Fast Facts about the New Directors screening at Cannes Film Festival in 2017

The Cannes Film Festival is 70 years old this year. Probably the most famous festival in the world, Cannes is known for establishing more film careers than most. From Francois Truffaut’s powerful debut The 400 Blows to more recently Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station and Xavier Dolan’s I Killed My Mother, the promenade la croisette ignites new careers like no other.

Often the best section to uncover new talent is the Un Certain Regard program, which aims to shine a spotlight on fresh works. Alongside Un Certain Regard are the Special Screenings with the goal to platform notable films that aren’t included in other categories.  

All first timers are up for The Camera d’Or a.k.a The Golden Camera, which is handed out for the best debut feature that screens as part of the Official Selection and Un Certain Regard sections, Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight. The Golden Camera has sparked the careers of many Cannes alumni including Jim Jarmusch and Naomi Kawase.

In 2016, Houda Benyamina scored the prize for ‘Divines’ before going on to earn a swag of nominations and awards at the Golden Globes and France’s Lumiere and Cesars.

New Machine magazine researched the career backgrounds of first and second time filmmakers screening as part of the Un Certain Regard and Special Screening sections. Some names below will be familiar to readers as actors, such as Vanessa Redgrave and Kristen Stewart, but their talents behind the camera are merit on its own.

Cannes Un Certain Regard

Directors, from left, Valeria Pivato, Cecilia Atan, Kantemir Balagov, György Kristóf, Karim Moussaoui

‘The Desert Bride’ by Valeria Pivato and Cecilia Atán

Un Certain Regard/Debut Feature

  • From director and actress Cecilia Atán
  • Cecilia Atán was born on December 14, 1978 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • She began her film career as a crew member for top Argentine and foreign directors, like Hector Babenco, Eduardo Mignogna, Paula Hernandez and Christopher Hampton
  • For several years she specialized in training actors, working with theater director and playwright Luis Romero, and later with Claudio Quinteros
  • The Desert Bride’ (Argentina, 2017) is her first long feature drama and was co-directed with Valeria Pivato
  • ‘The Desert Bride’  is an Argentine-Chilean drama is about Teresa, a housemaid in Buenos Aires, who has to confront a new life after a sudden death
  • The film won both the main Films in Progress Toulouse award, which helps with post production services and the Cine+ award, which offers distribution guarantees
  • ‘The Sea’ was her first short film. It was selected to be part of the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner in 2012 and invited to participate in the competition at the Shorts Biarritz that same year. ‘The Sea’ also won Best Short Fiction at the Di Donne Short Festival in Italy
  • Co-director Valeria Pivato was born in Buenos Aires
  • She studied Design and Arts at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and holds a degree in film from the CIEVYC Film School
  • Valeria has worked in commercial film advertising and feature films since 1988 – working with filmmakers Traktor, Nicolai Fuglsig and Ellen Kuras,
  • She has also collaborated with Bruno Stagnaro, Paula Hernandez, Walter Salles, Miguel Pereira, Pablo Trapero and Juan José Campanella (including in his last film, ‘El secreto de sus ojos’ (2010 Academy Award-Oscar® Winner for Best Foreign Language Film)

Learn more about Cecilia Atán on IMDB or Vimeo or Valeria Pivato on IMDB and Facebook

Tesnota’ (‘Closeness’) by Kantemir Balagov

Un Certain Regard/ Debut Feature

  • Kantemir Balagov is a director, writer and cinematographer
  • Kantemir was born in Nalchik, Russia in 1991. He has been a student on Aleksandr Sokurov’s filmmaking course since 2010
  • Closeness’ (2017, France) is his first feature drama nominated at Cannes Film Festival 2017 for the ‘Un Certain Regard Award’ and ‘Golden Camera’
  • Kantemir previously directed the shorts  ‘Pervyy ya’ (2014), ‘Andryukha’ (2015) and ‘Molodoy eschyo’ (2015)

Learn more about Kantemir Balagov on IMDB, Vimeo or follow him on Twitter.

‘Out’ by György Kristóf 

Un Certain Regard/Debut Feature

  • From writer and director György Kristóf
  • György Kristóf was born in 1982 in Kosice, Slovakia. He studied directing at the FAMU film school in Prague
  • He studied philosophy and arts and has worked as a news reporter
  • ‘Out’ was initially developed via the Pitch & Feedback event at the International Film Festival Karlovy Vary in 2013
  • In 2015 the project was then selected for the prestigious Cinefondation’s L’Atelier as part of the Cannes Film Festival, which aids with development
  • ‘Out’ is his first feature drama, nominated at Cannes Film Festival 2017 for the ‘Un Certain Regard Award’ and ‘Golden Camera’
  • ‘Out’  is an odyssey about 50 year old family man Agoston wandering through East Europe, after losing his lifelong job in a power plant of small Slovak village he takes the shady but alluring opportunity to work as a welder in a shipyard in Latvia
  • Previously he directed two short films: ‘Úsvit‘(2011) and ‘Hranice’ (2009)
  • Hranice’ won an award at Famufest Prague 2009, Czech Republic
  • He claims that his approach to storytelling is to be honest and natural. In his opinion cinematography is not to be seen but felt
  • Gyorgy Kristof says: “I am very glad that we managed to create a film capable to compete on the highest world level, right at a first shot.

Learn more about György Kristóf on IMDB and Vimeo.

En Attendant Les Hirondelles’ (‘The Nature of Time’) by Karim Moussaoui

Un Certain Regard/Debut Feature

  • From actor, writer and director Karim Moussaoui
  • Born in 1976 in Jijel, Algeria, Karim Moussaoui worked as a film programmer before becoming a filmmaker himself
  • For a number of years he worked as an assistant for directors such as Tariq Teguia and Nadir Moknache
  • ‘The Nature of Time’ (2017) is his first full-length fiction feature, nominated at Cannes Film Festival 2017 for ‘Un Certain Regard Award’ and ‘Golden Camera’
  • The Nature of Time’ is about Mourad a newly wealthy property developer, Aïcha who is torn between the path of reason and sentiment and Dahman, an ambitious neurologist impeded by wartime wrongdoing. All three will have to face the consequences of a choice made in the recent past
  • His short drama ‘The Days Before’ (2013), won Special Jury Mention at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in 2014
  • ‘The Days Before’ was nominated for a Best Short Film César Award in France and  the Golden Pardino at the Locarno Film Festival. At the Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Films, it won the Jury Special Prize
  • Karim Moussaoui said ‘My aim is to bring tragedy into the banality of daily life, without weighing down the story’

Learn more about Karim Moussaoui on IMDB.

Cannes Un Certain Regard

Directors, from left, Taylor Sheridan, Annarita Zambrano, Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, Jude Ratman

‘Jeune Femme’ by Léonor Séraille

Un Certain Regard/Debut Film

  • From writer and director Léonor Séraille
  • Jeune Femme is nominated forUn Certain Regard Award’ and ‘Golden Camera’ at the Cannes Film Festival 2017
  • Jeune Femme (2017) is the thesis film as part of her studies at Femis (École nationale supérieure des métiers de l’image et du son)
  • The film is about the young women Paula, who accompanies despite herself, her partner, artist Joakim to start new life in Paris
  • Léonor’s previous work includes the short ‘Body’ (2016)

Learn more about Léonor Séraille on IMDB.

Wind River’ by Taylor Sheridan

Un Certain Regard/Second Feature

  • From actor, writer and director Taylor Sheridan
  • Taylor Sheridan was born 1970; he grew up on a ranch in Cranfills Gap, TX
  • Sheridan started his career in acting, appearing in small films and in recurring roles in TV shows most notably as David Hale in ‘Sons of Anarchy’
  • His debut feature as a director was the horror ‘Vile’ (2011)
  • ‘Wind River’ is nominated for Un Certain Regard Award’ at Cannes Film Festival 2017
  • Wind River’ is about an FBI agent who teams with the town’s game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation
  • He believes in the intelligence of the audience, and uses the structure and context of his stories as a way to subvert expectations, Taylor said “I look at each movie as, ‘How am I breaking the rules this time?
  • Taylor made his mark as a screenwriter with ‘Sicario’ (2015), which received numerous nominations, including a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay
  • His followup screenplay ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016) received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay

Learn more about Taylor Sheridan on IMDB and Facebook.

Apres La Guerre’ (‘After the War’) by Annarita Zambrano

Un Certain Regard/Debut Feature

  • From writer, director Annarita Zambrano
  • Annarita Zambrano was born in Rome but worked in Paris for 15 years
  • She completed a doctorate in linguistics in France, she admires French cinema and chose the director François Truffaut as the subject of her final thesis
  • After having worked for numerous film festivals, she decided to start making her own films
  • At age 34 she received funding for her first short ‘Andante mezzo forte‘ (2008)
  • After the War‘ (2017) is her first feature, where it has been nominated at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard Award’ and ‘Golden Camera’ category
  • After the War’ is about the murder of a judge that reopens old political wounds between Italy and France and stirs up memories of the ‘Years of Lead’
  • Her previous short drama ‘Ma vision du monde’ (2011) won the Best Foreign Language award at the 2012 New York City Short Film Festival
  • Her short drama ‘Ophelia‘ (2013) screened at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Palme d’Or for Best Short Film

Learn more about Annarita Zambrano on IMDB and Facebook.

They’ by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh

Special Screenings/Debut Feature

  • From writer, editor and director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh
  • Anahita Ghazvinizadeh was born in 1989, at Tehran, Iran
  • She earned her BFA in cinema from Tehran University of Art and MFA in studio arts from The Institute of Chicago
  • Anahita has studied with director Abbas Kiarostami and is influenced by his cinematic style
  • Since 2011 she started to work on a trilogy of short films with children as main characters
  • Anahita was selected as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine
  • They’ is about J who has been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, goes by the selected pronoun “they”, and takes hormone blockers to suspend puberty. After two years of medication and therapy, J has to make a decision whether or not to transition
  • Her short drama ‘Needle’ (2013) is part of the trilogy, it won the Cinefondation Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival

Learn more about Anahita Ghazvinizadeh on IMDB, Vimeo and Instagram

Demons in Paradise’ by Jude Ratman

Special Screenings/Second Feature

  • From director Jude Ratman
  • He was born in 1978 in Sri Lanka, Jude is a former human rights activist turned filmmaker
  • Jude is a film critic and co-founder of the Colombo Film Circle
  • He is also an alumni of the US State Department program on ‘Documentary Filmmaking in the US’.
  • Documentary Demons in Paradise’ is his second feature and it will premiere as a Special Screening at Cannes Film Festival in 2017

Learn more about Jude Ratman on IMDB.

Cannes Un Certain Regard

Directors, from left, Vanessa Redgrave and Kristen Stewart

‘Sea Sorrow’ by Vanessa Redgrave

Special ScreeningsSecond Feature Documentary

  • From actress, producer and director Vanessa Redgrave
  • She was born 1937, Greenwich, London, England, UK
  • She is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist
  • She is the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson
  • Determined to raise awareness of the plight of people fleeing persecution and poverty, death and destruction, she directed ‘Sea Sorrow’ as well as funding it herself.
  • ‘Sea Sorrow’  is her first long feature documentary
  • ‘Sea Sorrow’ is an examination of the historical context for the current migrant crisis
  • Oscar-winning actor Ralph Fiennes appears in her documentary, reciting Prospero’s words which “perfectly echo the tragedy of the drowned refugees”

Learn more about Vanessa Redgrave on IMDB and Facebook

Come Swim’  by Kristen Stewart

70th Anniversary Events/ Debut Short

  • From actress and director Kristen Stewart
  • Kristen Stewart has been a working actor since her early years in Los Angeles, California, where she was born in 1990
  • She received widespread recognition in 2008 for playing Bella Swan in The ‘Twilight’ Saga film series (2008–12)
  • She won the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2010 and was awarded the Milan International Film Festival Award for Best Actress in 2011 for Welcome to the Rileys (2010)
  • She is first American actress to win a César Award. for her role opposite Juliette Binoche in ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’
  • Her first short film is ‘Come Swim’ (2017) screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, where  it was nominated for for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize
  • Stewart wrote and directed the film as part of Refinery29’s ‘Shatterbox Anthology ‘ film series
  • She employed a ‘neural style transfer’, to layer her painting to the filmed images during the opening and closing sequences of the movie.
  • She said about her film: ‘I was really obsessed with putting someone somewhere that they wouldn’t naturally inhabit, and having them sort of dwell. In that time in my life, that was incredibly appealing to me…’
  • The short focuses on one man’s day, alternating between abstract, artistic representations of his broken heart and alarmingly realistic scenes showing him in a cubicle, attempting to get through the workday

Learn more about Kristen Stewart on IMDB or follow her on Twitter.