Directors' Fortnight

Source: Cannes Film Festival

‘The Book of Solutions’, ‘Mambar Pierrette’, ‘Conann’

Screen staff preview each of the titles in the Cannes Film Festival parallel strand Directors’ Fortnight, which this year includes films from Michel Gondry, Bertrand Mandico and Rosine Mbakam. The festival runs May 16-27.

Abraham’s Valley (Port)

Dir. Manoel de Oliveira
Directors’ Fortnight presents a special screening celebrating the 30th anniversary of this film’s original premiere in the section. Born in 1908, Portugal’s de Oliveira was already a distinguished veteran when he made Abraham’s Valley, although he carried on working until his death in 2015. The film offers a contemporary spin on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and is also inspired by Agustina Bessa-Luis’ Portuguese novel. Leonor Silveira stars as a woman who marries an older man, and then seeks solace with lovers.
Contact: Luxbox

Agra (India-Fr)

Dir. Kanu Behl
Having previously played in Un Certain Regard with his 2014 feature debut Butterfly, director Behl brings his follow-up to Directors’ Fortnight. He co-wrote the Hindi-­language screenplay with Atika Chohan, about a twentysomething call centre worker attempting to balance his family and love life in the titular city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh. It is produced by Siddharth Anand Kumar through his Mumbai-based Saregama India alongside France’s UFO Productions, which will distribute in France.
Contact: Pascale Ramonda

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (Switz-Georgia-Ger)

Dir. Elene Naveriani
Georgia-born Swiss resident Naveriani presents her third feature, following 2017 Rotterdam premiere I Am Truly A Drop Of Sun On Earth and 2021 Locarno selection Wet Sand (the latter LGBTQ+ drama, set in a small town on the Black Sea, was co-­written with brother Sandro Naveriani). The new film, which is produced by Geneva-based Alva Film in co-production with Tbilisi-based Takes Film (Wet Sand) and Cologne-based Heimatfilm, follows an unmarried middle-aged woman (Eka Chavleishvili) who cherishes her single life, but must choose between a relationship and continued independence when she falls in love with a man.
Contact: Totem Films

The Book Of Solutions (Fr)

Dir. Michel Gondry
Gondry’s first feature since 2015’s Microbe & Gasoline sees him return to Quinzaine, where The We And The I premiered in 2012. Pierre Niney (a 2015 César best actor winner for Yves Saint Laurent) stars as a filmmaker battling demons that are oppressing his creativity, alongside a support cast that includes Blanche Gardin (Critics’ Week 2022 entry Everybody Loves Jeanne), Francoise Lebrun, Camille Rutherford and Vincent Elbaz. Gondry’s regular producer partner Georges Bermann produces for Partizan Films, and The Jokers will release in France.
Contact: Kinology

Conann (Fr-Lux)

Dir. Bertrand Mandico
The final instalment of a loose trilogy of queer, erotic, surrealist films follows Mandico’s two earlier feature-­length projects The Wild Boys (Venice Critics’ Week 2017) and After Blue (Locarno 2021). All three were produced by France’s Ecce Films. Conann — aka She Is Conann — moves through the titular character’s six lives, with each version of the male hero portrayed by an actress. Elina Löwensohn, a regular Mandico collaborator, is among the cast. France’s Floréal Films and Luxembourg’s Les Films Fauves produce alongside Ecce.
Contact: Kinology 

Creatura (Sp)

Dir. Elena Martin Gimeno
Spanish actress Martin Gimeno launched her feature directing debut Júlia Ist in 2017, playing festivals including that year’s San Sebastian. Her follow-up sees Martin Gimeno once again co-writing (with Clara Roquet, who co-wrote Mounia Akl’s Costa Brava, Lebanon, and wrote and directed 2021 Cannes Critics’ Week entry Libertad) and also starring in the film. She plays a woman who goes on a journey of self-exploration to unravel her loss of desire. Creatura is produced by Spanish outfits Vilaüt Films, Avalon, Elastica Films and Lastor Media. The latter also produced Júlia Ist.
Contact: Luxbox

Deserts (Fr-Mor-Ger-Belg)

Dir. Faouzi Bensaïdi
Moroccan director Bensaïdi launched his debut feature A Thousand Months at Un Certain Regard in 2003, winning the Premier Regard prize, and then pivoted to other festivals for subsequent films. He returns to Cannes this year with his sixth feature, about two lifelong friends and debt collectors who are sent to the Sahara. The international co-­production is produced by France’s Barney Production, Germany’s Niko Film, Belgium’s Entre Chien Et Loup and Morocco’s Mont Fleuri Production.
Contact: Florencia Gil, Urban Sales

The Feeling That The Time For Doing Something Has Passed (US)

Dir. Joanna Arnow
Arnow won the 2015 Berlin Silver Bear for her short Bad At Dancing and makes her feature debut here. The 2019 Berlinale Talents project is described as a comedy about the passage of a woman’s life in her casual BDSM relationship, corporate job and quarrelsome Jewish family. Red Rocket and The Florida Project writer/director Sean Baker serves as executive producer on the project from Ravenser Odd, Nice Dissolve and Magnetic Labs. Scott Cohen, Babak Tafti and Arnow star.
Contact: Pierce Varous, Nice Dissolve

The Goldman Case (Fr)

Dir. Cédric Kahn
This biographical drama tells the story of French left-wing revolutionary Pierre Goldman, who was convicted of robbery and subsequently murdered. Arieh Worthalter, who appeared in Lukas Dhont’s 2018 Un Certain Regard title Girl and Mathieu Amalric’s 2021 Cannes Premiere selection Hold Me Tight, takes the lead. Director Kahn won Cannes’ Award of the Youth for his 1994 feature Too Much Happiness, and played in Competition with Roberto Succo in 2001. Paris-based production company Moonshaker worked on Netflix’s 2021 documentary Lords Of Scam.
Contact: Charades

Grace (Rus)

Dir. Ilya Povolotsky
This debut fiction feature from Russia’s Povolotsky follows documentary films Froth (about everyday life on the coast of the Barents Sea, and premiering at IDFA in 2019) and Northerners (a shorter work about life on the Kola Peninsula). Grace (Blazh) is a drama following a father and daughter travelling through outlying Russia aboard an old camper van. Povolotsky, who also has a background in commercials, founded production outfit Blackchamber, which produced Froth, Northerners and Grace.
Contact: Blackchamber 

In Flames (Can-Pak)

Dir. Zarrar Kahn
A rare foray by a Pakistani title in Directors’ Fortnight, Kahn’s feature directing debut is an Urdu-­language horror film about a young woman and her mother battling evil forces unleashed after the family patriarch dies. In Flames shot in Karachi in February 2022, and Kahn and producer Anam Abbas of Citylights Media presented a proof of concept at the 2022 Cannes market to find finishing funds and co-­producers. Ramesha Nawal, Bakhtawar Mazhar and Adnan Shah Tipu star. The film is among the initial roster of XYZ Films’ New Visions label championing international genre fare.
Contact: Manon Barat, XYZ Films

In Our Day (S Kor)

Dir. Hong Sangsoo
Last at the festival with 2021 Cannes Premiere selection In Front Of Your Face, prolific Korean auteur Hong plays Cannes for the 12th time with the closing film of Directors’ Fortnight. In Our Day stars Ki Joo-bong (The Novelist’s Film) and Kim Minhee (The Day After) along with other faces familiar to Hong’s fans. The film is billed as the story of a woman in her 40s staying with someone who has a cat, and a man in his 70s living alone whose cat has died of old age. It is produced by Jeonwonsa Film.
Contact: Finecut

Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell (Viet-Sing-Fr-Sp)

Dir. Pham Thien An
Vietnamese filmmaker Pham’s feature debut follows a young man who embarks on a journey to the country­side in search of his long-lost brother, father to his five-year-old nephew who has just lost his mother in a car accident. Singapore’s Jeremy Chua and Vietnam’s Tran Van Thi produce, with co-producers Marie Dubas, Ka Nguyen and Adria Mones Murlans. Pham’s 14-minute short film Stay Awake, Be Ready was shot in one take and won the top Illy Prize in Directors’ Fortnight in 2019.
Contact: Sebastien Chesneau, Cercamon

Legua (Por-Fr-It)

Dirs. Filipa Reis, Joao Miller Guerra
Having co-directed several documentaries, Portuguese filmmakers Reis and Miller Guerra premiered their fiction feature debut Djon Africa in Rotterdam’s Tiger Competition in 2018. Their second feature Legua is set in a fading manor house in northern Portugal, and follows three generations of women as they seek to understand their place in a changing world. The film is produced by Reis’s own prod­uction company Uma Pedra No Sapato, alongside co-production outfits Laranja Azul from Portugal, France’s KG Productions and Stayblack Productions from Italy.
Contact: Luxbox

Mambar Pierrette (Belg-Came)

Dir. Rosine Mbakam
Inspired by her own family, the Cameroon-­born director’s first fiction feature tells the story of a mother who runs a small sewing workshop in Douala. Now based in Belgium, Mbakam has directed several documentaries including 2021’s Delphine’s Prayers (festival pit stops include Cinéma du Réel in Paris and Sheffield Doc/Fest). Mambar Pierrette is produced by Mbakam’s own companies — Belgium-based Tandor Productions and Cameroon-based Tandor Films. Co-producers are France’s TV5 Monde with Belgium’s Centre de l’Audiovisuel à Bruxelles and RTBF.
Contact: The Party Film Sales 

The Other Laurens (Belg-Fr)

Dir. Claude Schmitz
After making a series of mid-length films, writer/director Schmitz premiered his debut feature Lucie Loses Her Horse at Brussels International Film Festival in 2021. His follow-up stars César-­nominated Olivier Rabourdin (Of Gods And Men, Benedetta) as a private detective who must confront his past when his niece asks him to investigate her father’s death. Producers are Benoit Roland of Belgium’s Wrong Men North, which last year co-produced Valentina Maurel’s multiple Locarno award-­winning I Have Electric Dreams, and Jérémy Forni of French company Chevaldeuxtrois.
Contact: Best Friend Forever 

A Prince (Fr)

Dir. Pierre Creton
Inspired by Creton’s own time spent as an apprentice when he was a teenager, A Prince follows a 16-year-old gardening trainee exploring his sexuality. Creton, who works in agriculture as well as film­making and whose previous films include 2017 Marseille Festival of Documentary Film entry Va, Toto!, also features in the cast, with Mathieu Amalric providing the inner voice for one of the characters. A Prince is produced by Arnaud Dommerc for Andolfi, which was behind Amjad Abu Alala’s Venice 2019 best debut film winner You Will Die At 20. JHR Films will distribute in France.
Contact Arnaud Dommerc, Andolfi

Riddle Of Fire (US)

Dir. Weston Razooli
Razooli’s Montana-set debut feature is described as The Little Rascals meets Twin Peaks, and a “neo-­folktale adventure”. Shot in Utah in 2021, the coming-of-age story sees a trio of dirtbike-­riding children set out on an errand for their bedridden mother — who are then accidentally kidnapped by poachers. The Anaxia and Fulldawa Films project benefitted from the Utah tax incentive and is lead produced by Fulldawa’s David Atrakchi. Razooli, who grew up in Park City, made shorts Anaxia (2018) and Jolly Boy Friday (2016).
Contact: Mister Smith Entertainment 

A Song Sung Blue (China)

Dir. Geng Zihan
Geng’s feature debut is a coming-of-age drama set during one summer: a lonely 15-year-old girl finds a sparkle in her life when she befriends an 18-year-old girl, not knowing that she is being led into an unknown world. Zhou Meijun (Venice 2017 Competition title Angels Wear White) and Kate Huang (Geng’s short film A Ray Of Sunshine) star. Producer Jane Zheng is best known for The Farewell, while actress Liang Jing serves as executive producer through Beijing-based The Seventh Art Pictures.
Contact: Totem Films 

The Sweet East (US)

Dir. Sean Price Williams
The prolific cinematographer with credits including the Safdie brothers’ Good Time (2017), Abel Ferrara’s Zeros And Ones (2021) and Owen Kline’s Funny Pages (2022) makes his feature directing debut. The story follows a high-school senior separated from her classmates who encounters sects and cults on a picaresque journey through the eastern seaboard. Alex Ross Perry (2018’s Her Smell) is among the producers, and the film — from US outfits Marathon Films and Base 12 Productions — stars Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ Talia Ryder, Simon Rex from Red Rocket and The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry’s Earl Cave.
Contact: The Match Factory

Profiles by Nikki Baughan, Ellie Calnan, Dani Clarke, Ben Dalton, Charles Gant, Elaine Guerini, Jeremy Kay, Rebecca Leffler, Wendy Mitchell, Jean Noh, Jonathan Romney, Michael Rosser, Mona Tabbara, Silvia Wong