Cannes 2018: Documentary Overview

The 71st annual Cannes Film Festival

May 8-19

The world’s most esteemed cinema event presents a dozen nonfiction features among its 60 offerings, while its autonomous sidebars, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, include but one documentary each.

WHITNEY | Image © Stefano Baroni

There are single nonfiction entries in both Competition – Jean-Luc Godard’s IMAGE BOOK, an essay film examining the modern Arab world – and Out of Competition – Kevin Macdonald’s WHITNEY, a biography of the late Whitney Houston – while none figures in Un Certain Regard.


More than half of the Special Screenings are documentaries, however: Wang Bing’s DEAD SOULS, about the survivors of Chinese re-education camps; Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte’s THE STATE AGAINST MANDELA AND THE OTHERS, which revisits the 1963-64 trial against enemies of the South African apartheid government; Michel Toesca’s TO THE FOUR WINDS (LIBRE), about a French farmer who has defied official policies to provide safe haven for migrants; Wim Wenders’ POPE FRANCIS – A MAN OF HIS WORD, which explores the Catholic leader and his work; and Romain Goupil’s ON THE ROAD IN FRANCE (LA TRAVERSÉE), which explores modern-day France 50 years after the tumult of May 1968.


Remaining docs in Cannes’ official selection are in the Cannes Classics section, new films about filmmaking rounding out the strand’s restorations and other retrospective programming. The former include two films on the late Ingmar Bergman on the occasion of his centenary, Margarethe von Trotta’s SEARCHING FOR INGMAR BERGMAN and Jane Magnusson’s BERGMAN – A YEAR IN A LIFE; as well as Mark Cousins’ THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES; Susan Lacy’s Sundance portrait, JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS; and Pamela B Green’s BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ, returning the spotlight to the sadly largely forgotten female filmmaking pioneer.


The sole nonfiction entry among the 20 features in Directors’ Fortnight is Stefano Savona’s SAMOUNI ROAD, about a Palestinian family preparing for a wedding; while the single doc of 10 in Critics’ Week
is Anja Kofmel’s CHRIS THE SWISS, in which the filmmaker investigates how her cousin, a Swiss journalist, lost his life during the Yugoslav Wars.


Leave a comment

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.