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The Conversation: Top 3 Most Anticipated Directors’ Fortnight Picks: Denis, Baker & Dumont

The Conversation: Top 3 Most Anticipated Directors’ Fortnight Picks: Denis, Baker & Dumont

Cannes 2017 is already a notable edition thanks to the festival’s inclusion of auteur helmed television entries, and (to the chagrin of some traditional minds) the appearance of Netflix properties in the main competition. But beyond these unavoidable progressions, the same kinds of regular maneuvering continues. While some auteurs locked out of the comp in 2015 have been invited back to the fold (Desplechin, Kawase) of Fremaux’s loving arms, the usual trend of displacement has crafted an unusually exciting crop of titles in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, as well as miscellaneous groupings of designated Special Screenings and Out of Competition slots specifically designed for auteurs who will remain part of the official program but away from the glaring inspection of competition pressures.

Edouard Waintrop scored a formidable coup with his opening film this year, Claire DenisLet the Sunshine In (previously known as “Dark Sunglasses”). Denis, one of France’s finest auteurs, has been consistently overlooked by Fremaux and usually appears in competition at Venice. Alongside Denis, Waintrop snagged some Sundance titles (Bushwick, Patti Cake$) and a number of new projects from noted auteurs, like Abel Ferrara, Philippe Garrel, Sharunas Bartas, and Amos Gitai. The lineup also features a number of anticipated titles from new directors, including the sophomore film from Jonas Carpignano (A Ciambra), and some eclectic art-house genre titles (like the delicious sounding Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts from Indonesia’s Mouly Surya). Here’s our top three most anticipated from the Quinzaine:

Top 3 Quinzaine:

3. Jeannette – Dir. Bruno Dumont
Bruno Dumont, who was in the main comp last year with cannibal slapstick comedy Slack Bay, returns with an electro-pop musical on Joan of Arc set during the young girl’s developmental years, as based in part on a work by Charles Peguy.

2. The Florida Project – Sean Baker
Sean Baker returns to 35mm after 2015’s phenomenal Tangerine (famously shot on an iPhone). The American auteur’s latest stars Willem Dafoe alongside a group of newcomers in a film focusing on a six-year-old girl and her group of friends one Floridian summer as they embark on adventures while the adults contend with hard times.

1. Let the Sunshine In – Claire Denis
Inexplicably, Denis unites Juliette Binoche and Gerard Depardieu in this adaptation of Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. And this is a comedy. Sacré bleu!


For this year’s select out-of-competition titles, Fremaux amassed some glittery new titles from renowned auteurs.

Top 3 OOC:

3. Ismael’s Ghosts – Dir. Arnaud Desplechin
Desplechin is back, this time opening up the festival with Ismael’s Ghosts, starring his regular muse Mathieu Amalric as a man caught between his current wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the ghost of his former lover (Marion Cotillard, who previously had a small role in 1996’s My Sex Life…).

2. Based on a True Story – Dir. Roman Polanski
Polanski returns with this intriguing sounding film written by Olivier Assayas and starring Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner, which details a writer who gets all wrapped up with an obsessive fan.

1. How to Talk to Girls at Parties – Dir. John Cameron Mitchell
The long awaited sci-fi film from John Cameron Mitchell stars Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman (in one of four new projects at the festival) as aliens infiltrating London, based on a story by Neil Gaiman.

Special Events and Special Screenings:
Some of the auteurs standing out in the Special Events and Special Screenings are Abbas Kiarostami, Jane Campion, and a Virtual Reality project from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Flesh and Sand), making these mini-sidebars some of the most formidable programming of the fest in years.

3. Golden Years – Andre Techine
Techine was last in Cannes with an out-of-competition screening with 2014’s In the Name of My Daughter. This year he gets a Special Screening with Golden Years, scripted alongside Cedric Anger and starring Pierre Deladonchamps (Stranger by the Lake) as a WWI deserter who goes into hiding by posing as a woman…but after the war ends, he can’t bring himself to revert to his former identity.

2. Claire’s Camera – Dir. Hong Sangsoo
Cannes 2017 will deliver a double dose of Hong Sangsoo, who returns to the competition with The Day After, who then gets to debut Claire’s Camera as a Special Screening, which reunites him with Isabelle Huppert (who headlined his 2012 In Another Country). Sangsoo filmed this project at Cannes while the festival transpired in 2016.

1. Twin Peaks – David Lynch
And then, there’s the return of the master. David Lynch will be premiering the first two episodes of Twin Peaks, the hotly anticipated reunion of the iconic television show twenty-five years after the end of Season 2. Along with Campion’s unveiling of her second season of Top of the Lake, this will be a rare opportunity to see (at least partially) these new works in the cinema.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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