Directors' Fortnight, Critics' Week Comment: Experimentation and discovery to the fore

Directors' Fortnight

Marie-Pierre Macia in her second year as chief selector of the Directors' Fortnight (La Quinzaine Des Realisateurs) has picked an eclectic mixture with very few well-known directors.

The biggest names are Amos Kollek, in Cannes last year with Fast Food, Fast Women and Sandrine Veysset, who previously directed festival favourite Will It Snow At Christmas' and this time opens the event with Martha... Martha.

As such the Fortnight provides the key element that balances out the whole festival selection. If the competition this year is dominated by the emperors of the art-house genre, Un Certain Regard focuses on other known players in experimental mode, then the Director's Fortnight and the Critics' Week provide the true scope for discoveries.

For all that it is a more obscure line-up, the Fortnight is in tune with the other sections in emphasizing films from France, the US, the three Chinas (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) and the CIS fringe. As with the other sections there are no pictures from Scandinavia, the UK, Germany or Spain.

Patrick Frater IN LONDON

Critics' Week

Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes - which is to be given a special screening - will be the token British film in a wide-ranging Critics Week line-up which includes no other English-language title.

The sidebar, which runs 10-18 May and is managed by France's film critics' union, has picked a selection of challenging films from first and second time directors.

The absence of contemporary English-language pictures comes despite chief selector Jose Maria Riba apparent interest in three or four of the 70 screened.

There is only one French film, Bertrand Bonello's sexually explicit Le Pornographe, a story of a man who discovers that his father is not a mainstream film director. The paucity of French pictures may reflect the large number that believe they have a good chance of getting into the official selection. French Canada is also represented through Bernard Emond's La Femme Qui Boit, the story of an out of control alcoholic.

Other tough pictures include Iranian religious comedy Under The Moonlight and Bolivia, a monochrome drama about an economic migrant who drift to Buenos Aires. As usual, the section features a host of first films which will also compete for the Golden Camera award. These include La Femme Qui Boit, Unloved by Japanese film-maker Kunitoshi Manda, Italy's Almost Blue (Quasi Blu) by Alex Infascelli as well as Efimeri Poli by Greece's Giorgos Zafiris.

The section opens with a special screening of Michel Piccoli's directorial debut La Plage Noire, a drama about a man exiled within his own land. It closes with Marion Haensel's Clouds (Nuages), a series of skyscapes intermingled with poetry and on-screen texts.

In between is a tribute to Loach, the section's godfather. In addition to the screening of Kes on Sunday May 13, he will take part in a film-making debate with the section's other directors.

The Official selection (main competition, Un Certain Regard, special screenings and Cinefondation) will be announced on Thursday ( April 16) and the Directors' Fortnight Wed 26 April.

Francoise Meaux Saint Marc IN PARIS & Patrick Frater IN LONDON