Screen profiles the animations, docs, Hong Kong omnibus and five French comedies in Thierry Fremaux’s Cannes 2020 Official Selection.
Downstream To Kinshasa (Congo-Fr-Bel)
Dir. Dieudo Hamadi
More than 6,000 people died in the June 2000 Six-Day War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involving rebel groups allied with Uganda and Rwanda. This feature documentary follows victims of the war decades later as they journey down the Congo River, seeking justice with officials in the capital city Kinshasa. Congolese director Hamadi’s past documentary features include Kinshasa Makambo, National Diploma and Mama Colonel. It marks the first Cannes selection for any director from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Contact: Andana Films
Nine Days In Raqqa (Fr)
Dir. Xavier de Lauzanne
This is a portrait of Leila Mustapha, a Kurdish Syrian civil engineer who was elected mayor of her home city Raqqa after it was liberated from the Islamic State. Operating in a man’s world, her mission is to rebuild her city, enable reconciliation and create a democracy. French writer and foreign correspondent Marine de Tilly travels through Iraq and Syria to spend nine days with Mustapha in the still dangerous city, working on a book that will tell her story. De Lauzanne’s previous documentaries include Little Gems (Les Pepites).
Contact: Caroline Florentin, Aloest Films
The Truffle Hunters (It-US-Gre)
Dirs. Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
Acclaimed as one of the best documentaries to premiere in Sundance this year, The Truffle Hunters follows several northern Italian men and their faithful hounds as they search for the rare tartufo bianco in the forests of Piedmont. Luca Guadagnino was a producer; Sony Pictures Classics acquired worldwide rights from Submarine in Park City.
Contact: Sony Pictures Classics
THE FRENCH COMEDIES
The Big Hit (Fr)
Dir. Emmanuel Courcol
Kad Merad stars as a struggling actor, running theatre workshops in a local prison, who takes a troupe of convicts on tour with a performance of Samuel Beckett’s famous play Waiting For Godot. The high-spirited comedy-drama is inspired by the true story of a planned performance of the play by convicts in Sweden in 1985, which had to be abandoned after the cast escaped.
Contact: mk2 Films
French Tech (Fr)
Dir. Bruno Podalydès
Actor and director Podalydès’ comedy-drama also stars his brother Denis Podalydès as an unemployed man left in sole charge of his children while his wife (Sandrine Kiberlain) is away on a top secret nuclear submarine mission. Unable to contact his wife when funds run out, he takes a job at a start-up company with a strict no-child policy and embarks on a double life.
Contact: Eva Diederix, Wild Bunch International
My Donkey, My Lover & I (Fr)
Dir. Caroline Vignal
Laure Calamy stars as school teacher whose plans to holiday with her secret lover, the father of one of her pupils, are dashed when his wife organises a surprise donkey trekking holiday in the Cévennes National Park. She decides to follow in their footsteps, in the company of a protective but obstinate donkey of her own.
L’Origine Du Monde (Fr-Bel)
Dir. Laurent Lafitte
Vincent Macaigne stars as a man who realises his heart has stopped beating, even though he continues to think, talk and walk. No-one can decide whether he is alive or dead. His wife consults her life-coach who suggests an extremely awkward solution. Adapted from a play by Sébastien Thiéry, it is the directorial debut of actor Lafitte, a red carpet regular with films such as Elle and See You Up There, who was master of ceremonies for the Cannes festival’s opening in 2016 and co-stars here alongside Macaigne and Karin Viard.
The Speech (Fr)
Dir. Laurent Tirard
Benjamin Lavernhe plays a downtrodden young man whose life is sent into a tailspin after his girlfriend walks out on him and his sister’s fiancé asks him to make a speech at their upcoming marriage. The request sends him off into a myriad of daydreams about what he can do to dodge the request. It is the eighth feature for respected director Tirard who is best known for his work in comedy and family entertainment, with recent credits including Up For Love (2016) and Return Of The Hero (2018), which both starred Jean Dujardin.
THE OMNIBUS FILM
Septet: The Story Of Hong Kong (HK)
Dirs. Ann Hui, Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo-Ping, Patrick Tam
Seven of Hong Kong’s leading filmmakers have come together to each direct a short film set in Hong Kong during one decade from the 1940s to the 2000s. The project was initiated by Johnnie To, as a tribute to his home city, and was shot on film in honour of the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, during which all seven of the directors first emerged. The segment directed by Ringo Lam, about a Hong Kong family that has settled in the UK returning to visit the city, is the late director’s last project.
Contact: Fred Tsui, Media Asia
Earwig And The Witch (Jap)
Dir. Gorô Miyazaki
The third film directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, following Tales From Earthsea (2006) and From Up On Poppy Hill (2011), Earwig And The Witch is Studio Ghibli’s first film animated entirely in 3D CG. Based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones, who also wrote the novel that Howl’s Moving Castle is based on, it tells the story of a girl living in an orphanage who must use all her wits to survive when she is adopted by a witch. Studio Ghibli produced with Japanese broadcaster NHK and NHK Enterprises, which plans to air the film in winter 2020. There are currently no plans for a theatrical release in Japan.
Contact: Eva Diederix, Wild Bunch International
Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
This hybrid documentary which mixes animation with historical archive footage follows Amin, who as a boy was forced to flee Afghanistan and arrives in Denmark on his own after five years of running – and has before never told the real story about how he arrived to the country. The director previously directed documentary features Searching For Bill (2012) and What He Did (2015); the lead production company is Final Cut For Real (The Act Of Killing).
French cartoonist Aurel pays tribute to the colourful figure of Catalan artist and left-wing political cartoonist Josep Bartoli, who fled Franco’s dictatorship in 1939 only to be interned in a French concentration camp until 1943. He turned these experience into a book of drawings which served as inspiration for the film.
Contact: The Party Films Sales
Dir. Pete Docter
The latest from Pixar head Docter, whose Inside Out and Up both launched on the Croisette, arrives with plenty of buzz and follows a musician whose passion has died and must find his way back after he becomes detached from his body. Jamie Foxx, Richard Ayoade, Tina Fey, Angela Bassett and Quest Love are among the vocal talents, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provided the score. Disney has set a November 20 US release date.
Contact: The Walt Disney Compan