French auteur Claire Denis (born 1946) is considered one of the greatest and most important filmmakers living today. Denis is a very prolific creator, working in a variety of genres. Her films are recognized for profound humanism, a gentle and compassionate look at people, elliptical stories and bold images full of emotion and movement. Until the age of 12, Denis had grown up in Africa under French colonialism, and this experience had directly and indirectly shaped many of her films.
Denis started out as assistant director with Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Rivette. She burst onto the scene as a filmmaker with her debut film “Chocolat” (1988), which premiered In Competition at Cannes Film Festival and won critical acclaim. Since then, her films have regularly screened at major festivals. Among them: “Nénette et Boni” (1996), which won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival, “Beau travail” (1999), “Friday Night” (2002), “35 Shots of Rum” (2008), and “White Material” (2009) premiered at the Venice Film Festival; “Trouble Every Day” (2001) screened at Cannes Film Festival. Denis has a long-standing collaboration with Tindersticks, who composed the score for many of her films.
Frederick Elmes (born 1946) is a prominent American cinematographer who has lensed many celebrated and beloved independent American films. Elmes has a particularly extensive film career, during which he has worked with several prominent film directors.
He began his career alongside John Cassavetes (“The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” “Opening Night”), and David Lynch (“Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart,” among others). Elmes has shot many films with director Jim Jarmusch (including “Night on Earth,” “Coffee and Cigarettes,” “Broken Flowers,” “Paterson”), and Ang Lee (“The Ice Storm,” “Ride with the Devil”). Elmes won the Emmys Award for Best Cinematography for the limited series “The Night Of” (2016), and filmed the Emmy Award winning miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” (2014) and the film “Synecdoche, New York” (2008) directed by Charlie Kaufman. In 2020, Elmes won the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mélanie Laurent (born 1983) is an actress, director, screenwriter and environmental activist. Winner of two César Awards, Laurent has starred in more than 40 films, and her experience has shaped her approach to directing actors, screenwriting and cinematography.
She became world famous especially after portraying the unforgettable Shoshana Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). As an actress, Laurent has worked with leading and influential directors such as Mike Mills, Denis Villeneuve, and Angelina Jolie. Laurent has directed five highly-acclaimed feature films, including her debut film, “The Adopted” (2011), the critically acclaimed “Breathe” (2014), the documentary “Tomorrow” (2015) in which she dealt with environmental issues, and the American thriller “Galveston”(2018) which premiered at the SXSW Festival. Two new films directed by her are expected to be released in the coming year.
French screenwriter and director Céline Sciamma (born 1978) is one of the most unique filmmakers to break out in the last decade. Her gentle and sensitive explorations of youth, adolescence and sexuality, always become immersive and breathtaking experiences thanks to her creative brilliance and playful cinema.
She is best known to Israeli audiences for her masterpiece “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019), which awarded her the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival. After completing her M.A in French literature, Sciamma studied screenwriting. Her debut film “Water Lilies” (2007) was screened at Cannes Film Festival. “Tomboy” (2011) was screened at Berlin International Film Festival and won the Teddy Jury Award. “Girlhood” (2014) was screened at Cannes Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival. Her new film “Petite maman” (2021) competed at the recent Berlin International Film Festival.
Miguel Gomes (born 1972) is one of the top Portuguese directors working today. His films are characterized by a mesmerising visual style, an unconventional approach to a narrative, and a tendency to blend fiction with the social and political reality that surrounds him. He graduated from the Lisbon Theater and Film School and began his career as a film critic and researcher before moving on to filmmaking.
Among his films: “Our Beloved Month of August” (2008) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was the Portuguese representative for the Oscars. His film “Tabu” (2012) premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, and won the Silver Bear for a feature film that opens new perspectives, as well as the prestigious FIPRESCI prize. Gomes then surprised with no less than a trilogy, “Arabian Nights” (2015), which told contemporary stories about modern-day Portugal, and brought him back to the Cannes Film Festival. Two new films are expected to be released in the coming year, “Savagery” based on the Brazilian epic of Euclides da Cunha and the hybrid lockdown diary, “Tsugua Diaries”.
French director Bertrand Bonello (born 1968) takes his viewers into lavish, daring and meticulously planned worlds, each different from its predecessor and set in a different period. He creates sensuous and thought-provoking experiences that are elevated by his talent as a musician. Producing a fine balance between the real and the abstract, Bonello examines the social structures that surround his protagonists. He writes, directs and composes his unconventional films, many of which have become identified with the “New French Extremity”.
Among his films: “Something Organic” (1998) premiered at Berlin International Film Festival, “The Pornographer” (2001), “On the War” (2008) and his latest feature film “Zombie Child” (2019) premiered at Cannes Film Festival. Bonello returned to Cannes in Competition with “Tiresia” (2003), as well as “House of Tolerance” (2011) which was nominated for eight César Awards, and “Saint Laurent” (2014) which represented France in the Oscars and was nominated for 10 César Awards. His politically charged film “Nocturama” (2016) was screened at the Toronto Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival. He also directed a number of short films that screened at Cannes and at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival. Bonello is currently working on his next film, “La bête” starring Léa Seydoux.
Director Radu Jude (born 1977) has established himself as one of the most exceptional voices of Romanian cinema in particular and of world cinema in general. He is an extremely prolific director, whose works combine narrative, documentary, and experimental forms. His transgressive films deal with the dark sides of his homeland’s history, and how the past influences and is reflected in the present. This year, he won with his new film, “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” (2021) the Golden Bear at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.
His films are regularly screened at renowned international festivals. Berlin International Film Festival screened “The Happiest Girl in the World” (2009), “Everybody in Our Family” (2012) and “Aferim!” (2015) which won the Silver Bear and represented Romania at the Oscars. A year later, his film “Scarred Hearts” was awarded the Special Jury Prize and the Don Quixote Prize at Locarno Film Festival. His film “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” (2018) won Best Film award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and also represented Romania in the Oscars. Jude has also made short films and documentaries, including “The Dead Nation” (2017) and “The Exit of Trains” (2020), which have also won awards at the prestigious Cannes, Berlin, Sundance and Locarno film festivals.