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From explicit sex scenes of women going for private and public orgasms to the animated violence of a crusader against porn, this year’s Director’s Fortnight pushed the envelope and sharpened the edge of cinema. Louise Keller reports.

With its promise to bring “individual talent and an original directorial style”, this year’s Director’s Fortnight selection (by Artistic Director Olivier Pére) offered a tantalising mix of films to cater for all palates. The selection of films was as diverse as the 2006 Cannes weather, in which film lovers and critics queued patiently in the sun, rain and wind. But the weather was never the main focus of conversation at either the (in)famous beach lunches or over melt-in-your mouth croissants and coffee, it was always about the films.

Along the Croisette, posters featuring the enigmatic gaze of the sideways smiling woman’s face in a man’s head used as this year’s logo beckoned from all angles. (The sketch is the work of illustrator, cartoonist, painter, writer and filmmaker, the late Roland Topor, who received the Special Jury Prize in 1973 for the animation feature Fantastic Planet based on his designs.) And the films in this 38th showcase founded in 1969 by the French Director’s Guild did indeed beckon, and for good reason.


There were 22 films from 19 countries including Australia, and several sparked controversy. Jean Claude- Brisseau’s Les Anges Exterminateurs (France) raised eyebrows, not only for its explicit female-female sex scenes, but for the real life court case involving the filmmaker and alleged sexual indiscretions. Beautifully photographed and voyeuristic, the film looks at a filmmaker who is screen testing actresses for his upcoming film in which he is exploring sexual taboos. There’s an unforgettable scene set in a restaurant in which one of the filmmaker’s protégées masturbates in full view of the waitress, before a second protégée discreetly removes her black underwear. But the film is strangely unerotic, and while it engages initially, eventually dissolves into pretentiousness.

There was a long queue for the 10.30pm screening of Ray Lawrence’s Jindabyne at the Cinema Les Arcades in rue Felix Faure. Lawrence presented the film, saying that this was in fact the first ‘real screening’ and made a point of explaining to the audience, how to properly pronounce its title. There was genuine applause at film’s end, although the ending did not satisfy many, myself included. Jindabyne tells the story of an Irish-born local (Gabriel Byrne), who together with his three mates, discovers the dead body of an Aboriginal woman floating in the river, while on a fishing trip. It is a visually evocative drama whose cinematic qualities are more satisfying than its emotional ones. It doesn’t matter that there are more questions than answers, but unlike Lawrence’s Lantana, the film frustrates by the oomphy climax that never arrives.

Princess, the animated opening film at this year’s Director Fortnight’s, from Denmark’s Anders Morgenthaler was much talked about, dividing audiences with its violent depictions. Storyline tells of a missionary priest’s decision to avenge the death of his porn film star sister; ‘..a high and mighty line on the sex industry, but reels in gory violence,’ writes Variety. Stefan Krohmer’s Summer 04 (Sommer 04 an Der Schlei) from Germany was well received, critics praising its subtlety in its portrayal of a 40 year old woman on holidays on the Baltic coast. William Friedkin’s Bug starring Ashley Judd was a high profile inclusion about a lonely waitress with a tragic past living in fear of her abusive paroled ex-husband, although the general consensus was that, while promising at first, the result is disappointing.

But Changement D’Adresse from French filmmaker Emmanuel Mouret is a real charmer about an awkward French horn player recently relocated to Paris, who falls in love with his young student. His female flatmate is not shy about anything except her budding relationship with a man who uses the photocopier at her shop. But things get complicated when the roommates gets up close and personal when they try to encourage each other in their love quests. The comedy of errors reaches its hilarious climax as fortunes change and love plays musical chairs. Ah yes, indeed. Love can change its form as readily as its participants can change addresses. Charming and funny, this is a sparkling feel-good film that simply dances. (It was acquired for Australia by Sharmill Films, for release later this year.)

The program this year also included A Fost sau n-a fost from Romania, Ca Brule from Switzerland, Congorama from Belgium, Day Night Day Night (US), The Hawk is Dying (US) starring Paul Giamatti, Michelle Williams and Michael Pitt, Fehér Tenyér from Hungary and The Host from Korea.

"to do justice to this potpourri of filmic diversity"

The trick of course, is to do justice to this potpourri of filmic diversity by managing schedules in order to be able to fit in as many screenings as possible. During the madness of Cannes, when there are so many films on display, you need to make tough decisions. You could easily simply pick up the Quinzaine des Realisateurs programme – spread across three venues - and be satisfied in just this one section.

Published June 8, 2006

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Les Anges Exterminateurs


Director's Fortnight Logo (Topor)



Changement D'Adresse

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