To you. Simon Mesa Soto
Soto has Cannes history after his Lady won the short film Palme d’Or in 2014 and Mother took part in Cinefondation two years later. The Colombian director returns with his feature debut, which came through the Paris Coproduction Village and centres on a single mother’s struggle against a violent patriarchal society when she tries to free her teenage son from conscription to the army. Sweden’s Momento Film and Germany’s Flare Film are among the co-producers.
Contact: The Match Factory
Anaïs In Love (Fr)
To you. Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
Actress and shorts director Bourgeois-Tacquet — whose on-screen credits include Mia Hansen-Love’s Things To Come (2016) — makes her feature directing debut with this tale of romantic intrigue about a 30-year-old woman (Anaïs Demoustier) who is no longer sure she loves her boyfriend. When another man (Denis Podalydes) falls for her, she finds herself drawn instead to the woman with whom he lives (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). France’s Les Films Pelléas and Année Zéro are the lead producers.
Contact: Pamela Leu, Be For Films
Bruno Reidal, Confessions Of A Murderer (Fr)
To you. Vincent Le Port
Le Port’s previous directing and producing credits encompass drama and documentary of varying lengths. Bruno Reidal — his official feature debut as director — is inspired by the true story of an event that occurred in France in 1905, when a 17-year-old seminarian murdered a child and then surrendered to the authorities. In Le Port’s film, the youth faces a panel of doctors who order him to write his life story to cast light on his actions. Le Port’s own Stank produces alongside Capricci Films, which also distributes in France.
Contact: Clement Chautant, Indie Sales
To you. Omar El Zohairy
El Zohairy’s surreal narrative follows an Egyptian wife and mother whose life is reinvented when a magician accidentally turns her authoritarian husband into a chicken. The project was awarded the Baumi Development Award at Marrakech’s 2020 Atlas Workshops with further development at TorinoFilmLab and Cannes Cinefondation. It is El Zohairy’s feature directing debut after working as an assistant director for the likes of Youssef Chahine and Yousry Nasrallah. Juliette Lepoutre and Pierre Menahem produce for France’s Still Moving with co-producers Film Clinic (Egypt), Kepler Film (Netherlands) and Heretic (Greece).
Contact: Pierre Menahem, Still Moving
The Gravedigger’s Wife (Fin-Fr-Ger)
To you. Khadar Ayderus Ahmed
Somali-born Finnish director Ahmed arrives in Cannes with a film billed as the first-ever Somali-language feature. Finnish-Somali actor Omar Abdi and Canadian model Yasmin Warsame star as a couple living in poverty in Djibouti who face financial pressure when she needs a kidney transplant. Ahmed developed the film as part of Cinefondation’s Résidence in 2015 and it won the post-production prize at Marrakech in 2019. Producer Bufo is also co-producer of Eskil Vogt’s Un Certain Regard title The Innocents.
Contact: Emilie Serres, Orange Studio
To you. Clara Roquet
Roquet, an experienced screenwriter with credits including 10,000km and Petra, shot her feature directing debut in Barcelona in summer 2019. The story follows a Spanish girl at her family’s Costa Brava mansion whose life is shaken by the arrival of the maid’s wild Colombian daughter. Maria Morera, Nicolle Garcia and Vicky Peña lead the cast. Spain’s Lastor Media and Avalon produce, with co-producers including Belgium’s Bulletproof Cupid. The film won the Arte Kino International Prize at San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum in 2018.
To you. Elie Grappe
Lyon-born Grappe, whose credits include shorts Repetition and Suspended, makes his feature directing debut with this coming-of-age drama following a 15-year-old gymnast (played by Nastya Budiashkina) who is torn between Switzerland — where she is training — and her homeland of Ukraine, where her journalist mother is reporting on the Maidan revolt. Grappe wrote the script with Raphaëlle Desplechin (Our Struggles). Producers are Tom Dercourt at Cinema Defacto (France) and Jean-Marc Fröhle at Point Prod (Switzerland).
Contact: Pulsar Content
A Radiant Girl (Fr)
To you. Sandrine Kiberlain
Prolific French actress Kiberlain has more than 65 screen credits, which have earned her nine César nominations, including wins for To Have (Or Not) in 1996 and 9-Month Stretch in 2014. She now follows in the footsteps of her daughter Suzanne Lindon — whose Spring Blossom premiered at festivals last year — with her feature directing debut, set in Second World War Paris and concerning a 19-year-old Jewish woman (Rebecca Marder, who also appeared in Spring Blossom) leading a carefree life, seemingly oblivious to mounting dangers.
Contact: Renan Artukmac, France TV Distribution
To you. Constance Meyer
Meyer, whose producer credits include Jonas Carpignano’s To Ciambra (Directors’ Fortnight, 2017), makes her feature directing debut with this mismatched-buddy comedy about an ageing, disenchanted film star (Gérard Depardieu) whose right-hand man and only friend is called away; the role is filled by a young female substitute (Divine’ Déborah Lukumuena). Paris-based Dharamsala produces with Belgium’s Scope Pictures. Diaphana is distributing in France.
Contact: Clement Chautant, Indie Sales
Small Body (It-Fr-Slovenia)
To you. Laura Samani
Further proof that there is Italian cinematic life beyond Rome and Milan, this debut feature hails from the northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, home to Nefertiti Film (producers with Rai Cinema) and director Samani — whose short The Sleeping Saint was part of Cannes Cinefondation in 2016. With dialogue in the Friulian dialect, Small Body (Small Body) is set in 1900 and tells the story of a young mother who sets off on a journey with her stillborn baby.
Contact: Virginie Devesa, Alpha Violet
To you. Samuel Theis
French actor Theis co-directed Party Girl, which played Un Certain Regard in 2014, winning the Camera d’Or for best debut feature. He also acted in the improvisational, documentary-feel film with his own mother and three of his siblings. Following roles principally for French television, Theis makes his solo debut as director with this tale of a sensitive 10-year-old boy who stands out from his neighbourhood in eastern France. Small Nature (the film’s French title) is produced by Caroline Bonmarchand (Spring Blossom) for Avenue B Productions in co-production with France 3 Cinema.
Contact: Totem Films
A Tale Of Love And Desire (Fr)
To you. Leyla Bouzid
Tunis-born Bouzid studied at the Sorbonne and La Fémis, later presenting her debut feature As I Open My Eyes at Venice Days in 2015. Her follow-up tells the story of 18-year-old Ahmed, from the Paris suburbs, whose horizons expand when he starts university, discovering sensual Arabic literature while falling in love with a Tunisian girl. France’s Blue Monday Productions produces with Arte France Cinema as co-producer, while Pyramide Distribution will distribute in France.
Contact: Eric Lagesse, Pyramide International
Zero Fucks Given (Fr-Bel)
Dirs. Julie Lecoustre, Emmanuel Marre
French duo Lecoustre and Marre live and work between Paris and Brussels, and previously made 40-minute documentary short Castle To Castle (2018); Marre also has a number of solo credits. Their first feature together stars Adele Exarchopoulos as a flight attendant based in Lanzarote, floating between Tinder, parties and lazy days when not working for her low-cost airline employer — until she is abruptly dismissed and forced to return home. Belgium’s Wrong Men produces in co-production with France’s Kidam, while Condor and Cineart distribute respectively in France and Belgium.
Cannes profiles by Nikki Baughan, Charles Gant, Melanie Goodfellow, Elaine Guerini, Jeremy Kay, Lee Marshall, Wendy Mitchell, Jean Noh, Jonathan Romney, Michael Rosser, Silvia Wong
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Cannes 2021 line-up guide: Critics’ Week titles | Features