"22 feature films, 2 special screenings and 9 short films!" tweeted @Quinzaine this morning, announcing the lineup for this year's Quinzaine des réalisateurs — the Directors' Fortnight. The features...
Cam Archer's Shit Year. Your first stop might be here. Michael Martin for Interview: "[I]t stars Ellen Barkin as a former Hollywood actress who walks away from the industry and 'finds herself just as miserable.' Archer wrote it in a fit of frustration about being unable to get funding for another project. 'It started as kind of a joke,' he says. 'I just thought, I'm going to write a film called Shit Year. Then people responded to it.' It was also a big jump from directing nonprofessional child actors in [Wild Tigers I Have Known] to working with a serious cinema veteran.... Relating to the film's more mature subject matter wasn't a stretch for him either. 'I feel like I'm in my 50s,' he says [he's in his late 20s]. 'I didn't think about what I would do if I were actually this age. I just thought, What would I think if I were a little older but still had concerns about my life? I think we definitely worry about the same things.'" Stills.
Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye's Benda Bilili! "Staff Benda Bilili are a group of Congolese street musicians," according to Wikipedia, and this is a documentary about them. "They live around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, and play music which is rooted in rumba, with elements of old-school rhythm'n'blues and reggae." Clips 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Fabienne Berthaud's Pieds nus sur les limaces (Lily Sometimes). From the synopsis at ioncinema: "Co-written by Berthaud and Pascal Arnold, this is based on Berthaud's eponymous novel, and centers on Clara ([Diane] Kruger), who is happily married to a promising lawyer and lives in Paris. After the sudden death of their mother, Clara has to assume responsibility for her younger sister, Lily ([Ludivine] Sagnier), whose extreme sensitivity makes her vulnerable to the outside world and prevents her from being autonomous." Clips 1 and 2.
Christoffer Boe's Alting bliver godt igen (Everything Will Be Fine). From The Match Factory: "A film director flees from a car accident in which he was at fault out of fear of the consequences for his coming film and the adoption of his future son. The day after the accident, he discovers that the man he ran over is in fact hiding a dangerous secret capable of toppling the government. He decides to risk everything in an attempt to expose the man’s story to the public – but as it turns out, nothing is actually what it seems." Site and subtitled trailer.
Jean-Stéphane Bron's Cleveland vs Wall Street. From Swiss Films: "The story of a trial in Cleveland, in a small town shattered by a severe crisis stemming from low-cost mortgages. The mayor blames the big banks in America for the disaster. While two attorneys confront each other in the courtroom, seven witnesses are called up one after another. A jury court has to submit their verdict: guilty or not guilty? The Wall Street process as a modern fable about capitalism."
Jean-Paul Civeyrac's Des Filles en noir. "Written by the director, the film is set in a provincial city," reports Fabien Lemercier for Cineuropa. "Noémie and Priscilla, two 17-year-old girls from modest backgrounds, harbour the same despair, the same disgust at the world and the same violence. These girls are a cause of concern to close relations and everyone around them, as they're perhaps capable of anything."
Alicia Duffy's All Good Children. From the synopsis at ioncinema: "Based on Sam Taylor's novel The Republic of Trees, All Good Children centers on Dara [Jack Gleeson] and Eoin [David Brazil], two young Irish children of 11 and 12, who have to go and live at their aunt's house in France, following their mother's suicide." Clip.
Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro volte. Once again, ioncinema: "The Four Times works in the non-defined field between documentary and fiction, and can be understood in three different ways: as a science fiction film (without special effects), as an ethnographic documentary on some parts of the Calabrian Apennine, or as an essay about the human soul." Eric Lavallee's looking forward to this one.
Jorge Michel Grau's Somos lo que hay (We Are What We Are). This "may just be the best film I have seen all year," declared Todd Brown at Twitch last month. "This is not to suggest that it does not have its flaws — because it does — or that it will be to everyone's taste — because it won't — but Grau has just delivered the most confident, poised and unique debut to hit screens in quite some time. And while it may not seem all that impressive to cry 'Film of the year! So far!' when it is only March, the last time I had a similar reaction this early in the year the film in question was Swedish stunner Let the Right One In, a film that Grau's shares some passing similarities with." Update, 4/27: Twitch has images.
Alistair Banks Griffin's Two Gates of Sleep. Ioncinema: "When Jack's mother turns up dead at the edge of a field near his rural home, he and his brother set out on an arduous journey to fulfill her last wish." Griffin's short Gauge screened at the New York Film Festival in 2008.
Gustavo Hernandez's La Casa muda (The Silent House). A horror film somewhat in the vein of Paranormal Activity or [REC]. Todd Brown, introducing the trailer at Twitch: "Not content to go simply single camera, Hernandez and the rest of the team behind La Casa Muda are pushing things even farther, shooting the entire film in a single take. It's not actually the first time this has been done in horror — Albert Pyun did it with Infection, for one — as they're claiming but it is pretty damn rare. Even more rare is to attack this format and have it look as good as things do here. The film was reportedly shot on a digital still camera rather than a true video camera and clearly [DP Pedro] Luque has spent an awful lot of time getting to know his equipment and his lighting because this looks fantastic. More importantly, it looks truly scary."
Philip Koch's Picco. From the site: "Based on true events, Picco is the first picture to shed light on the every-day life of youth prison inmates in Germany and shows in a gripping and merciless way that the contemporary judiciary system is by no means able to properly re-educate these lost youths..."
Aktan Arym Kubat's The Light Thief. A Google search turns up the filmmaker's name all over pages about cinema in Kazakhstan. Cargo's Ekkehard Knörer's even found a profile in Gönül Dönmez-Colin's book, Cinemas of the Other: A Personal Journey with Filmmakers from the Middle East and Central Asia of the director, screenwriter and producer also known as Aktan Abdikalikov. Supported by the Berlinale's World Cinema Fund.
Oliver Laxe's Todos vós sodes capitáns. Synopsis from Zeitun Films: "A European director is filming a movie with children coming from a social institution in Tanger. During the shooting, and due to his methods, his relationship with the children will deteriorate until transforming the future of the project." Trailer.
Diego Lerman's La Mirada invisible (The Invisible Eye). An Argentine-French-Spanish production. Many thanks to Diego Lerer, who has noted below in a comment that this is an adaptation of Martin Kohan's Ciencias Morales (Moral Science). See that comment for more.
Olivier Masset-Depasse's Illégal. Versus Production has a synopsis in French. Going by Google's translation, it seems that a Russian woman and her son, although "well-integrated," face deportation from Belgium. The son escapes authorities and now the mother may be expelled from the country without him. Clip.
Marina Méliande and Felipe Braganca's Alegria (Joy). Google translates from the Portuguese: "It's summer in Rio de Janeiro. 35 degrees at ten in the evening. Joy is the story of the [most decisive] summer in the life of Luiza, 16 years, resident the neighborhood of Catete. After receiving the mission to care for [his] cousin John, [who] received a gunshot wound in the leg in Burns, Baixada Fluminense, Luiza finds himself grappling with a new love, the utopias of adolescence and the dilemmas of being young in a city like Rio de Janeiro. "I decided that I will be happy. But not stupid!" Joy focuses on three points of reflection identities urban today: the culture of blogs and flogs and its relation to [mass] culture, the ratio of youth movements and collective politicians, and the insurrection of joy and pleasure as a physical dominant reaction to the nostalgia."
Katell Quillevéré's Un Poison violent. Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: "Penned by the director, Un Poison violent won the Emergence Prize in 2007, the Special Prize in the Junior category of the 2008 Grand Prize for Best Screenwriter competition and was selected for reading at last year's Premiers Plans Film Festival in Angers — and centers on 14-year-old Anna. She leaves her boarding school to return to her village for the holidays, during which she must hold her confirmation ceremony, an important step in Catholic life." Clips 1, 2 and 3.
Michael Rowe's Año bisiesto. Synopsis from the IMDb: "Laura lives deep in the melancholy of her troubled past in Oaxaca. Her solitary days pass until she decides to end it all. Laura meets Arturo who that will help her finish off the pain of her existence." Clips 1 and 2; trailer.
Avishai Sivan's Ha'Meshotet (The Wanderer). The synopsis at the site: "Isaac, a young yeshiva student, an only child to born-again orthodox parents. Trapped in a dysfunctional family and a failing body, Isaac finds refuge in wandering. Tormented by his newfound infertility, Isaac looks for answers in his father's dubious past. Wandering through the backstreets of the city, he seeks deliverance." Trailer.
Gust Vandenberghe's Little Baby Jesus of Flandr. From Minds Meet: "Three poor beggars think they witness the birth of little baby Jesus. But they are not sure at all. Based on an old Flemish theater play by Felix Timmermans." Clips 1 and 2; trailer.
Woo Ming jin's Tiger Factory. From the director of Woman on Fire Looks for Water — hence, very promising. Trailer.
Stephen Kijak's Stones in Exile. A documentary on the making of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Update, 4/27: Trailer.
Frederick Wiseman's Boxing Gym. Last November, indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez wrote, "He’s just finishing Boxing Gym, his new feature, set in Austin, TX, that he says has a lot in common with his recent films about dance." It'll screen at MoMA later this year.
Sean Durkin's Mary Last Seen (trailer), Louis Garrel's Petit tailleur, Hirabayashi Isamu's Shikasha, Jesper Klevenas's Ett tyst barn (A Silent Child), Noah Pink's ZedCrew, Ionut Piturescu's Cautare (Quest), Pradeepan Raveendran's Shadows of Silence, Andre Schreuders's Licht and Annarita Zambrano's Tre ore.
The Société des réalisateurs de films has announced that Agnès Varda will receive the Carrosse d'Or when the Directors' Fortnight opens on May 13. Rebecca Leffler for the Hollywood Reporter: "The awards ceremony will be preceded earlier in the day by a special screening of Varda's Lions Love... (and Lies), the director's 1969 title shot in LA and starring Viva, Jerry Ragni, Jim Rado and Shirley Clarke. The lifetime achievement award, which is referred to as 'the Golden Coach' in French, was created by the SRF in 2002 and has been awarded to legendary filmmakers including Clint Eastwood, Nanni Moretti, David Cronenberg and last year's recipient Jim Jarmusch."
Update, 5/3: The catalog is now available as an online e-book.
Images: The poster, of course; and Shit Year.