Way back in January 2019, days before Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir premiered at Sundance, where it won a grand jury prize, A24 picked up the rights to The Souvenir Part II. Today, Directors’ Fortnight delegate general Paolo Moretti and his programming team announced that a special screening of The Souvenir, the story of a young filmmaker in 1980s London, and the world premiere of Part II will be part of the lineup for the fifty-third edition running parallel to the Cannes Film Festival from July 7 through 17.
Outside of a cameo in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love (2009), Honor Swinton Byrne, the daughter of Tilda Swinton and playwright John Byrne, had never appeared in a film when Hogg cast her in The Souvenir as Julie, an artist in search of her voice. Julie strikes up an ill-defined relationship with Anthony (Tom Burke), an endearingly smug older man who turns out to be a heroin addict. As A. O. Scott pointed out in the New York Times, the plot—stripped of Hogg’s assured compositions and the striking performances by Byrne, Burke, Tilda Swinton as Julie’s mother, and a small but crucial turn from Richard Ayoade—may seem “absorbing but also conventional: another chronicle of addiction and codependency, another cautionary fable of a smart woman making a foolish choice, another period drama celebrating a wilder time. It sort of is all of that, but it is also emphatically not that at all.”
In November 2019, Hogg told Rory O’Connor at the Film Stage that she was already editing Part II, whose story takes off immediately where the first film left off and through “almost to the end of the ’80s. And it’s focusing very much on Julie again.” She’s still at film school, and Part II is very much about “how her life experience is fused with her creativity.” Robert Pattinson was to set to take a leading role, but when he had to back out due to scheduling conflicts, Hogg split his character in two and cast Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).
Another highlight in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight lineup is Ali & Ava, a love story from another outstanding British director, Clio Barnard (The Arbor,The Selfish Giant). Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions) and Claire Rushbrook (Secrets & Lies) star as a landlord and a teacher brought together by a young girl. Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea,A Ciambra) will bring A Chiara, the story of a teenager investigating the disappearance of her father. Întregalde, the seventh feature from Radu Muntean (The Paper Will Be Blue;Tuesday, After Christmas), promises to be a suspenseful tale tracking three humanitarians journeying through Romania’s Apuseni Mountains.
Films by multiple directors are scattered throughout the lineup. Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro), Pietro Marcello (Martin Eden), and Francesco Munzi (Black Souls) have teamed up on Futura, a documentary about how young Italians see the future. Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights) and French documentarian Maureen Fazendeiro collaborated on Tsugua Diaries, which was shot on 16 mm. They describe their project as “a lockdown journal” but “also a fiction.” Lois Patiño (Red Moon Tide) and Matías Piñeiro (Isabella) have made a short film together, Sycorax, which is based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and they’re already working on a feature, Ariel. Another highlight from the shorts program is Peter Tscherkassky’s Train Again, an homage to fellow Austrian filmmaker Kurt Kren that Stefan Grissemann describes as “a phantom ride through the engine room of the seventh art, a ceremony of the (violent) mechanics of railway vehicles and image transporters.”
This year’s edition will open with Emmanuel Carrère’s Between Two Worlds, starring Juliette Binoche as a writer who takes a job as a cleaning lady while she researches her next book. When the coworkers she’s befriended find out who she really is, things do not go smoothly. Rachel Lang’s Our Men, which centers on the friendship between two military wives in Corsica, will close out the festival.
We should mention that the French Association for the Distribution of Independent Film (ACID) also unveiled a lineup this morning. The twenty-ninth edition, running parallel to Cannes, Critics’ Week, and the Directors’ Fortnight, will present five works of fiction and four documentaries, all of them currently seeking distribution. Among the filmmakers who have in the past presented their first works in the ACID showcase are Serge Bozon, Ursula Meier, Avi Mograbi, Yolande Moreau, Nicholás Pereda, and Claire Simon.
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