Screen staff preview each of the titles in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, which this year includes films from Clio Barnard, Miguel Gomes and Joanna Hogg.
Ali & Ava (UK)
Dir Clio Barnard
Barnard’s three previous features — hybrid documentary The Arbor (2010) and dramas The Selfish Giant (2013) and Dark River (2017) — launched at Tribeca, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and Toronto respectively. She now returns to Quinzaine with a film based on people she met while making The Arbor and The Selfish Giant in the city of Bradford, northern England. This tale of romance between two lonely souls stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook and is produced by Tracy O’Riordan, with backing from BBC Film.
Contact Altitude Film Sales
A Chiara (It-Fr)
Dir Jonas Carpignano
Carpignano’s debut feature Mediterranea was selected for Critics’ Week in 2015; two years later, A Ciambra made its bow in Directors’ Fortnight and was later selected as Italy’s 2018 Oscar entry. Now the Italo-American director is back in Quinzaine with the third and final part of a trilogy featuring non-professional actors from the depressed Calabrian industrial town of Gioia Tauro. Among the Carpignano regulars are composers Benh Zeitlin (director of Beasts Of The Southern Wild) and Dan Romer.
Contact mk2 Films
Between Two Worlds (Fr)
Dir Emmanuel Carrere
Carrere’s debut feature The Moustache premiered at Directors’ Fortnight in 2005, and now his follow-up as director opens this year’s event. Based on Florence Aubenas’ bestselling non-fiction work Le Quai De Ouistreham, which documents her experiences of job insecurity in the port city of Caen, the film stars Juliette Binoche and is produced by France’s Curiosa Films and Cinefrance. Mars Films will release in France in November.
Contact France TV Distribution
The Braves (Fr)
Dir Anais Volpé
Actress/filmmaker Volpé’s second feature, following 2017’s Heis (Chronicles), follows two Parisian best friends — Souheila Yacoub (also in Directors’ Fortnight this year in A Brighter Tomorrow) and Déborah Lukumuena (who stars in Critics’ Week opener Robust) — whose relationship deepens when they are cast as the lead and understudy in a stageplay. The Braves (or Entre Les Vagues as it is known in French) is shot by cinematographer Sean Price Williams, who also worked on the Safdie brothers’ Good Time, and is produced by France’s Unité de Production.
Contact mk2 Films
A Brighter Tomorrow (Fr)
Dir Yassine Qnia
Award-winning shorts director Qnia makes his feature debut with this tale of a safe-cracker (Lupin’s Soufiane Guerrab) who is desperately trying to be a good father to his infant son, and win back his ex-girlfriend (Souheila Yacoub). Qnia wrote the screenplay in collaboration with Why Not Productions’ Rosa Attab, and the film is produced by Why Not’s Pascal Caucheteux, who is also in Cannes with Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception.
Contact Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International
Clara Sola (Swe-Costa Rica-Bel-Ger-US)
Dir Nathalie Alvarez Mesen
Sweden’s Alvarez Mesen, who started her career in Costa Rican theatre, returns to the Central American country for her feature directing debut, a magical realist drama (co-written by Maria Camila Arias) about a 40-year-old ‘healer’ who crosses boundaries when her sexual desires are awakened. Dancer Wendy Chinchilla makes her film debut in the title role. Clara Sola is produced by Nima Yousefi, one of EFP’s Producers on the Move 2021; the film was developed at eQuinoxe and is supported by the likes of Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund and the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.
Contact Hédi Zardi, Luxbox
The Employer And The Employee (Uru-Arg-Bra-Fr)
Dir Manuel Nieto
The Employer And The Employee centres on a wealthy owner of agricultural companies and his employee (two men in predicaments about their children) whose relationship becomes strained after a tragedy. The film stars Nahuel Perez Biscayart and Cristian Borges and won San Sebastian 2020’s EGEDA Platino industry award for the best Latin American work in progress, worth $36,000 (€30,000). Nieto’s debut The Dog Pound won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam in 2006.
Contact Laura Lagos, Latido Films
Dir Haider Rashid
Born in Florence to an Italian mother and Iraqi father, Rashid has made short and feature-length work spanning fiction and non-fiction, including virtual-reality documentary short No Borders, which explored the migrant crisis in Italy and won prizes at Venice Film Festival in 2016. He returns to the theme of migrants with this drama about an Iraqi man travelling across Europe and targeted by vigilantes in Bulgaria. Europa is lead produced by Rashid’s own Radical Plans, and partners include Beyond Dreams (US) and Berta Film (Italy).
Contact MPM Premium
Dirs Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi, Alice Rohrwacher
This documentary sees three leading Italian directors travel around the country interviewing teenagers about what they think the future holds; the trio have stated that rather than make an anthology film, they were keen to work together across an entire project. Rohrwacher (Happy As Lazzaro) is a Cannes regular, unlike Munzi (Black Souls) and Marcello, who made his mark on the global arthouse scene with Venice premiere Martin Eden. Marcello’s Avventurosa produces alongside Rai Cinema.
Contact The Match Factory
The Hill Where Lionesses Roar (Fr-Kos)
Dir Luana Bajrami
French-Kosovan director Bajrami shot this directing debut when she was only 18 years old, after being previously known as an actress (she played the housemaid in Portrait Of A Lady On Fire). The Kosovo-set story follows three bored teenagers who set up a heist gang in their small village. The picture landed a sales deal with Loco Films after a buzzy presentation at Les Arcs’ Works in Progress 2019, where it won the Alphapanda audience engagement award. Producers are Quentin Just and Adrien Ferrand at Paris-based Vents Contraires and Val Rahmani at Kosovo’s OrëZanë Film. Le Pacte has already acquired French rights.
Contact Laurent Danielou, Loco Films
Hit The Road (Iran)
Dir Panah Panahi
Iranian master Jafar Panahi’s son Panah makes his writing and directing debut with Hit The Road – Panah having previously served as editor on his father’s 3 Faces. The story is about a chaotic family road trip across a rugged landscape, and the cast includes Hassan Madjooni, Pantea Panahiha and newcomers Rayan Sarlak and Amin Simiar. Veteran cinematographer Amin Jafari (Drum, 3 Faces, Ballad Of A White Cow) is among the key crew. Panahi Sr is part of anthology The Year Of The Everlasting Storm in Special Screenings.
Contact Hengameh Panahi, Celluloid Dreams
Dir Radu Muntean
A suspense story co-written by Muntean with frequent collaborators Alexandru Baciu and Razvan Radulescu, Intregalde follows three humanitarians on an ill-fated mission to a remote village in Romania’s Apuseni mountains. Bucharest-born Muntean has previously played in Un Certain Regard with Tuesday, After Christmas (2010) and One Floor Below (2015), and in Locarno’s competition with The Paper Will Be Blue (2006) and Alice T (2018). International sales for Intregalde are being handled by Cristian Mungiu’s Voodoo Films.
Contact Voodoo Films
Magnetic Beats (Fr-Ger)
Dir Vincent Cardona
Cardona’s short Anywhere Out Of The World was presented in 2010’s Cannes Cinefondation, and he is back in the festival with his feature debut. Set in Brittany in the 1980s, Magnetic Beats follows a young pirate radio DJ who broadcasts with his charismatic brother and their friends — but the good times end when he is called up for military service and has to leave for West Berlin. It is a co-production between France’s Easy Tiger (Divines) and Srab Film (Les Misérables), and Paname Distribution will release in France.
Contact Indie Sales
Dir Anita Rocha da Silveira
This is the director’s second feature, after teen horror Kill Me Please, which played Venice’s Horizons in 2015. Alluding to the Greek myth, Medusa follows a young woman who becomes obsessed with perfection due to society’s pressure on women. Reteaming with actress Mariana Oliveira from Kill Me Please, this feminist comedy-horror reflects contemporary Brazil where domestic violence flourishes.
Contact Martin Gondre, Best Friend Forever
Dir Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Dubrovnik-born, New York-based filmmaker Kusijanovic won a raft of awards for her short Into The Blue, which premiered at the 2017 Berlinale. Her debut feature, which was developed through Cannes Cinefondation and the Goethe-Institut’s First Films First programme, focuses on a Croatian family who must face their history of hidden violence. It is produced by Croatia’s Antitalent and Spiritus Movens, Brazil’s RT Features and Martin Scorsese’s New York-based Sikelia Productions.
Neptune Frost (US-Rwa)
Dirs Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman
This sci-fi musical benefited from a Kickstarter campaign to get it up and running, and is the first project to hail from MartyrLoserKin Productions launched by Williams and actor Ezra Miller. The film shot in Rwanda (JMK Films is the local producer) and is a love story between an intersex runaway and a coltan miner, and the virtual marvel born as a result of their union. Lin-Manuel Miranda serves as executive producer. Cheryl Isheja, Elvis Ngabo, Bertrand Ninteretse and 2021 Berlinale Talents participant Eliane Umuhire star.
Contact Aaron Johnson, Knitting Factory Management
A Night Of Knowing Nothing (Fr-India)
Dir Payal Kapadia
After her short Afternoon Clouds took part in Cannes Cinefondation in 2017, Kapadia returns to show her debut feature, which is described as a creative documentary. The co-production between France’s Petit Chaos and India’s Another Birth depicts an epistolary romance after a female student at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune is separated from her love when he must return to his home village. Producer Thomas Hakim of Petit Chaos took part in Berlinale Talents 2020.
Contact Petit Chaos
Our Men (Bel-Fr)
Dir Rachel Lang
Lang’s third film, following 2013 documentary Zino and 2016’s Baden Baden, focuses on the spouses of the men who come from all over the world to join the French Foreign Legion. The film, which closes this year’s Directors’ Fortnight, is a co-production between France’s Chevaldeuxtrois and Belgium’s Wrong Men. Lang’s debut short For You I Will Fight won Locarno’s Silver Pardino Leopards of Tomorrow award in 2010.
Contact Bac Films
Returning To Reims (Fragments) (Fr)
Dir Jean-Gabriel Périot
France’s Périot has strong roots in non-fiction: his two previous features are documentary A German Youth (Berlin 2015) and drama Summer Lights (San Sebastian 2016), which is about a documentary filmmaker. This new work is based on Didier Eribon’s memoir about returning to his hometown after 30 years, which was previously adapted into a performance piece (for Manchester International Festival 2017) starring Nina Hoss as an actress taping a voiceover narration of the book. Périot’s film tells its story through archive images and narration by Adele Haenel (Portrait Of A Lady On Fire).
Contact The Party Film Sales
Ripples Of Life (China)
Dir Wei Shujun
Wei is participating in the festival for the third time following his short film On The Border, which played at Cannes in 2018, and debut feature Striding Into The Wind selected for the Cannes 2020 label. His second feature follows a film crew who arrive in a remote town in Hunan province, spreading ripples in the life of the locals. Backers include Factory Gate Films, which previously produced Dwelling In The Fuchun Mountains (Cannes Critics’ Week 2019), and Inner Self Films. Beijing-born Wei started his career as an actor at the age of 14.
The Sea Ahead (Fr-Leb-US-Qatar-Saudi-Bel)
Dir Ely Dagher
Beirut-born Dagher won the short film Palme d’Or in 2015 with Waves 98. His debut feature tells the story of a young woman returning to her Beirut family home after living abroad, troubled by the bad experiences she left behind and the pressure to fit back into the family dynamic. France’s Andolfi Production, Lebanon’s Abbout Productions and Belgium’s Wrong Men (also in Cannes with Critics’ Week title Zero Fucks Given and Quinzaine entry Our Men) are among the producers.
Contact The Party Film Sales
The Souvenir Part II (UK)
Dir Joanna Hogg
Hogg’s semi-autobiographical The Souvenir — about a film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) falling under the spell of a charismatic, manipulative man — won Sundance’s grand jury prize for world cinema dramatic in 2019. The BBC Film-backed Part II sees the return of Swinton Byrne and her mother Tilda Swinton, adding Harris Dickinson, Joe Alwyn and Charlie Heaton, while also beefing up the producer roster with the addition of Element’s Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe and Emma Norton who join Hogg and Luke Schiller. A24 distributes in the US, and Picturehouse Entertainment in the UK. The original The Souvenir also plays Quinzaine this year as a special screening.
Contact Protagonist Pictures
The Tale Of King Crab (It-Arg-Fr)
Dirs Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis
Partly inspired by the Italian directing duo’s 2015 documentary Il Solengo, which embarked on an extended festival tour after its DocLisboa premiere, The Tale Of King Crab taps into the same Italian folk culture world explored by Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy As Lazzaro. Set in the Tuscia region north of Rome, the film — which is produced by Tommaso Bertani’s Ring Film with Rai Cinema and partners in France and Argentina — recounts the legend of an outcast living on the fringes of a rural village in the 19th century.
The Tsugua Diaries (Port)
Dirs Miguel Gomes, Maureen Fazendeiro
Portugal’s Gomes (who screened his Arabian Nights in Directors’ Fortnight 2015) teams with Lisbon-based French documentarian Fazendeiro for this fictional “lockdown journal” shot entirely in 16mm during the Covid-19 lockdown in Portugal. Crista Alfaiate and Carloto Cotta, who both starred in Arabian Nights, are among the cast, alongside Joao Nunes Monteiro. The script is co-written by Gomes, Fazendeiro and Mariana Ricardo. Gomes and Fazendeiro began working together when she served as casting director for the French shoot of Arabian Nights.
Contact The Match Factory
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