.

Int’l sales: Memento Films International

Contact: sales@memento-films.com

Porfirio (Col-Sp-Uru-Arg-Fr)

Dir: Alejandro Landes

One of the most intriguing titles in this year’s Fortnight, Porfirio is the humorous story of a bed-ridden man who dreams he can fly. This is the debut fiction feature from Brazilian film-maker Landes, who made 2007 documentary Cocalero about a Bolivian farmer.

Int’l sales: Arri Media

Contact: arri-mediaworldsales.de

O Abismo Prateado (Braz)

Dir: Karim Ainouz

This fourth feature from Brazilian-Algerian visual artist and writer-director Ainouz, O Abismo Prateado stars Alessandra Negrini as a married dentist who receives a mysterious phone call which leads her on a romantic odyssey through the moonlit streets of Rio. Ainouz’s first feature, Madame Sata, screened in Un Certain Regard in 2002.

Contact: RT Features - (55) 11 3889 0103

The Fairy (La Fee) (Fr-Bel)

Dirs: Dominique Abel, Bruno Romy, Fiona Gordon

The directorial trio Abel, Romy and Gordon premiered their near-silent, dance-based comedy Rumba in Critics’ Week in 2008 and now return to the Croisette withThe Fairy, which follows a similar format. Abel stars as a night porter who falls in love with a fairy, played by Gordon.

Int’l sales: MK2 International

Contact: mk2@mk2.com

On The plank (Sur La Planche) (Fr-Mor-Ger)

Dir: Leila Kilani

Set in the Moroccan port of Tangier, Casablanca-born documentary maker Kilani’s debut dramatic feature captures the lives of four female workers in a shrimp-packaging factory. The Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s SANAD fund, aimed at Arab world film-makers, was one of the film’s backers.

Int’l sales: Aurora Films

Contact: mylene@auraurafims.fr

Iris In Bloom (En Ville) (Fr)

Dirs: Valérie Mréjen, Bertrand Schefer

Having collaborated on several short films, French writer and multimedia artist Mréjen and writer Schefer debut their first feature-length fiction. Set against the backdrop of a provincial coastal town, IrisIn Bloom follows a love affair between a bored teenager and a 40-year-old Paris-based photographer. Up-and-coming French actress Lola Créton stars. The film is produced by Aurora Films (which also made The Fairy) with Le Fresnoy, the national studio for contemporary arts.

Int’l sales: Films Boutique

Contact: info@filmsboutique.com

The End Of Silence (La Fin Du Silence) (Fr-Aust)

Dir: Roland Edzard

Edzard, who won a Cinéfondation award in 2005 for his short La Plaine, returns to Cannes with this edgy thriller set in France’s remote mountainous region of Vosges. Following a family fight, a young man disappears into the forest with a rifle. Emmy-winning Thierry Frémont and Carlo Brandt lead a cast which features several big-screen debutants. Unlimited’s Philippe Avril produced the feature alongside a slew of French co-producers and Austria’s Dor Film.

Int’l sales: Doc & Film International

Contact: international@docandfilm.com

Unforgivable (Impardonnables) (Fr-It)

Dir: André Téchiné

Téchiné returns to the Croisette with a loose adaptation of Philippe Djian’s novel Impardonnables, transferring the action from France to Venice. André Dussollier stars as a writer who hires a young offender to tail his lover, played by Carole Bouquet, whom he suspects of infidelity. Said Ben Said produced Unforgivable alongside co-producers Italian CRG and French broadcaster France 3 Cinema.

Int’l sales: TFI International

Contact: sales@tf1.fr

Busong (Phil)

Dir: Auraeus Solito

The first film in the language of the Palawan tribe of the Philippines, from which Solito hails, Busong follows a disabled woman who is carried everywhere by her brother as they search for someone to heal her. ‘Busong’ is the Palawan concept of fate or instant Karma. Solito’s first film, The Blossoming OfMaximo Oliveros, won a raft of awards on the festival circuit in 2006 and he has since directed three other features. This is his first time in Cannes.

Int’l sales: Solito Arts Productions

Contact: auraeus_solito@yahoo.com

Mushrooms (Chatrak) (Ind-Fr)

Dir: Vimukthi Jayasundara

Sri Lankan-born film-maker Jayasundara won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2005 for The ForsakenLand, while his second film, Between Two Worlds, premiered in competition at Venice in 2009. His third feature, Mushrooms, set in West Bengal, follows a couple who take a trip into the forest where the man’s brother is said to have gone back to nature. It is co-produced by France’s Les Films de l’Etranger, Wallpaper Productions and Bear Called Dog.

Int’l sales: Vandana Trading Company

Contact: vinod.lahoti7@gmail.com

Volcano (Eldfjall) (Den-Ice)

Dir Runar Runarsson

It is not often a debut feature director arrives at a festival with such an impressive track record — two of Runarsson’s shorts, 2 Birds and Anna, have been screened in Cannes and his The Last Farm was nominated for a short film Oscar. This Iceland-set story follows an elderly man trying to adjust to life after retirement. Iceland’s renowned Zik Zak produced with Denmark’s Fine & Mellow.

Int’l sales: TrustNordisk

Contact: info@trustnordisk.com

Blue Bird (Bel)

Dir: Gus Van Den Berghe

Two features in back-to-back Quinzaines? Not bad for a 25-year-old former skateboarder. Van Den Berghe’s Little Baby Jesus of Flandr screened in Directors’ Fortnight last year. Blue Bird is a Togo-shot drama loosely inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck’s play L’Oiseau Bleu about two children from a remote African village who search for a mysterious blue bird. The director says the film is the second part of his planned triptych about birth, the road and death.

Int’l sales: The Coproduction Office

Contact: bureau@coproductionoffice.eu

Code Blue (Neth-Den)

Dir: Urszula Antoniak

Antoniak’s second feature was selected for the Cinéfondation Atelier in 2010 and shot in Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The dark drama is about a middle-aged nurse, played by Bien de Moor, who is afraid of intimacy but engages with a neighbour after they witness a crime. Antoniak directed 2009’s festival hit Nothing Personal, a prize-winner at Locarno.

Int’l sales: Bavaria Film International

Contact: international@bavaria-film.de

The Other Side of Sleep (Ire-Hung-Neth)

Dir: Rebecca Daly

Daly is the first female Irish film-maker to be in contention for Cannes’ Camera d’Or. The Other Side OfSleep is a thriller about a young woman prone to sleepwalking who becomes obsessed with a local murder investigation. Antonia Campbell-Hughes, whose credits include Bright Star, plays the lead. Daly developed the project while taking part in the Cannes Cinéfondation Residence du Festival in Paris in 2008, co-writing the screenplay with Glenn Montgomery.

Int’l sales: Memento Films

Contact: sales@memento-films.com

Corpo Celeste (It-Switz-Fr)

Dir: Alice Rohrwacher

Rosa Bosch’s Tempesta Film has produced this coming-of-age story about a teenager struggling to adapt to her family’s move back to southern Italy after a decade in Switzerland. This is writer-director Rohrwacher’s first feature, and the debut film role for young Yile Vianello. Look for a scene-stealing performance from Calabrian housewife Pasqualina Scuncia.

Int’l sales: RAI Trade

Contact: rossi@rai.it

Return (US)

Dir: Liza Johnson

Linda Cardellini plays a soldier who experiences an uneasy return to her home town after a tour of duty. Michael Shannon, who can be seen in Critics’ Week entry Take Shelter, also stars. Return is the directorial debut of short-filmmaker Johnson.

Contact: Two Point One Films - info@twopointonefilms.com

Heatwave (Apres Le Sud) (Fr)

Dir Jean-Jacques Jauffret

This first feature film from former assistant director turned writer-producer-director Jauffret is set during one hot afternoon in the south of France as four lives intersect and hurtle towards potential tragedy. Adele Haenel, Sylvie Lachat, Ulysse Grosjean and Yves Ruellan star in the film, which is produced by Explicit Films.

Int’l sales: Visit Films

Contact: rey@visitfilms.com

The Island (Bulg-Swe)

Dir: Kamen Kalev

Laetitia Casta stars as a woman who surprises her boyfriend (Thure Lindhardt) with a holiday to Bulgaria only to discover he was born there, as secrets are subsequently revealed. Bulgarian director Kalev made a splash in 2009 with Eastern Plays which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight before impressing on the festival circuit.

Int’l sales: Le Pacte

Contact: contact@le-pacte.com

The Silence Of Joan (Jeanne Captive) (Fr)

Dir: Philippe Ramos

Clémence Poésy stars as Joan of Arc in this historical drama from Ramos. The director’s track record is quirky — his 2007 film Captain Ahab imagined the back story of Moby Dick — so his vision of Joan of Arc is one to watch. Thierry Frémont, Liam Cunningham and Mathieu Amalric co-star.

Int’l sales: Films Distribution

Contact: info@filmsdistribution.com

Play (Swe-Fr-Den)

Dirs: Ruben Ostlund, Erik Hemmendorff

A drama about bullying, based on the real case of a group of young teenagers who robbed around 70 other children in Gothenburg using intricate role-play rather than violence, this could be one of the hits of the Fortnight.

Int’l sales: The CoProduction Office

Contact: info@coproductionoffice.eu

Critics’ Week

Sauna On Moon (Chi)

Dir: Zou Peng

Zou’s second feature follows a group of people working in a sauna in the Chinese city of Guangdong, which is supposedly at the forefront of the country’s economic development and reforms. His first feature, A North Chinese Girl, played in the Panorama section at Berlin in 2009.

Int’l sales: Zou Peng Film Studios

Contact: saunaonmoon@gmail.com

Snowtown (Aus)

Dir: Justin Kurzel

This intense feature debut won the audience award at the Adelaide Film Festival earlier this year, lining it up for the sort of buzz that kicked Samson & Delilah into international orbit. Warp Film Australia’s first production, horror-thriller Snowtown follows the true story of a teenage boy who falls under the spell of notorious serial killer John Bunting. Madman has Australian rights and releases locally on May 19.

Int’l sales: Protagonist Pictures

Contact: info@protagonistpictures.com

Las Acacias (Arg-Sp)

Dir: Pablo Giorgelli

The feature debut of Argentina’s Giorgelli, Las Acacias is set on the motorway between Asuncion in Paraguay and Buenos Aires in Argentina and tells the story of a truck driver transporting a woman and her baby. Written by Giorgelli and Salvador Roselli, the film stars German de Silva, Hebe Duarte and Nayra Calle Mamani.

Contact: Ariel Rotter, Airecine - arielrotter@hotmail.com

Ave (Bulg-Fr)

Dir: Konstantin Bojanov

While hitchhiking to a funeral, a young man meets a 17-year-old runaway who is looking for her drug-addicted brother. Sold internationally by Le Pacte, the Bulgarian-language Avé is directed by Bojanov, whose previous projects include Invisible, an acclaimed documentary about heroin addicts in Sofia. Bojanov co-wrote Avé with Arnold Barkus and produced alongside Dimitar Gotchev and Geoffroy Grison.

Int’l sales: Le Pacte

Contact: c.neel@le-pacte.com

17 Girls (17 Filles) (Fr)

Dirs: Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin

Based on a true story, 17 Girls follows a group of teens who decide to become pregnant at the same time. Written and directed by Delphine and Muriel Coulin, the film is produced by Archipel 35 and co-produced by Arte France Cinéma. Diaphana will release in France.

Int’l sales: Films Distribution

Contact: fry@filmsdistribution.com

Take Shelter (US)

Dir: Jeff Nichols

The widely admired young US film-maker Nichols made waves with his 2009 debut Shotgun Stories and may have gone one better with Take Shelter, a Sundance favourite starring Michael Shannon as a man plagued by apocalyptic visions. Jessica Chastain, who also stars in Terrence Malick’s Competition title The Tree Of Life, lends support. Sony Pictures Classics will release later this year and holds North American, Latin American, Australian and New Zealand rights.

Int’l sales: FilmNation

Contact: www.wearefilmnation.com

The Slut (Isr-Ger)

Dir Hagar Ben Asher

Directed, written and starring first-time film-maker Ben Asher, this exciting new Israeli film is about a young mother who is considered promiscuous by members of the agricultural community in which she lives, and the man with whom she falls in love. Ben Asher wrote the script for The Slut while at the Cannes Cinéfondation in Paris, developing it from her short film Pathways.

Int’l sales: Films Distribution

Contact: info@filmsdistribution.com

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