France / Mediterranean films at the Cannes Film Festival

The 71st Cannes Film Festival took place from May 8th to 19th. Mediterranean directors won awards not only in the main competition, but also in the parallel competitions.

Main section

In the main competition, Lebanese director Nadine Labaki won the jury prize with her third feature, “Capharnaüm”. Requiring three years research, Labaki’s film is both documentary and fiction. It’s about Zain, a 12-year-old living on the streets of Beirut with no official papers. He looks after his sister and the baby of an illegal Ethiopian immigrant. The scenario is fiction in which everything is true, where all the non-professional actors have lived similar stories. Zain is played by Zain Alrafeea, his first name maintained, a 14-year-old Syrian refugee spotted in the street.

Alice Rohrwacher, an Italian director, won the Best Screenplay Award in the main competition for “Happy as Lazzaro”, sharing the award with Iranian screenwriter Nader Saeivar for “Three Faces” directed by Jafar Panahi.

Directors’ Fortnight

This category, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, also helped highlight Mediterranean films. Although the fortnight is non-competitive, its partners award prizes. Frenchman Pierre Salvadori won the SACD prize for “En liberté!”. The Europa Cinemas Label was awarded to Gianni Zanasi’s “Troppa Grazia” (Lucia’s Grace) and Gaspard Noé won the CICAE Art Cinema Award with “Climax”.

There were several other Mediterranean films shown in this category: four from France (Philippe Faucon’s “Amin”, Guillaume Nicloux’ “Les confins du monde”, Romain Gavras’ “Le monde est à toi”  and a first feature by Marie Monge, “Joueurs”), two from Spain (“Petra” by Jaime Rosales and “Carmen et Lola” by Arantxa Echevarria) and one each from Serbia (Ognjen Glavonic’s  “The Road”) and Tunisia (Mohamed Ben Attia’s “Weldi, mon cher enfant”).

Golden Eye

SCAM (Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia), in partnership with INA (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel), gave the Golden Eye Award for best documentary to “La Strada dei Samouni”, by the Italian Stefano Savona. This documentary was produced by Picofilms and Dugong Films with Rai Cinema and Alter Ego Production, in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma and ARTE France Unité Société et Culture. French director Michel Toesca and British director Mark Cousins both received a special mention, respectively for “Libre” and “The Eyes of Orson Welles”.

Sources: Le monde, europe 1, the jakarta post, cineuropa,, france info, telerama, le figaro, première

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