Cannes 2017: Documentary Overview

The 70th anniversary Cannes Film Festival

May 11-20

Nearly 100 features screen within the prestigious official festival and its two autonomous sidebars, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, though documentaries remain underrepresented, numbering fewer than 20.

While nonfiction is absent from the Competition and Un Certain Regard, a single doc screens in the Out of Competition section: Agnès VARDA and JR’s FACES PLACES (VISAGES VILLAGES), which follows the auteur and the celebrated large-scale photographer as they collaborate on a project in rural France.

In contrast, more than half of the fifteen features in the Special Screenings section are documentaries, including Vanessa Redgrave’s hybrid on the refugee crisis, SEA SORROW; Eugene Jarecki’s Elvis-inspired road trip through a politically-divided America, PROMISED LAND; Barbet Schroeder’s portrait of a Buddhist monk who has been linked to Islamophobia in Burma, THE VENERABLE W; Claude Lanzmann’s clandestine revisitation of North Korea, NAPALM (pictured); and Raymond Depardon’s look at psychiatric patients’ legal hearings, 12 DAYS.

Additionally, the Cannes Classics section is divided between restored retrospective work and new docs about films and filmmaking, such as Mark Kidel’s BECOMING CARY GRANT (pictured), the story of the Hollywood star and his experimentation with LSD; and Tony Zierra’s FILMWORKER, a portrait of Leon Vitali, actor-turned-personal assistant to Stanley Kubrick.

Three nonfiction projects appear in Directors’ Fortnight: Amos Gitai’s WEST OF THE JORDAN RIVER (FIELD DIARY REVISITED), which finds the noted filmmaker return to the Occupied Territories to observe civilian efforts to reckon with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; Sonia Kronlund’s NOTHINGWOOD (pictured), a profile of the most prolific filmmaker in Afghanistan; and Abel Ferrara’s ALIVE IN FRANCE, a self-portrait and career retrospective focused on the music in the director’s body of work; while Critics’ Week offers but one: Emmanuel Gras’ MAKALA, a look at the life of a young Congolese peasant.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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