Cannes 2019: Documentary Overview

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival

May 14-25

As in the past, nonfiction takes a backseat at Cannes, with only 13 documentaries among the more than 60 features presented, and only one doc between both autonomous sidebars.


This year, there is not a single nonfiction offering in either the Competition or Un Certain Regard, and only one in the Out of Competition section: Asif Kapadia’s DIEGO MARADONA, on the famed soccer champion.





Documentaries rule the Special Screenings, with more than half of the small strand devoted to nonfiction: Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ SXSW-winning and Nantucket-bound FOR SAMA, in which al-Kateab documents five years living in Aleppo during the war; Patricio Guzman’s THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS, the continuation of the master documentarian’s exploration of Chile’s fraught history; Juan Solanas’ LET IT BE LAW, on the battle for legal abortions in Argentina; Leila Conners’ ICE ON FIRE, exploring solutions to climate change; Dan Krauss’ 5B, which looks back at the first hospital ward devoted to patients with AIDS; and Alain Cavalier’s hybrid LIVING AND KNOWING YOU ARE ALIVE, in which the filmmaker and writer Emmanuèle Bernheim collaborate on a film based on her autobiography.


The Cannes Classics strand includes the remaining docs, a typically eclectic assemblage of films about films and filmmaking: Helena Trestikova and Jakub Hejna’s FORMAN VS FORMAN, about Oscar-winning Czech director Milos Forman; Midge Costin’s MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND, on the history and craft of film sound; Enrico Cerasuolo’s THE PASSION OF ANNA MAGNANI, on the famed Italian neorealist actress; Pierre-William Glenn’s LES SILENCES DE JOHNNY, on French music icon Johnny Hallyday’s filmmaking; and Mario Sesti’s CINECITTÀ – I MESTIERI DEL CINEMA. BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI: NO END TRAVELLING, focused on the late Italian director.


As noted, nonfiction is even rarer among the autonomous Critics’ Week – none – and Directors’ Fortnight – just one: Lech Kowalski’s BLOW IT TO BITS, which captured the workers’ protest at a French factory that went on to spark protests across the country.

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

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