Organized since 1969 by the French Directors’ Guild, Directors’ Fortnight (officially The Directors’ Fortnight, but rarely referred to as such) is the most storied of the independent parallel festivals at Cannes and something of a refuge for art films, genre movies, and debut features, away from the notoriously Byzantine internal politics that go into programming the main festival’s glitzy Official Competition and its Un Certain Regard sidebar. This year’s selection, which was announced yesterday, is unusually heavy with big names, with new films by Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Abel Ferrara, Philippe Garrel, and Sean Baker (among many others), along with the usual slate of unknowns.
Described as an adaptation of Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, Denis’ Dark Glasses was only announced a few months ago, and the fact that it stars Juliette Binoche and Gerard Depardieu makes it one of the starriest Directors’ Fortnight openers in recent memory. But though Denis almost always premieres her films at the Venice Film Festival—which is where Dark Glasses was expected to end up—she is known as something of a Directors’ Fortnight fan, and this writer can personally attest to the surreal experience of turning around in the Theatre Croisette to discover the diminutive, septuagenarian French filmmaker enthusiastically clapping and whistling at the end credits of a Philippe Garrel film.
Speaking of Garrel: Though also a Venice regular, he’ll be bringing his latest black-and-white relationship study, L’amant D’un Jour, to Directors’ Fortnight. Bruno Dumont—whose last film, Slack Bay, just opened in the United States—seems all but guaranteed a slot in the Official Competition, but he’ll be premiering his bizarre-sounding electro-pop musical Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc in the parallel festival. It’s the more promising of the slate’s two unlikely auteur musical projects, as Abel Ferrara’s Alive In France is apparently a feature-length ode to the great New York gutter poet’s passion for making other people listen to him sing. According to the official description, it features a live rendition of “The Bad Lieutenant.”
Other notable premieres include The Florida Project, Sean Baker’s follow-up to Tangerine; Frost, the latest from Fortnight regular Sharunas Bartas; A Ciambra, a drama about a Romani family from Italian director Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea); and West Of The Jordan River (Field Diary Revisited), which will presumably find Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai revisiting his controversial 1982 documentary Field Diary.
You can find the complete listing of films at the official site of Directors’ Fortnight.