Directors' Fortnight speaks fluent French

More than half of Cannes sidebar are Gallic productions

PARIS -- The Directors' Fortnight will have a decidedly Gallic flavor as it celebrates its 40th anniversary in Cannes this year, with more than half its 22 titles produced or co-produced by France and just one title hailing from the U.S.

The sidebar will open with Jerzy Skolimowski's Franco-Polish co-production "Four Nights With Anna."

Bertrand Bonello's "De la Guerre" (On War) will bring Mathieu Amalric and Asia Argento back to the Croisette after a high-profile presence at last year's fest.

Claire Simon's "Les Bureaux de Dieu" explores women's sexual freedom at a family planning center and stars festival veteran Nathalie Baye alongside Nicole Garcia, Beatrice Dalle and Isabelle Carre.

Other all-French productions include Cannes newcomer Nicola Sornaga's "Monsieur Morimoto" and Croisette vets Jean-Marie and Arnaud Larrieu's "Le Voyage aux Pyrenees."

French-language films include Algerian director Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche's "Le Dernier Maquis" and a pair of France-Belgium co-productions from Belgian helmers: Bouli Lanners with "Eldorado" and Joachim Lafosse with "Eleve Libre."

French minority co-productions include Filipino director Raya Martin's "Now Showing" and Iranian Saman Salour's "Lonely Tune of Tehran."

"This simply demonstrates the strong presence of French producers all over the world. Does the fact that a film has a French producer take away its nationality? I don't think so," artistic director Olivier Pere said in an interview.

The U.S. is conspicuous by its absence in this year's Fortnight, with only Josh Safdie's whimsical first feature, closing night film "The Pleasure of Being Robbed," programmed in the main selection.

Among the special screenings and events scheduled to celebrate the parallel sidebar's 40th anniversary is the May 18 unspooling of director Olivier Jahan's "40x15," a history of the sidebar produced by Gaul's MK2. Also screening is Robert Kramer and John Douglas' "Milestones," a 1975 Directors' Fortnight title never released theatrically, which will play May 19.

"I'm not a big fan of birthdays in general," Pere said, adding that the selection wasn't influenced by the 40th anniversary festivities planned. "These films were chosen for the lineup just like any other year," he said.

Pere and his selection committee sorted through 2,049 entries to choose the final selection, which also boasts a strong Eastern European presence.

In addition to Skolimowski's opener, Radu Muntean will represent Romania with "Boogie," the story of two men reminiscing on the exploits of their youth.

Bakur Bakuradze of Russia will present his first film, "Shultes," and fellow first-time filmmaker Slovakian Juraj Lehotsky will screen "Blind Loves," a documentary focusing on the relationships between blind people.

While Lehotsky's film is the only documentary in the selection, "this year, there is a strong presence of films that highlight the relationship between documentary and fiction. The link between cinema and reality is a trend that really interests us," Pere said.

2007 Cinefondation Atelier veteran Pablo Aguero will present his first film, "Salamandra," an Argentinian co-production with France and Germany, about a mother struggling to raise her son in Patagonia.

Other Spanish-language films include Albert Serra's "El Cant Dels Ocells" from Spain; Miguel Gomes' "Our Beloved Month of August," a Portugese-French co-production; Lisandro Alonso's "Liverpool" (Argentina/France/Netherlands/Spain/Germany); Federico Veiroj's adolescent angst-ridden Argentinian-Uruguain-Spanish-Mexican co-production "Acne"; and Pablo Larrain's "Tony Manero" (Chile/Brazil). Italian filmmaker Francesco Munzi will present "Il resto della notte."

As with the official selection and Critics Week sidebar this year, Asian titles are noticeably lacking on the lineup list, with Chinese Yin Lichuan's "Knitting" the only film from that continent.

"We had a lot to choose from this year. I wanted to favor films with a certain urgency, audacity and beauty," Pere said.

About 15 of the filmmakers selected will be in Cannes with a feature film for the first time. The 40th Directors' Fortnight runs May 15-25.

The lineup is on the next page.



Opening film:

FOUR NIGHTS WITH ANNA
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland-France

Closing film:

THE PLEASURE OF BEING ROBBED
Director: Josh Safdie, U.S.

Competition:

ACNE
Director: Federico Veiroj, Uruguay-Argentina-Spain-Mexico

AQUELE QUERIDO MES DE AGOSTO
Director: Miguel Gomes, Portugal-France

BOOGIE
Director: Radu Muntean, Romania

LES BUREAUX DE DIEU
Director: Claire Simon France

EL CANT DELS OCELLS
Director: Albert Serra, Spain

DE LA GUERRE
Director: Bertrand Bonello, France

DERNIER MAQUIS
Director: Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, France-Algeria

ELDORADO
Director: Bouli Lanners, Belgium-France

ELEVE LIBRE
Director: Joachim Lafosse, Belgium-France

LIVERPOOL
Director: Lisandro Alonso, Argentina-France-Netherlands-Spain-Germany

MONSIEUR MORIMOTO
Director: Nicola Sornaga, France

KNITTING
Director: Yin Lichuan, China

NOW SHOWING
Director: Raya Martin, Philippines, France

IL RESTO DELLA NOTTE
Director: Francesco Munzi, Italy

SALAMANDRA
Director: Pablo Aguero, Argentina-France-Germany

SHULTES
Director: Bakur Bakuradze, Russia

BLIND LOVES
Director: Kiraj Lehotsky, Slovakia

LONELY TUNE OF TEHRAN
Director: Saman Salour, Iran

TONY MANERO
Director: Pablo Larrain, Chile-Brazil

LE VOYAGE AUX PYRENEES
Directors: Jean-Marie and Arnaud Larrieu, France

Special screenings:

40x15
Director: Olivier Jahan, France

MILESTONES
Directors: Robert Kramer and John Douglas, U.S.
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