Screen profiles the 14 features of filmmakers selected by Cannes for the first time for the festival’s 2020 label.
Dir. Francis Lee
Lee’s anticipated second film following the low-budget critical hit God’s Own Country is a romantic drama starring Kate Winslet as a Victorian-era palaeontologist who forms an intense bond with the wife of a wealthy man entrusted to her care, played by Saoirse Ronan. Produced by See Saw Films, with backing from the BFI and BBC Films, Ammonite has sold strongly around the world.
Contact: Cross City Films
Enfant Terrible (Ger)
Dir. Oskar Roehler
The tumultuous life and career of Rainer Werner Fassbinder is explored in this biopic of the late iconic German director. Oliver Masucci, who played Hitler in satirical comedy Look Who’s Back, takes the starring role. German filmmaker Roehler reunites with co-writer Klaus Richter, with whom he previously worked on controversial historical drama Jew Suss: Rise And Fall. Roehler is a three-time Golden Bear nominee and was in Directors’ Fortnight in 2000 with No Place To Go. The film is produced by Bavaria Filmproduktion in co-production with X Filme Creative Pool.
Contact: Picture Tree International
Dir. Kamen Kalev
Inspired by the life of his grandfather, Bulgarian filmmaker Kalev spotlights three moments in the life of a man at ages eight, 18 and 82, whose existence seems to be preordained. Kalev is no stranger to Cannes, with his debut Eastern Plays (2009) and The Island (2011) selected for Directors’ Fortnight. His short My Dear Night was the opening film of the The Bridges Of Sarajevo omnibus, which was in Special Screenings at Cannes in 2014. February is produced by Kalev’s Waterfront Film and co-produced by France’s Koro Films.
Contact: Memento Films International
A Good Man (Fr)
Dir. Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire star Noémie Merlant plays a trans man who decides to go through pregnancy for the love of his long-time partner, who is desperate for a family but unable to have children. Soko, best known internationally for her roles in Stephanie di Giusto’s The Dancer and Alice Winocour’s Augustine, co-stars. Producer and writer/director Mention-Schaar’s directorial credits include 2016’s Heaven Will Wait, which also starred Merlant.
Contact: Pyramide International
Here We Are (Isr-It)
Dir. Nir Bergman
Israeli filmmaker Bergman makes his Cannes debut with this heartwarming tale of a father who decides to hit the road with his young-adult autistic son rather than commit him to a special home. It is a fifth feature for Bergman whose debut work Broken Wings, about a family coping with the sudden death of the father, premiered at Berlin in 2002. The multi-hatted director is also known as the co-creator of popular Israeli TV series In Treatment.
Contact: mk2 Films
Dir. Ben Sharrock
The offbeat story of refugees waiting to be granted asylum on a fictional Scottish island shot for five weeks on The Uists in the Outer Hebrides. Amir El-Masry stars with Vikash Bhai, Ola Orebiyi and Kwabena Ansah, along with Sidse Babett Knudsen and Kais Nashif and various non-professional actors. Sharrock won the prestigious Michael Powell award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival for his debut feature Pikadero in 2016. Film4, Screen Scotland and the BFI have backed the project.
Contact: Protagonist Pictures
Love Affair(s) (Fr)
Dir. Emmanuel Mouret
Camelia Jordana, Emilie Dequenne, Niels Schneider and Vincent Macaigne star in this contemporary romantic drama about a love triangle. Jordana plays a pregnant young woman who gets unintentionally close to her partner’s cousin, when the former bails out of a joint trip due to work. Popular actor/filmmaker Mouret broke out internationally in 2018 with his 18th-century historical drama Mademoiselle De Joncquières, which Netflix acquired and released worldwide under the title of Lady J. Mouret’s fourth feature as a writer/director (he also starred) – comedy Change Of Address – played in Directors’ Fortnight in 2006.
Contact: Elle Driver
Nadia, Butterfly (Can)
Dir. Pascal Plante
In the lone all-Canadian feature in Official Selection, 2016 Olympic relay bronze medallist Katerine Savard makes her acting debut as a professional swimmer in her 20s facing up to retirement. Plante’s follow-up to his 2018 Berlin Generation 14plus and Slamdance entry Fake Tattoos filmed in Montreal and Tokyo in 2019. Maison 4:3 will distribute in English- and French-speaking Canada.
Contact: Anick Poirier, WaZabi Films
A Night Doctor (Fr)
Dir. Elie Wajeman
French actor Vincent Macaigne, who has roles in four of the Cannes 2020 selection titles this year, plays a Parisian night doctor with a double life. On one level, he is devoted to caring for people no-one wants to see, drug addicts and the homeless. Behind the scenes, he is also caught up in a drug trafficking racket, signing false prescriptions for the highly addictive opioid Subutex. French filmmaker Wajeman’s first feature Aliyah premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in 2012 and his second feature The Anarchists opened Critics’ Week in 2015.
Contact: Be For Films
Red Soil (Fr)
Dir. Farid Bentoumi
Zita Hanrot stars as a newly hired company nurse at the chemical factory where her father has an influential foreman position. Little by little, she begins to discover hidden illnesses among the employees and inconsistencies in the way the plant deals with chemical waste, ultimately taking the difficult decision to blow the whistle. It is the second feature from popular French-Algerian actor/director Bentoumi following 2015 comedy Good Luck Algeria, about an attempt to launch an Algerian Olympic ski team.
Simple Passion (Fr-Bel)
Dir. Danielle Arbid
Renowned Russian dancer and actor Sergei Polunin and French actress Laetitia Dosch co-star in this tale of a solitary academic documenting her passionate affair with a married Russian diplomat, who then disappears from her life. Shot on 16mm and adapted from French writer Annie Ernaux’s novel, the film is French-Lebanese director Arbid’s fourth fiction feature and follows 2015’s semi-autobiographical Parisienne which premiereed in Toronto. Arbid’s first two features In The Battlefields and Un Homme Perdu both screened at Cannes in Directors’ Fortnight in 2004 and 2007 respectively.
Contact: Pyramide International
Dir. Ayten Amin
Set mainly against the backdrop of Alexandria, Amin’s second fiction feature revolves around the relationship between two teenage sisters, one of whom lives another secret life in the virtual world of social networks. Amin’s 2013 debut feature Villa 69 starred Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga as a terminally-ill architect whose routine is disrupted by the arrival of his sister and nephew. Amin made her international debut as one of the directors on the portmanteau feature Tahrir 2011: The Good, The Bad, And The Politician, which premiered in Venice.
Contact: Vivid Reels
Dir. Magnus von Horn
The Swedish-born, Poland-educated filmmaker’s second feature follows three days in the life of Polish fitness instructor and social media star Sylwia, who realises her hundreds of thousands of followers don’t give her the love and intimacy she craves. The film was majority funded in Poland and shot with a Polish cast and crew. In 2015, von Horn’s debut feature The Here After screened in Directors’ Fortnight.
Contact: Jan Naszewski, New Europe Film Sales
Dirs. Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma
This French take on the werewolf genre stars Berlin Silver Bear-winning actor Anthony Bajon (in 2018, for Cedric Kahn’s The Prayer) as a young man living with an adopted uncle in a village in the eastern Pyrenees, where local shepherds have been up in arms about the reintroduction of wolves in the region by conservationists. On the night of a full moon, he is scratched by a mystery beast and soon falls prey to strange impulses. The Boukherma brothers credit their mother – a Stephen King uber fan – with hooking them onto horror. Their debut feature Willy 1er played in the parallel ACID section at Cannes in 2016. The Jokers will distribute Teddy in France.