This is the first year of the tenure of Julien Rejl, who has become the Artistic Director of the Directors' Fortnight, following Paolo Moretti who stepped down right after the 2022 edition. Rejl revealed the selection of the Directors' Fortnight -- as the section is known to English speakers -- the upcoming 55th edition. He said: "The Directors’ Fortnight was born when a community of directors came together with the desire to create an independent space that would encourage the emergence of free filmmaking regardless of geographical provenance or any other limiting criteria. At the heart of the creation of the Directors’ Fortnight was the singular quality of a work of art and the impossibility of pigeonholing it." Then continued, to describe this year's lineup: "We have chosen to present 30 films to you which, through their own unique language, embody a spirit of resistance to any form of ideology and to dominant narratives."
In the past, filmmakers such as Sofia Coppola, the Dardenne brothers, Xavier Dolan, Jim Jarmusch, Pablo Larrain, Jafar Panahi and even Spike Lee got their start in Cannes in this esteemed section, which showcases works by auteurs of the seventh art.
Among the films to be showcased this year are Agra, by Indian filmmaker Kanu Behl, whose previous film Titli premiered in Un Certain Regard in 2014. But also Déserts by Moroccan filmmaker Faouzi Bensaïdi, whose 2017 title Volubilis starred the stunning Nadia Kounda (with whom I had the pleasure to be on the Jury for Short Films in El Gouna). Also in the lineup In Flames, an Urdu-language horror film by Canadian-Pakistani filmmaker Zarrar Kahn. Also a notable presence is Cameroonian film director Rosine Mbakam's Mambar Pierrette and in the shorts section of the Directors' Fortnight is German-based Jordanian multimedia artist and filmmaker Faris Alrjoob's follow up to his 2020 short The Ghosts We Left at Home, this one also evocatively titled The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry.
Earlier this month, the Quinzaine announced that the coveted Carrosse d'Or will be awarded to Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cissé on 17 May in Cannes. The award, a reference to a film by Jean Renoir, celebrates filmmakers for "the innovative qualities of their work, for their audacity and intransigence in staging and production".
In the ACID program, a cool sidebar organized by the Association for the Distribution of Independent Cinema, there is a cool title that caught my eye at this year's DFI Qumra -- Machtat, the second documentary feature by French-Tunisian director Sonia Ben Slama. The film follows a woman and her two daughters who work as wedding singers in Tunis and will world premiere at the Swiss festival Visions du Reel. But also Lebanese French co-production La mer et ses vagues by Liana & Renaud which the filmmakers described as "an original and poetic Mediterranean tale, between creative documentary and musical comedy."
For the full lineups, check out the Quinzaine website and the ACID site.