A parallel festival created by the French Directors Guild, Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) seeks to aid filmmakers and contribute to their discovery by critics and audiences alike. The 2015 program includes 19 feature-length films, culled from 1,623 submissions, with three new works by Miami alumni Jaco Van Dormael, Ciro Guerra, and Fernando León de Aranoa.
Twenty-four years after winning the Camera d’Or for Toto the Hero (1991) Belgian-born writer/director Jaco van Dormael—previously in Miami with The Eighth Day in 1997 and Toto the Hero in 1992—returns to Cannes to present his latest work, The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament). In his first full screenwriting collaboration on a feature—with Thomas Gunzig—The Brand New Testament is a religious satire in which God lives in Brussels and accidentally sets off a panic after his disgruntled daughter leaks the apocalyptic plans he had stored on his computer. Did you catch that? God is alive, with a daughter, and stores His secrets on a computer! Catherine Deneuve, in Miami this past March with 3 Hearts and In the Name of My Daughter, also appears in the film.
Goya Award-winning Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa—previously in Miami with Amador in 2011; Invisibles (co-directed with Isabel Coixet, Mariano Barroso, Wim Wenders, and Javier Corcuera) in 2008; and Mondays in the Sun (Los lunes al sol) in 2003—marks his English language debut at the Fortnight with A Perfect Day. The dramedy, set in an armed conflict-zone somewhere in the Balkans, involves a group of aid workers who attempt to resolve a crisis following a cease-fire. The film stars Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko and is one of the few Spanish-directed titles premiering anywhere in Cannes.
Latin America has a limited presence in Cannes this year, but Colombian writer/director Ciro Guerra is participating with Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente). Guerra’s new film, a follow-up to his Cannes (2009) and Miami (2010) hit The Wind Journeys (Los viajes del viento), is an Amazon-set drama inspired by the journals of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg, and American Richard Evans Schultes, a renowned pioneer researcher into indigenous peoples’ use of plants. It is visually mesmerizing. The adventure, featuring knockout black-and-white cinematography, recounts the life-transcending friendship, between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman, last survivor of his people, and two scientists that, over the course of 40 years, travel through the Amazon in search of a sacred plant that can heal them. The Amazon’s history has been so tough for the indigenous inhabitants that their reply has been silence—this film gives them a voice. The Directors’ Fortnight runs May 14–24 — view full program. —Tatyana Chiocchetti