Founded in 1969 by the SRF (Société des réalisatrices et réalisateurs de films), the Directors’ Fortnight was born when a community of directors came together with the desire to create an independent space that would encourage the emergence of free filmmaking regardless of geographical provenance or any other limiting criteria. At the heart of the creation of the Directors’ Fortnight was the singular quality of a work of art and the impossibility of pigeonholing it.
The Fortnight distinguishes itself from other selections at Cannes with its spirit of non-competition, and the fact it is open to the public. More than ever, the new Directors’ Fortnight is infused with this spirit.
Over the course of the selection, the committee watched nearly 4,000 films. We travelled to over 20 countries to meet filmmakers and professionals from every continent.
Our choices were driven by a sole principle: the search for singular filmmaking. An emphasis on singularity means considering films beyond categories and genres. Above all it is about looking beyond the tired and reductive distinction between fiction and documentary and embracing hybrid forms. Furthermore, promoting the singular quality of a film means refusing quantitative guidelines, whether these relate to nationality, gender or genre. By definition, creativity is about freedom in invention, which necessarily transcends such determining factors. We strove to consider films as films and not for what they might represent. Lastly, short films will be celebrated with three programmes instead of two.
The rules for entry to the Fortnight have changed: with an emphasis on the big screen experience, any film is eligible as long as those behind it commit to a cinema release in France, instead of going straight to a streaming platform or the television. This is our way of supporting the work of distributors and exhibitors, and it speaks to a wish for film lovers to continue to discover films together in cinemas.
We have worked tirelessly to pave the way for new filmmaking. Avoiding the pitfalls of formulaic films, this year’s selection includes six first features and six second features. Many of the films come from young directors and producers and were discovered without distributors or sales agents. We have also decided not to prioritise films – including several strong propositions– which were serious candidates for the official competition, as our priority lies with emerging directors. The 2023 Fortnight will nonetheless include several films by seasoned directors, but these are very personal and singular ones.
This year we are witnessing the powerful comeback of Asian and North American filmmaking. We also have several compelling proposals from the African continent. The fantastical as narrative motor has also returned with renewed strength, alongside an emphasis on the “tale”, be it invented or reworked. A sense of unease between genders is one of the main strands of contemporary production: confused and unstable masculinities, women’s empowerment, patriarchy in crisis... We are also witnessing a renewed interest in religion among the issues tackled on film. We didn’t set out to select genre films specifically, but the 2023 selection includes fantasy, adventure, comedy, crime, road-movie, coming-of-age, queer cinema etc.
It must be admitted that some continents and territories are unevenly represented in this year’s selection. We would have liked filmmaking from several locations with lively production to be present here too. On the other hand, the work of selection and the reinforcement of the Fortnight’s identity cannot be built in a year but over time. Starting this year, we also worked with a desire to narrow down the number of selected films. The reason for this was simple: fewer films means greater exposure for each film.
The art of mise-en-scène is at the core of the selection process we have initiated. We have chosen to present 30 films to you which, through their own unique language, embody a spirit of resistance to any form of ideology and to dominant narratives.