French Cinema 2015: Hot Directors/Hot Films

“The Brand New Testament”

Jaco van Dormael


Van Dormael won the Camera d’Or for “Toto the Hero” (1991) and placed in competition with “The Eighth Day” (1996), but was passed over for a competition slot for his ambitious sci-fi epic “Mr. Nobody” (2009).


New film is low-cost, high-concept religious satire in which God (played by Benoit Poelvoorde) accidentally sets off a panic after his disgruntled daughter (Yolande Moreau) leaks the apocalyptic plans he had stored on his computer. Catherine Deneuve also appears.


“Close Protection”


Alice Winocour 


This French Riviera-set thriller stars Mathias Schoenaerts as a French Special Forces soldier suffering PTSD after fighting in Afghanistan, and Diane Kruger as the wife of his new employer.


Winocour’s previous film, “Augustine” (2012), premiered in Cannes Critics’ Week. 



Jacques Audiard 


The French auteur has proven himself a specialist in gritty stories from Paris’ underbelly, and his latest, already acquired by IFC’s Sundance Selects, stars Vincent Rottiers as a Sri Lankan Tamil fighter working as a caretaker on a council estate in the city.


Audiard was previously in competition with 1996’s “A Self-Made Hero” (which won a screenplay prize), 2009’s “A Prophet” (which received the Grand Prix) and 2012’s “Rust and Bone.”



Lucile Hadzhihalilovic


More than a decade after making “Innocence” (2004), her critically acclaimed debut feature set in an all-girls’ boarding school, Hadzhihalilovic returns with a strange fantasy set in a seaside village where the boys are subjected to bizarre medical experiments.


Max Brebant, Roxane Duran and Julie-Marie Parmentier star.


“Les Anarchistes”


Elie Wajeman


Cannes favorite actor Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet,” “The Past”) and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”) star in this drama about a police sergeant who infiltrates an anarchist group in late-19th-century Paris.


It’s the sophomore feature by France-based director Wajeman, whose 2012 debut, “Aliyah,” screened in Directors’ Fortnight.



Gaspar Noe


Noe has a history of shocking Cannes audiences, his Critics’ Week prize-winning debut, “I Stand Alone” (1998), his notorious competition entries, “Irreversible” (2002) and “Enter the Void” (2009). His fourth feature, “Love,” a sexually explicit triangle involving two girls and a guy, could be another Cannes scandale



Xavier Giannoli


Catherine Frot plays an aspiring opera singer with a terrible voice in this drama set in 1920s Paris, loosely based on the life of the American chanteuse Florence Foster Jenkins. It’s not the first time Giannoli has focused on the life of a musician: His 2006 drama “The Singer,” starring Gerard Depardieu, played in competition at Cannes, as did 2009’s “In the Beginning.”


“Mon roi”



The actress-director received a Cannes jury prize in 2011 for her ensemble comedy-drama “Polisse,” and she could be back in competition with her fourth feature, a love story starring Emmanuelle Bercot and Vincent Cassel. 


“Nos arcadies”

Arnaud Desplechin


A sure French contenders for the Palme d’Or. Mathieu Amalric reprises his role as Paul Dedalus in this prequel to Desplechin’s celebrated three-hour talkfest “My Sex Life … or How I Got Into an Argument,” which bowed in competition at Cannes in 1996.


The French auteur has previously been up for the Palme d’Or four other times, with “La Sentinelle” (1992), “Esther Kahn” (2000), “A Christmas Tale” (2008) and “Jimmy P.” (2013).


“The White Knights”

Joachim Lafosse 


The Belgian helmer previously landed in Un Certain Regard with his powerful family tragedy “Our Children” (2012), and his sixth feature, starring Vincent Lindon  as a humanitarian worker trying to rescue 300 children from war-torn Chad, could play in competition. 


The film also stars Yannick Renier, Reda Kateb, Valerie Donzelli and Louise Bourgoin.


There are two French female directors who, in addition to appearing in Cannes-bound films, could bring their own recent directing efforts to the Croisette. One of these is Emmanuelle Bercot, who stars in Maiwenn’s “Mon roi,” and recently completed “La Tete haute” (Elle Driver); like Bercot’s “Clement” (2001), the new film should play in Un Certain Regard.


Another is Valerie Donzelli, who appears in “The White Knights” and could earn an official-selection for “Marguerite and Julien,” starring Jeremie Elkaim and adapted from a 1971 script almost made by Francois Truffaut.


Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert play parents reuniting after the death of their son in “Valley of Love” (Le Pacte), which could mark a Cannes debut for Guillaume Nicloux after his Berlin premieres “The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq” and “The Nun.”


The official selection could also see vet Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s “Belles familles,” starring Mathieu Amalric, Guillaume de Tonquedec, Nicole Garcia, Gilles Lellouche, Andre Dussollier, Karin Viard and Marine Vacth.


Barbet Schroeder’s “Amnesia,” a drama set against the techno-music scene on the Spanish island of Ibiza.