For the first time, Israel will host the Directors’ Fortnight, a prestigious event that takes place every year at the Cannes Film Festival to showcase films by the world’s premier directors. This extraordinary collaboration takes place in two locations: in Paris, immediately at the end of the Festival, and in Geneva, several months later. The local event in Israel was initiated by the School of Audio and Visual Arts of the Sapir Academic College, and produced by Galit Kachlon and Olivia Toreno.
The idea to hold the Directors’ Fortnight in Israel was led by Shlomi Elkabetz, head of filmmaking program at the School of Audio and Visual Arts at Sapir Academic College, who stated, “Israel film has enjoyed international stature in recent years. Israel films are highly acclaimed and have won many prizes. I thought it was only natural for one of the Cannes Film Festival events to take place in Israel. Opening the program at the Sderot Cinematheque is a real celebration. The School of Audio and Visual Arts at Sapir Academic College, where I have been teaching for many years, and which is my natural habitat, has assumed responsibility for the initiative. I have no doubt that the audiences are in for a fascinating film experience throughout the month that the festival will be hosted here in Israel”.
The Directors’ Fortnight will be held in Israel between January 9 and January 26. “Fatima”, by French director Phillipe Faucon, will be the first film to be shown at the opening night of the festival at the Sderot Cinematheque, in the presence of the director. Also at the opening event, actor-director Ronit Elkabetz will introduce the entire program. “Fatima” is the story of a woman who lives with her two adolescent daughters and works as a cleaning woman in hope of giving them a better future, She is not fluent in French, and communications are not this family’s strong point. One day, Fatima falls down a flight of stairs. Housebound, she begins to write to her daughters in Arabic and reveals everything that she has been unable to say to them in French.
Following Sderot, the Directors’ Fortnight will take place at Cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Holon, and Herzliya. Also appearing as guests at the event will be Anne Delseth, member of the Selection Committee, Quinzaine desRéalisateurs, Cannes Film Festival; producer Dominique Volenski; and Janja Kralj and Šarūnas Bartas, producer and director of “Peace to Us in Our Dreams.” Their film focuses on the evolving relations between a father, his daughter, and the woman who has been the father’s companion since his wife’s death.
One of the outcomes of the May 1968 student protests in France was the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. In the 1970s, the Directors’ Fortnight became established as an avant-garde category that serviced as a quasi-laboratory for the films of the future. Many directors who presented their first or second film at the Directors’ Fortnight later participated in the official competition and went on to become leading figures in the world’s film industry, including Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Ken Loach, Michael Haneke, Chantal Akerman, Spike Lee, the Dardenne brothers, and others. The Directors’ Fortnight is a non-competitive section of the Cannes Film Festival, showcasing 20 new films from all over the world as well as a series of short films. Over the years, the Directors’ Fortnight has shown many Israeli films, helping them gain the attention of the global film industry. In 2009, the Directors’ Fortnight showcased “Ajami” by Sandar Copti and Yaron Shani. In 2013, “Les Congres,” a film by Ari Folman, was selected as the opening film of the Fortnight, and in 2014, for the first time, the Directors’ Fortnight included two Israeli films: “Gett, le procès de Viviane Amsalem” by sister and brother Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, and “Next to Her” by Asaf Korman.
Edouard Waintrop, former long-time film critic of Liberation, has served as the artistic director of the Directors’ Fortnight since 2011.