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2023 Cannes Film Festival Predictions – Directors’ Fortnight

2023 Cannes Film Festival Predictions – Directors’ Fortnight

The Director’s Fortnight didn’t simply give itself a new coat of paint but rather a heart transplant. Quinzaine des Réalisateurs is now a thing of the past and Quinzaine des cinéastes takes care of the gender pronoun issues. Artistic Director Paolo Moretti’s reign was cut short and the 55th edition will be piloted by Julien Rejl. We’re assuming that the section will keep in its subversive spirit, especially in a year where Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles took over the Best Film of all time number one spot in the recently published Sight & Sound but what types of films will be programmed is anyone’s guess.

Among last year’s highlights we had Manuela Martelli’s 1976, Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Charlotte Le Bon’s Falcon Lake and Mia Hansen-Løve’s One Fine Morning. Here are twenty titles that I think have a legit shot at grabbing one of the approximate two dozen or so spots.

Amanhã Será Outro Dia – 🇵🇹
Pedro Pinho
Producers: Tiago Hespanha, Filipa Reis
For his sophomore fiction feature (he began working in the docu world), Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Pinho moves southward towards Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau for Amanhã Será Outro Dia (Tomorrow Will Be Another Day). Pinho had his feature fic debut The Nothing Factory premiere in the Quinzaine in 2017. This follows Alberto – a Portuguese environmental engineer that decides to change his life. He travels to a metropolis in Western Africa (an imaginary and futuristic city that has both Guinea-Bissau and Luanda), where he starts working as an engineer on the construction of a road between the jungle and the desert. Shaken by the hostility of the elements, the oppressive heat and the loneliness, Alberto meets Ema and Ben. This is a Portugal, France, Romania and Brazil co-production. Sales: TBA.

Avant que les flammes ne s’éteignent – 🇫🇷
Mehdi Fikri
Producers: Bastien Daret, Michael Gentile, Arthur Goisset, Robin Robles.
Also going by the international title of “After the Fire,” Mehdi Fikri landed at the Venice Film Festival with his 2021 short and might wait it out for another presence on the Lido but his fiery directorial debut might heat up Quinzaine programmers instead. Starring Camelia Jordana, Sofiane Zermani, Sofian Khammes, Makita Samba, Samir Guesmi and Sonia Faidi, Avant que les flammes ne s’éteignent is a drama about police violence that hones in on life inside of a family following police misconduct, this time showing all of the interfamilial inner turmoil and coming together in tragedy not usually seen in headlines or in media coverage. This is being coined as a Les Misérables from a female perspective. Sales: Wild Bunch Intl.

Banel & Adama – 🇫🇷
Ramata-Toulaye Sy
Producers: Eric Névé, Margaux Juvénal, Maud Leclair.
A directorial debut that could end up swooning several sections along the Croisette, Ramata-Toulaye Sy‘s debut film is walking out of 2022 with the buzz of having landed Red Sea Souk Award. The French-Senegalese filmmaker was at Clermont-Ferrand and TIFF with her short “Astel”, but she has worked in the writing capacity on Guillaume Giovanetti and Çagla Zencirci’s Sibel (2018) and Atiq Rahimi’s Our Lady of the Nile (2019). Production on Banel & Adama took place in May of ’22 – it tells the story of young adults Banel and Adama who live in a small remote village in northern Senegal. Adama is introverted and discreet while Banel is passionate and rebellious, they are destined to love each other with an eternal love. But the couple will be put to the test by the conventions of the community, because where they live, there is no place for passions, and even less for the chaos. We firmly place the debut (#88) among our most anticipated films for 2023. Sales: TBA.

Civil War – 🇬🇧
Alex Garland
Producers: Gregory Goodman, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich.
Much like they did last year, we expect A24 to sprinkle their slate a bit everywhere on the Croisette and we might get some deja vu vibes if the team strategizes to have Alex Garland follow up the Men premiere with the tightly-sealed epic action movie Civil War – a project that the filmmaker considers being a companion piece to his last film. With Kirsten Dunst toplining this could actually have been considered for the comp. Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, Karl Glusman and Sonoya Mizuno also star. Garland reteamed with his cinematographer Rob Hardy on this fourth feature in the Garland canon back in March to May of last year but we imagine the scope might demand a bit more time in post. A24.

La Cocina – 🇲🇽
Alonso Ruizpalacios
Producers: Gerardo Gatica González, Lauren Mann, Ivan Orlic, Ramiro Ruiz
When for Gueros (2014), Museo (2018) and A Cop Movie (2021) filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios didn’t shore up at his regular stop at the Berlinale we figured that perhaps programmers from another fest might have already secured this fourth feature. Starring Rooney Mara, La Cocina is based on the play by Arnold Wesker and follows the life in the kitchen of a NYC restaurant where cultures from all over the world blend during the lunchtime rush. We have this ranked extremely high up on our Top 200 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2023 list – grabbing the #20 spot. Sales: TBA.


Darling – 🇧🇪
Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Producers: Gap­busters’s Bernard Devillers, Les Films Band with Pictures’ Michael Solomon.
Some subversive animated cinema might be in the cards this year with Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani‘s foray into swirly 60s NYC terrain. While their work in Amer (2009), The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013), and Let the Corpses Tan (2017) have premiered at fests elsewhere, we bet this adaptation of Iris Owens’ first erotica novel in the 50’s titled Darling is a good fit here. This tells the tale of Gloria, a young painter in her twenties, lives in the underground artistic microcosm of the Big Apple. One night, she is attacked and raped by a mysterious character with white eyes. This aggression provokes an inner cataclysm that inexorably pushes her towards self-destruction. In order to put an end to the chaos he has caused in her, Gloria decides to search for this man in the streets of New York. We don’t know the voice cast at this point but we have heard that the animation is inspired by Satoshi Kon. Sales: TBA.

Eau-forte – 🇫🇷
Just Philippot
Producers: Yves Darondeau, Clément Renouvin, Jérôme Seydoux, Ardavan Safaee
For this sophomore feature, Just Philippot plunges back into his own filmography (the Sundance-selected short Acide) and made it into the long form. Guillaume Canet, Laetitia Dosch, Patience Munchenbach and Marie Jung star in a tale set in the middle of a heat wave, where an ominous cloud appears and with it, a lethal acid rain. A separated family will have to come together to escape this plague ravaging the world. Philippot was part of the pandemic line-up of the Critics’ Week with 2020’s The Swarm. Eau-forte landed the #50 spot in our Top 200 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2023. Sales: Pathe.


The Front Room – 🇺🇸
Max Eggers, Sam Eggers
Producers: 2AM’s Julia Oh, David Hinojosa + Two & Two Pictures’ Lucan Toh, Babak Anvari, Bryan Sonderman
With deep ties to the Directors’ Fortnight section establish auteur filmmaker Robert Eggers’ preemed The Lighthouse here and Babak Anvari did the same with 2019’s Wounds, we are thinking the genre-friendly supporting section might help launch the rest of the Eggers family tree. Max Eggers and Sam Eggers directed Kathryn Hunter and Brandy Norwood in a psychological horror thriller film that tells the story of a young, newly pregnant couple who is forced to take in an ailing, estranged stepmother. The Front Room would have went into production late last summer. A24.

Funny Birds – 🇫🇷
Marco La Via, Hanna Ladoul
Producers: Aimée Buidine, Mélita Toscan du Plantier, Raphael Gindre, Julien Madon
As we recall, Marco La Via and Hanna Ladoul first began their fiklm career on the Croisette when Nous Les Coyotes premiered in the 2018 ACID section. Fast-forward to their sophomore film and they’ve got a legit chance to showcase their low budget mystery film (they lensed in Brussels and in the US) in Cannes. They re-teamed with thesp Morgan Saylor and managed to land Catherine Deneuve and Andrea Riseborough for a film about damaged relationships. Funny Birds filmed in October of last year – so a safer festival premiere bet would be a bit later this year – but perhaps two heads are quicker than one. Thrown together under tragic circumstances, three generations of women from the same family are forced to learn to live together on a small rural chicken farm in New Jersey, which generates moving and amusing situations. Sales: Newen Connect.

Handling the Undead – 🇳🇴
Thea Hvistendahl
Producers: Einar Film’s Kristin Emblem, Guri Neby.
There’ll be Cannes participation rumors swirling for Håndtering av udøde or as the rest will come to know it: Handling the Undead. First time Norwegian filmmaker Thea Hvistendahl odds for a visit Croisette are helped tremendously by the pair she cast in this horror drama in Cannes Best Actress winner Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie (reuniting for a third time). On an abnormally hot summer day in Oslo, a strange electric field surrounds the city as a collective migraine spreads across town. TVs, lightbulbs, and electronics go haywire, the chaos reaching a debilitating crescendo when suddenly, it’s over. The battle of accepting what we can’t control which weaves together three families through their loss. Neon.

HLM Pussy – 🇫🇷
Nora El Hourch
Producers: Manny Films’ Philippe Gompel
Seeing that production took place late last year there are slim chances that Nora el Hourch‘s directorial debut might be ready in time. She had her 2015 short Quelques secondes premiere in the section and we’re getting the feeling that we’ll find some of the same synergy here with HLM Pussy. Bérénice Bejo, Médina Diarra, Leah Aubert and Salma Takaline topline the film (co-written with Eléonore Gurrey – The Worst Ones scribe), that tells story of Amina, Djeneba and Zineb, three inseparable teens who post a video on social media challenging the person who attacked one of them: a kingpin on a local housing estate. They will need to choose between saving their friendship or giving into pressure. Maxence Lemonnier is the cinematographer here. Sales: Memento International.

Left-Handed-Girl – 🇹🇼
Shih-Ching Tsou
Producers: TBD
While this is her feature debut (solo), it would nonetheless be a homecoming of sorts if Shih-Ching Tsou sets foot in the section because she was one of the producers on Sean Baker’s The Florida Project. The filmmaker filmed Left-Handed-Girl in Taipei this past July. Information of the film is scarce but we know this is a family drama set in Taipei. Tsou co-directed Take Out with Sean Baker back in 2004. Sales: TBA.



MMXX – 🇷🇴
Cristi Puiu
Producers: Anca Puiu, Dragos Bucur, Dorian Boguta
With the exception of his last film in the Berlin preemed Malmkrog, Cristi Puiu has pretty much been a mainstay in Cannes with notables The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Aurora and Sieranevada, but its in the Quinzaine where he got his start with 2001’s Stuff and Dough. A dramatic comedy, this is about a young therapist named Oana who is visibly distracted by a questionnaire she is supposed to submit to her patient. Mihai Dumitru, Oana’s younger brother, worries about the preparations of his anniversary and not realizing how inappropriate his demands are, is stuck in a story far bigger than what he can handle. Septimiu Pfifer, Oana’s husband, is concerned about his health regarding a possible Covid-19 contamination, and is vaguely listening to a strange story his ambulance colleague was caught inside long ago, while waiting for the next emergency call. Narcis Patranescu, an organized crime inspector, perturbed by the recent death of one of his colleagues, is on the grip of an unsettling dark story while interrogating a young woman during a funeral. Sales: TBA.

Pedagio – 🇧🇷
Carolina Markowicz
Producers: Fernando Fraiha, Carolina Markowicz, Bianca Villar, Biônica Filmes’ Karen Castanho.
After premiering her feature debut Charcoal at last year’s TIFF and Donostia-San Sebastian, we’re thinking that Brazilian cinema will once again surface in the Quinzaine section with Carolina Markowicz‘s sophomore feature Toll. Once again featuring Maeve Jinkings (of Neighboring Sounds and Neon Bull fame), this tells the tale of Suellen – a toll booth attendant who starts using her job to help a gang of thieves steal watches from people driving to the coast. But only for a noble cause: to send her son to an expensive gay conversion workshop. Markowicz had her short film The Orphan selected in the section back in 2018. Sales: Luxbox Sales.

The Dog Thief – 🇨🇱
Vinko Tomicic
Producers: Color Monter’s Alvaro Manzano, Zafiro Cinema’s Gabriela Maire and Edher Campos.
Another directorial debut we are big on is Chilean filmmaker Vinko Tomicic – who was part of the Cannes Festival Cinefondation Residence with this project – a France, Italy, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico and Chile co-production. The Dog Thief was filmed in late 2021 with Alfredo Castro, Franklin Aros and Teresa Ruiz. This is about a 13-year-old orphan shoeshine boy from La Paz, Bolivia, who has lived his entire life in the streets with the hope and desire to find his father. Driven by this desire and his imagination, Martin begins to suspect that one of his best clients is his father; Mr Novoa, a lonely tailor whose only emotional bond is his dog, Astor, a fine German shepherd whom he cares for like a son. If selected, this will be our frontrunner for the Palme Dog award.

Miguel Gomes
Producers: TBC
Currently lensing the shot on 16mm Grand Tour – a project that will drop next year, we’re in the mindset that a fest premiere date was locked a bit in advance with Gomes returning to the section that has promoted his most recent major works in all three parts of Arabian Nights (2015) and The Tsugua Diaries which he co-directed with Maureen Fazendeiro. Among our most anticipated films for 2023 (#37 position), ‎Savagery is a chronicle of a bloody war that pitted the inhabitants of the hamlet of Canudos, led by their prophet, against the army of the young Brazilian Republic in 1897. Sales: The Match Factory.


Skunk – 🇧🇪
Koen Mortier
Producer: Czar Film & Tv’s Eurydice Gysel.
Hold onto your hats, Koen Mortier‘s long awaited fourth feature will finally show this year and a lot of ink might be spilled. The Flemish filmmaker moved into production back in autumn of 2021 – with the likes of Thibaud Dooms, Natali Broods, Boris Van Severen and Dirk Roofthooft. The book-to-film film project titled Skunk follows Liam, a neglected teen who is taken away from his parents’ home, where substances and violence reigned. Trading his school for a closed youth facility, he has trouble starting over again as he gets bullied even worse there. Although Liam finds solace with a new friend and social workers at first, when he revisits old trauma’s during counselling, his past keeps haunting him. Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis reteams with Mortier once again – the pair worked on shorts and the 2018 film Angel. Sales: Reason8 Films.

Simple comme Sylvain – 🇨🇦
Monia Chokri
Producers: Metafilms’ Sylvain Corbeil and Nancy Grant.
Born on the Croisette when Xavier Dolan’s Les Amours imaginaires premiered in the Un Certain Regard section in 2010, Monia Chokri has been a breakneck speedster with her  irreverent kind of cinema with 2019’s A Brother’s Love, which was followed by last year’s Babysitter. We think this third outing in the rom com titled Simple comme Sylvain might meet the brilliance of her 2013 premiered Locarno short Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire – which reteams Chokri with thesp Magalie Lépine-Blondeau. Also on la carte we find Pierre-Yves Cardinal, François Létourneau and Chokri herself in the story of Sophia, a 40-year-old philosophy professor who is in a stable if somewhat socially-conforming relationship with Xavier. From gallery openings to endless dinner parties, ten years have already flown by. Sylvain is a craftsman, renovating Sophia and Xavier’s new country house. When Sophia and Sylvain meet, Sophia’s world is turned upside down. Cinematographer André Turpin works with Chokri for a first time. Sales: Mk2 Films.

Some Rain Must Fall – 🇨🇳
Qiu Yang
Producers: Mike Goodridge, Mélissa Malinbaum, Edmond Yang
There is a strong possibility that Qiu Yang‘s feature debut will be courted by all programmer heads on the Croisette – ultimately this might not be a dealer’s choice decision. Yang got his big break on the Croisette when his short “A Gentle Night” won the Palme d’Or short in 2017 and he would pop up again in the Critics’ Week section for another winning film in “She Runs.” A recent Cinéfondation Residence surely helped move this filmmaker forward on a film project starring Aier Yu, Shike Di and Yibo Wei. Yang reteams with cinematographer Constanze Schmitt for (a Critics’ Week supported) Some Rain Must Fall which follows 40-year-old housewife Cai who has lost track of who she is and who she wants to be. During one of her daughter’s basketball matches, she inadvertently injures an elderly woman. This seemingly trivial event is a catalyst for a life spinning out of control, as past events resurface while she moves into an unknown future.

Un silence – 🇧🇪
Joachim Lafosse
Producers: Alexis Dantec, Anton Iffland Stettner, Eva Kuperman, Antonio Lombardo, Jani Thiltges, Régine Vial
Croisette regular Joachim Lafosse‘s last film The Restless was in competition for the Palme back in the fest relaunch in 2021, and in a year that will likely be stacked we think this might sidestep over to the JW Marriott. Un silence (formerly titled Le Fils de la Loi) went into production last August with the likes of Emmanuelle Devos and Daniel Auteuil – and it tells the tale of Astrid (Devos), the wife of an acclaimed lawyer (Auteuil). Silenced for 25 years, her family balance suddenly collapses when her children initiate their search for justice. Sales: Les Films du Losange.


This week in our 2023 Cannes Film Festival predictions:
Critics’ Week – Tuesday
Directors’ Fortnight – Wednesday
Un Certain Regard – Thursday
Out of Competition – TBD
Main Competition – TBD

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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