Screen staff preview each of the titles in the Cannes Un Certain Regard section, which this year’s includes films from Kantemir Balagov, Annie Silverstein, Albert Serra, Bruno Dumont, Midi Z and Christophe Honoré.
Adam (Mor-Fr-Bel) - Dir. Maryam Touzani
Touzani lands in Un Certain Regard with her first feature but is no stranger to the A-list festival circuit. The Moroccan writer/filmmaker/actress collaborates with her director husband Nabil Ayouch and starred in his last feature Razzia. This debut solo work stars Incendies actress Lubna Azabal (also to be seen in Directors’ Fortnight selection Ghost Tropic) and Nisrin Erradi as two women — one unmarried and pregnant, the other a struggling widow — who connect in Casablanca. Ayouch produces with Paris-based Amine Benjelloun, as well as Patrick Quinet at Brussels-based Artemis.
Contact: Films Boutique
Beanpole (Rus) - Dir. Kantemir Balagov
Two years after his gritty and controversial debut Closeness premiered in Un Certain Regard and a year after he served on the section’s jury, Balagov returns with this tale of two women who try to rebuild their lives in the ruined city of Leningrad at the end of the Second World War. Wild Bunch has already sold to France (ARP) and Spain (BTeam Pictures). Producer Alexander Rodnyansky was behind Andrey Zvyagintsev’s well-received Cannes Competition titles Leviathan and Loveless.
Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch
The Bears’ Famous Invasion Of Sicily (Fr-It) - Dir. Lorenzo Mattotti
Having previously contributed a segment to animated feature Fear(s) Of The Dark, Mattotti makes his feature directing debut with this animation, adapted from the Dino Buzzati novel by a writing team including the filmmaker and Thomas Bidegain — the latter a frequent Jacques Audiard collaborator and the director of 2015 Directors’ Fortnight entry Les Cowboys. The film is produced by France 3 Cinema, France’s Prima Linea Productions and Italy’s Indigo Film.
A Brother’s Love (Can) - Dir. Monia Chokri
Chokri shot A Brother’s Love in Montreal last year and has crafted a drama about an aspiring philosophy lecturer who moves in temporarily with her older brother and falls in love with her doctor. The lead cast includes Anne-Elisabeth Bossé, Patrick Hivon and Sasson Gabai. Regular Xavier Dolan producer partner Nancy Grant (who is also in Cannes with Dolan’s Matthias & Maxime) produces with Sylvain Corbeil.
Contact: Seville International
Bull (US) - Dir. Annie Silverstein
Texas-based Silverstein won the Cinéfondation award in Cannes 2014 for her short film Skunk about a dog owner who stands up for her pitbull. Silverstein switches the focus to a wayward teen (Amber Havard making her debut) who strikes up a life-changing relationship with her stubborn neighbour, an ageing man on the rodeo circuit (Stranger Things’ Rob Morgan). Bert Marcus (Ophelia) is among the producers. Film Constellation handles international sales. Contact: Film Constellation
The Climb (US) - Dir. Michael Covino
This comedy-drama, based on Covino’s 2018 Sundance short of the same name, follows two friends in a complicated relationship who enter a biking competition. Kyle Marvin and Covino star and also produce in this Topic Studios and Watch This Ready title.
Contact: Memento Films International
Freedom (Fr) - Dir. Albert Serra
Having played in Directors’ Fortnight twice with Honour The Knights (2006) and Birdsong (2008), Spanish-born Serra follows his 2016 Special Screenings outing The Death Of Louis XIV with his latest Cannes selection. Freedom is set during the reign of Louis XVI, a few years before the French Revolution, and focuses on libertine aristocrats exiled from the royal court. Serra also produces alongside Pierre-Olivier Bardet, regular collaborator Joaquim Sapinho and Montse Triola.
Contact: Films Boutique
Homeward (Ukr) - Dir. Nariman Aliev
Developed through the 2018 Midpoint Feature Launch programme, this debut film by Ukrainian director Aliev follows a Tartar father and his youngest son as they attempt to take the body of the elder son home to Russian-occupied Crimea for burial. The director’s short film Without You — part of his Crimean stories trilogy — screened at the Berlinale in 2016. Emerging producer Vladimir Yatsenko’s last feature project was Yaroslav Lodygin’s Ukrainian novel adaptation Wild Fields, which premiered last year at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch
Invisible Life (Braz) - Dir. Karim Aïnouz
The director returns to Cannes after Madame Sata (2002) screened in Un Certain Regard, and The Silver Cliff (2011) played in Directors’ Fortnight. Invisible Life (aka The Invisible Life Of Euridice Gusmao) chronicles feminism in Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, told from the perspective of two sisters separated by difficult circumstances. Fernanda Montenegro, nominated for an Oscar for Central Station (1998), makes a cameo in this drama produced by Rodrigo Teixeira, best known for producing Call Me By Your Name (2017) and Frances Ha (2012). Contact: The Match Factory
Joan Of Arc (Fr) - Dir. Bruno Dumont
An often-controversial Cannes regular since his second film Humanity played in Competition in 1999, Dumont most recently competed with 2016’s Slack Bay. Now he follows up his 2017 Directors’ Fortnight entry Jeannette: The Childhood Of Joan Of Arc, an idiosyncratic musical about the childhood and adolescence of Joan of Arc. This second chapter — in which Lise Leplat Prudhomme returns in the lead — covers more familiar territory, from the Siege of Orleans to Joan’s death. Jean Bréhat produced for 3B Productions.
Contact: Hédi Zardi, Luxbox
Nina Wu (Tai-Malay-Myan-Ger) - Dir. Midi Z
Midi Z earns his first Cannes slot with a mystery thriller inspired by the #MeToo movement that follows the struggles of an aspiring actress. This is the first Mandarin-language film by the Myanmar-born filmmaker to shoot in his adopted home Taiwan. The cast includes Midi Z’s regular actress Wu Kexi (who is also the writer), Vivian Sung (Our Times) and Kimi Hsia. Midi Z’s previous films and documentaries travelled widely to top festivals, including The Road To Mandalay in Venice and Ice Poison in the Berlinale.
Contact: Seashore Image
On A Magical Night (Fr) - Dir. Christophe Honoré
Versatile writer/director Honoré scores his fifth film in official selection, a year after his much-praised Competition entry Sorry Angel. Produced by Philippe Martin and David Thion for Les Films Pelléas, On A Magical Night stars Chiara Mastroianni as a woman who leaves her husband but moves into a hotel room opposite their flat to keep tabs on her former life. Sorry Angel’s Vincent Lacoste returns alongside Carole Bouquet, Camille Cottin (star of Netflix series Call My Agent) and singer/actor Benjamin Biolay.
Once In Trubchevsk (Rus) - Dir. Larisa Sadilova
Russia’s Sadilova directed five features between 1998 and 2010, with her last feature, Sonny, premiering nine years ago in Rotterdam. Her long hiatus now ends with the arrival of the filmmaker’s Cannes debut — a “chronicle from the village of Troubtchevsk” that is described as evoking “feelings of love in the contemporary Russian countryside”.
Contact: Loco Films
Papicha (Fr-Bel-Qat) - Dir. Mounia Meddour
French-Algerian filmmaker Meddour makes her Un Certain Regard debut with this timely drama set during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s. It revolves around a free-spirited student who refuses to ditch her dreams of being a fashion designer in the face of rising violence and conservatism. In an act of resistance, she puts on a fashion show but it comes with a human cost. Meddour’s husband, the French genre director Xavier Gens, produced the feature under his The Ink Connection banner.
Port Authority (US-Fr) - Dir Danielle Lessovitz
Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer on this feature directing debut, set in the world of New York’s ballroom voguing scene, where a young man is forced to confront his feelings for someone when he learns she is transgender. Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), transgender dancer/model/actress Leyna Bloom and McCaul Lombardi (American Honey) star in the film from Madeleine Films, RT Features, Sikelia Productions and Mubi.
Contact: mk2 Films
Summer Of Changsha (China) - Dir. Zu Feng
Actor Zu’s directing debut is a detective thriller set in Hunan province’s Changsha city over one hot summer where a police detective finds himself drawn to a mysterious surgeon during the investigation of a bizarre murder case. Zu leads the cast with Huang Lu who was previously in Cannes with A Yellow Bird (Critics’ Week 2016) and Blind Mountain (Un Certain Regard 2007). Gootime Media’s Li Rui serves as producer — pervious credits include The Sword Identity (Venice International Film Festival 2011’s Horizons) and The Black Square (Tokyo International Film Festival 2012).
Contact: Gootime Media
A Sun That Never Sets (Sp-Fr-Lux) - Dir. Oliver Laxe
Paris-born Spanish director Laxe is something of a Cannes fixture already, winning a Fipresci prize with debut You Are All Captains (Directors’ Fortnight 2010) and returning with 2016’s Morocco-set Mimosas, which won the Nespresso grand prize in Critics’ Week. The third film from this stylistically explorative director features dialogue in the northern Spanish language of Galician. With backers including Galician TV and Film Fund Luxembourg, it is a rural drama following a convicted arsonist after his release from prison.
Contact: Pyramide International
The Swallows Of Kabul (Fr) - Dirs. Zabou Breitman, Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec
French actress and director Breitman has joined forces with Gobelins School of Visual Arts alumni Gobbé-Mévellec for this animated adaptation of Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra’s tragic tale capturing life in Kabul under the Taliban. It revolves around two couples whose lives become intertwined: one young and liberal and at odds with the strictures of Taliban rule, the other older and more conservative. The production, which took five years to bring to fruition, is produced by Les Armateurs, the Paris-based animation house behind Oscar-nominated The Triplets Of Belleville (2003) and Ernest And Celestine (2012), which also premiered in Cannes.
Contact: Celluloid Dreams