Thursday, May 08, 2014

2014 Cannes Check #10: The Lesser-Known Directors

A group that includes the directors that I am NOT familiar with, that have not seen their previous movies and that will try to "meet" them with this exercise.

#10.1 Damián Szifron

Have to start by sharing that I am one of many that do not easily understand why organizers choose Szifrom movie for the main competition and sent Jauja by Lisandro Alonso to Un Certain Regard section. No, in paper is hard to understand as Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) looks and feels very "commercial" while Lisando Alonso's films have always been extraordinary art cinema, well that's it until Jauja that is his first step into a wider audiences cinema. Sigh. Well let's hope that movie by Szifron is worth the honor besides surely having a great performer, Ricardo Darín, in the lead.

Born in Ramos Mejía, La Matanza, Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 1975 Damián Szifron has a limited filmography as a director and a bit more extensive as a writer, but seems he's best known as the creator of the TV series Los Simuladores in 2002.

This is his first time ever in Cannes but seems that he has been around the Spanish-speaking film festival circuit and his film El fondo del mar (2003) was in San Sebastian fest and won a Special Mention in the Horizons section. I have no clear expectations about this film but there are two credentials that tell me that I will have to see the movie; first, it is a production by the Almodóvar brothers and second, I see everything (good or bad) with Ricardo Darín.

For my Spanish-speaking readers here is what Pedro Almodóvar said after learning that film was in competition.
Desde “Tiempo de Valientes” teníamos interés en trabajar con Damián Szifrón, por fin ha podido ser y estamos entusiasmados con el resultado. Es una gran noticia que el Festival de Cannes haya seleccionado su película “Relatos salvajes” para la Competición. Voy con la misma ilusión y curiosidad, pero con menos nervios, que si fuera una película dirigida por mí.
The good news is that seem Pedro will be in La Croisette!!!

If you wish to learn more about the movie go here, that is the facebook page, availble in Spanish only.

Basic Info about Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales)
Director: Damián Szifron
Scriptwriter: Damián Szifron
Language: Spanish
Runtime: 122
Production countries: Argentina and Spain
Production companies: El Deseo S.A., Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA), Kramer & Sigman Films, Telefe
Starring: Ricardo Darín.

Plot Summary
An intense, outrageous and darkly funny multiple-story film. Labeled as thriller, comedy.

The Trailer

#10.1 Abderrahmane Sissako

Sissako has been coming to Cannes since 1991 when his graduation film, The Game, was screened at La Semaine; then in 1993 his film Octobre (medium-length film)was screened in Un Certain Regard section, came back in 1998 with La vie sur Terre in a parallel section, returned to Un Certain Regard in 2002 with Heremakono, was out of competition in 2006 with Bamako and now in 2014 has a film in competition, Timbuktu. Besides he has been a jury member in 2000 (short films), 2003 (president of Un Certain Regard) and 2007 (jury member main competition). Definitively he is a Cannes regular.

Born in 1961 in Kiffa, Mauritania, was raised in Mali, his father's homeland. Went to study film at VGIK in Moscow and his graduation film, The Game was in the Critics' Week since then he distinguishes himself as one of the most important filmmakers of his continent. His latest film looks/feels like one that will not be easy-to-watch as seems story is political but visuals/images show great compositions, so probably will be easy on the eyes.

Surprisingly for me film has very good odds at betting sites, suggesting that there are many that speculate film could win the Palme d'Or.

Basic Info about Timbuktu - also known as Timbuktu (Le Chagrin des Oiseaux)
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Scriptwriter: Abderrahmane Sissako
Language: French and Arabic
Runtime: 100 min
Production countries: France and Mauritania
Production companies: Les Films du Worso, Arte France Cinéma, Orange Studio, Arches Films

Plot Summary
Not far from Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Toya, and Issan, their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes when Kidane accidentally kills Amadou, the fisherman who slaughtered "GPS", his beloved cow. He now has to face the new laws of the foreign occupants.

Film Stills


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