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Following last week’s announcement of the main competition program, all eyes are now focused on Edouard Waintrop’s selection for the 2017 Directors’ Fortnight (April 20th). As usual, many of the predicted auteur films which didn’t make Fremaux’s final cut for the main competition or Un Certain Regard could be fair game to turn up here, although many a notable name has been known to hold off for a higher berth premiere out of Venice. While both Abdellatif Kechiche and Carlos Reygadas were clear their new works would not be ready in time for various reasons (and may be strong contenders for Cannes 2018), we’re most curious to see if Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, which was disqualified due to her producer Pedro Almodovar heading the Cannes comp jury, will bow in the Fortnight.

Beyond the unfortunate absence of Martel, Fremaux left many a notable auteur out in the cold, including several high profile Francophones. While we expect two more titles to be late additions (Fremaux hinted at the possibility of a Chinese title), the absence of Claire Denis’ Dark Sunglasses is indeed dismaying. Fellow countrymen Philippe Garrel (One Day Lover), Bruno Dumont (Jeannette), Serge Bozon (Madame Hyde), Andre Techine (Our Roaring Twenties), Erick Zonca (Black River), and Xavier Beauvois (Les Gardiennes) were all strong contenders as well, and we hope some of them turn up (Bozon seems a strong possibility since both his previous films bowed in the Fortnight). Seeing as Garrel opened the Directors’ Fortnight in 2015 with In the Shadow of Women, we expect another auteur of similar stature to snag the distinction, perhaps Roman Polanski’s Based on a True Story.

A continuing trend of Fortnight’s programming tends to favor genre films, which may explain why Ruben Ostlund’s The Square and Joachim Trier’s Thelma were both locked out of the competition. With a little luck, Belgian duo Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Let the Bodies Sunbathe! will get their first Cannes premiere here. Likewise, new films from Marco Dutra (Good Manners), and Denis Cote (Your Skin So Smooth) top our list of a whole slew of other anticipated items such as , Florence Quentin’s Bonne Pomme, Robert Guediguian’s The House By the Sea, F.J. Ossang’s 9 Fingers, and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s A Season in France. We also expect to see several English language genre items show up here, and new films by Sebastian Silva (Tyrel), Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night), David Robert Mitchell (Under the Silver Lake), Nicolas Pesce (Piercing), and Per Fly‘s (Backstabbing for Beginners) could be potentials. For international premieres, Sundance’s A Ghost Story could also land on in the section.

The absence of Deniz Gamze Erguven (Kings) and Michael Roskam (The Racer and the Jailbird), both bandied about as possible comp titles, make us wonder if they’ll show up here. Some UK names such as Andrew Haigh (Lean on Pete) and Clio Barnard (Black River) are also still in contention. A lack of Italian entries could bode well for Andrea Pallaoro’s The Whale (although Venice seems more likely), and a number of other outliers such as Sean Baker (The Florida Project), Lav Diaz (When the Waves are Gone), Anup Singh (The Song of Scorpions), Guillaume Galliene (Maryline), and Nobuhiro Suwa’s The Lion is Dead Tonight would also be welcome possibilities to the Fortnight’s announcement. Since the main competition has been averse to programming documentaries, the Fortnight could be a happy home for his last film Frederick Wiseman’s latest, Ex Libris — New York Public Library. A pair of Polish filmmakers, Urszula Antoniak (Beyond Worlds) and Malgorzata Szumowska (Face) also have projects in the eaves.

Less predictable are the new discoveries which await us in the Critics’ Week lineup (set to be unveiled April 24th), although we can expect to see some new French titles as well as some possible higher profile debuts, such as the Renier Bros.’ Carnivores. Artistic Director Charles Tesson might look to re-invite Santiago Mitre, who won the top prize in 2015, has a high profile sophomore feature The Summit ready, so could potentially show up in one of these sidebars and in the same line of thinking, Jonas Carpignano could return to the section with his 2nd film, A Ciambra. Also from the US, considering that she showcased her short film a couple of years back, Dunst could re-appear in the the Critics’ Week with the debut film by Kate and Laura Mulleavy (the psychological thriller Woodshock) and the kooky comedy horror Slice from Austin Vesely could be showcased if a Sundance or SXSW title isn’t favored.

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Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, TIFF and AFI. His top 3 for 2016: Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade), Elle (Paul Verhoeven) and OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman).

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