The Cannes Film Festival has revealed the selections for the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar of the festival, a non-competitive section awarded by the Société des Réalisateurs Français. Last year, the section awarded Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s "Mustang" with the Europa Cinemas Label Award.
After women earned dismal representation in the Cannes main competition slate with only 15 percent women-directed films, and again during the Critics’ Week lineup with 14 percent, the Directors Fortnight, with 22 percent female-directed films, marks a slight improvement. (At least it’s above the 20 percent mark — a low benchmark to be sure, but a benchmark other Cannes programs have failed to meet.)
Of this year’s group of 18 features, only four were directed by women: "The Aquatic Effect," directed by Sólveig Anspach; "Risk," directed by Laura Poitras; "Wolf and Sheep," directed by Shahrbanoo Sadat; and "Divines," directed by Houda Benyamina
Two of these films appeared on our list of 20 films by women we hoped to see at Cannes. We anticipated seeing "The Aquatic Effect," the Icelandic-French filmmaker Anspach’s final film, which follows a crane operator who falls for a swimming instructor. The Cannes regular passed away from breast cancer at 54 while the film was in post-production.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sadat is returning to Cannes with her first feature, "Wolf & Sheep." The Afghan screenwriter, producer and director’s first short film "Vice Versa One" was selected at Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2011. In 2013, she opened her own production company "Wolf Pictures" in Kabul.
Poiras is following up her Academy Award win for "CITIZENFOUR" with "Risk," which, like her Oscar winner, follows a whistle blower in hiding. This time around she’s shining a spotlight on WikiLeak’s editor-in-chief Julian Assange.
Benyamina is debuting her first feature, "Divines," which, according to Cineuropa, "revolves around 15-year-old Dounia, who lives with her mother on the Les Pyramides estate, where she is known by the nickname ‘bâtarde’ (‘Bastard’). She builds up a protective tomboy image for herself and resolves to become a big shot in the neighborhood. An intense friendship and a passionate love affair will then force her to face up to her contradictions."
By debuting their debut films, Benyamina and Sadat are eligible to win the Camera d’Or, the Golden Camera, which is awarded to best first feature.
[via The Hollywood Reporter]