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Cannes Film Festival: A look at the next generation of film directors

Cannes Film Festival: A look at the next generation of film directors
Copyright REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Copyright REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
By Frédéric PonsardLauren Chadwick
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Euronews gives you a look at five breakout directors at the Cannes Film Festival.


There's no shortage of regulars at the Cannes Film Festival — the directors who have walked the red carpet in Southern France for careers spanning decades.

But the prestigious festival, which enters its 72nd season this year, has also paved the way for new talent.

Many world-renowned filmmakers were discovered in the seaside town for their first or second films. Cannes influenced the early careers of Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Xavier Dolan, and Lars Von Trier.

Euronews takes a look at five newcomers at this year's festival who might someday win the coveted Palme d'Or.

1. Ladj Ly (France)

39 years old

Les Misérables in Competition

Ladj Ly came from the world of short film and music videos but his work evokes Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 film La Haine and the films of Spike Lee. His storytelling is clear, while the film is dynamic.

Ly, a child of Malian immigrants, comes from a notoriously poor housing estate in the suburbs of Paris where riots broke out in 2005. He's worked to give a face to and provide opportunities for his community.

With the award-winning French artist JR, he created a collection of photographs featuring people in his community and has just opened a free film school inspired by his art collective group.

His feature film, Les Misérables, depicts the struggle of cops and youth in these downtrodden suburbs in a humanist and societal film that has similarities to the work of its namesake's author, Victor Hugo.

2. Kantemir Balagov (Russia)

28 years old

Beanpole, Official Selection, Un certain regard

The director, screenwriter, and editor Kantemir Balagov is one of the most promising directors of his generation. Born in 1991, he comes from a Russian generation disillusioned with what followed the end of the Soviet Union.

Two years ago, his first film Tesnota [Closeness] premiered at Cannes, also winning a film critic award.

His new film, Beanpole, is an ambitious post-war film that takes place in 1945 in a Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) destroyed after suffering one of the longest sieges in history. The film tells the story of two women rebuilding their lives after enduring physical and mental trauma.

3. Maryam Touzani (Morocco)

39 years old

Adam, Official Selection, Un certain regard

Touzani, a former journalist and now actress, screenwriter and director, comes from a generation of North African women who use film as a political weapon, never forgetting the militant aspect of what they are showing.


Morocco censured the film she made with her partner Nabil Ayouch about prostitution in 2015.

Adam is her first feature film — depicting a female friendship in the closed-off world of the Kasbah of Casablanca. The film follows a pregnant woman and a widow as they help each other in a patriarchial Moroccan society.

Touzani creates a renaissance film, strong and engaging that won't leave anyone indifferent.

4. Robert Eggers (United States)

35 years old

Lighthouse in Directors' Fortnight


First coming into his own in 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival, Eggers is known as one of the best in his generation. His first genre and best-known film, The Witch, made $40 million [€35.8 million] with a budget of just $4 million [€3.5 million].

His films have a psychological edge that elevates them from mere entertainment.

The Lighthouse is being touted as a "fantasy horror story set in the world of old sea-faring myths" by its US distributor. At the film's helm are Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who play lighthouse keepers on the coast of Maine.

It's being presented at the Directors' Fortnight, a breeding ground for filmmakers. The film, shot in 35mm and black and white, is sure to be intriguing.

5. Mati Diop (France, Senegal, Belgium)

36 years old


Atlantique in Competition

This Franco-Senegalese director is the daughter of the internationally-renowned musician Wasis Diop and the niece of Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety. Diop is the first black woman in competition for the Palme d'Or.

Her first feature film, Atlantique, takes on the same topic of emigration as her previous short film of a similar title.

The film is set in a suburb of Dakar where construction workers decide to leave Senegal for a better future. The young women they leave behind suffer mysterious fevers and a devastating fire.

The work shows the struggles of emigration in part through the eyes of those left behind.

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