March 1, 2021

50 European films to tempt festival directors in 2021 | Features


Euro fest bait

In a year when festivals will hope for the return of audiences, industry and some sense of normalcy, Screen rounds up key contenders vying for the attention of programmers from France, Benelux, Nordics, Italy, Germany, Spain, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia. (*denotes film previously appeared in Screen’s 2020 list)

Annette (Fr-Bel-Ger) *

Dir. Leos Carax
Carax’s long-awaited Los Angeles-set musical comedy co-stars Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver as an opera singer and a stand-up comedian, who are parents to a baby girl with a special gift. It is based on a screenplay by fraternal pop and rock duo Ron and Russell Mael, founding frontmen of cult band Sparks. Hopes are high that Carax’s first feature in nine years will premiere at Cannes. The director was last at the festival in competition with Holy Motors in 2012. Amazon Studios has US rights. Contact: Kinology

Another World (Fr) *

Dir. Stephane Brizé
After social dramas At War and The Measure Of A Man, Brizé explores the world of corporate work. Vincent Lindon plays a workaholic executive, opposite Sandrine Kiberlain as his long-suffering wife, brought to breaking point by the demands of his job. At War and The Measure Of A Man both premiered in competition in Cannes but Brizé has also enjoyed debuts at Venice (A Woman’s Life) and Locarno (A Few Hours Of Spring). Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Any Day Now (Fin) *

Dir. Hamy Ramezan
The feature debut of Finnish-Iranian filmmaker Ramezan is a drama about a 13-year-old boy in a Finnish village whose world is turned upside down when his family is turned down for asylum. The film – previously titled Oasis of Now – won the Screen International Best Pitch Award at Tallinn 2018 and best project at the 2019 Finnish Film Affair. The cast includes Asghar Farhadi regular Shahab Hosseini. The film was held back during 2020. Contact: New Europe Film Sales

Between Two Worlds *

Dir. Emmanuel Carrère
Juliette Binoche stars as an author who goes undercover as a cleaning lady in a northern French port to research a book on job insecurity and social precariousness. It is the second fiction feature for screenwriter Carrère after The Moustache, which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in 2005. The film is based on French journalist Florence Aubenas’s bestselling non-fiction work Le Quai de Ouistreham, investigating rising precarity in French society through her experiences in the northern port city of Caen. Contact: France TV Distribution

Benedetta (Fr-Neth) *

Dir. Paul Verhoeven
Verhoeven’s 17th feature first appeared on Screen International’s festival bait list in 2019 but a hip operation for the director in late 2018, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic just as post-production was completed, delayed its launch. This second French-language feature for the director — after comeback film  Elle — reunites the director with French-Belgian actress Virginie Efira in the role of a controversial 17th Century Italian nun. It is adapted from Judith C. Brown’s academic work Immodest Acts: The Life Of A Lesbian Nun In Renaissance Italy. Contact: Pathé International

Bergman Island (Fr-Swe) *

Dir. Mia Hansen-Love
Set against the backdrop of Ingmar Bergman’s long-time home of the Swedish island of Faro, Hansen-Love’s English-language debut revolves around a married screenwriting duo who travel there to play homage to the legendary filmmaker. Their plan to complete a screenplay falls apart as fact and fiction blur. The cast features Tim Roth, Vicky Krieps, Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie. Contact: Kinology

Compartment No 6 (Fin-Rus-Est-Ger)

Dir. Juho Kuosmanen
Finnish filmmaker Kuosmanen finished shooting his Trans-Siberian railway-set drama in mid-March 2020, just days before the first lockdown. Kuosmanen’s second feature — after The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Mäki, which won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard award in 2016 — is about a young Finnish woman (Seidi Haarla) and a misanthropic Russian miner (Yuriy Borisov) who share a train journey across the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Contact: Totem Films

Convenience Store (Rus)

Convenience Store

Dir. Michael Borodin
Borodin was in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2018 with his short film Normal. This debut feature, supported by Eurimages and Kinoprime, explores modern-day slavery in Russia and is based on a real incident, which took place in the Moscow suburbs eight years ago. Contact: Metra Films

Dealer (Bel)

Dir. Jeroen Perceval
Perceval, best known for his performances in Bullhead, Borgman and The Ardennes, makes his feature-directing debut with this drama about a drug-dealing teenage tearaway who forms an unlikely bond with a successful actor, played by Ben Segers. Veerle Baetens plays the boy’s mother. Bart Van Langendonck at Savage Film produces. Contact: Savage Film

Deception

Deception (Fr)

Dir. Arnaud Desplechin
Adapted from Philip Roth’s 1980 novel of the same name, Desplechin’s latest film stars Denis Podalydès as a writer whose life is captured through his snatched conversations with the women in his past and present, played by Léa Seydoux, Emmanuelle Devos and Anouk Grinberg. The film is produced by Why Not Productions. Nearly all of Desplechin’s pictures have premiered in Cannes’ official selection, most recently Oh Mercy!, which debuted in Competition in 2019. Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Eiffel (Fr)

Dir. Martin Bourboulon
Emma Mackey and Roman Duris co-star in this lavish $26m period drama revolving around the secret passion of celebrated engineer Gustave Eiffel for a mysterious woman called Adrienne, who inspired the design for his world-famous tower. It is the third feature for Bourboulon following comedy dramas Daddy Or Mommy (2015) and Divorce French Style (2016). Vanessa van Zuylen, who operates under the banners of VVZ Production and L’Insensé Films, produces. Contact: Pathé International

Earwig (Fr-UK-Bel)

Dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Hadzihalilovic makes her English-language debut with this adaptation of UK writer and performance artist Brian Catling’s 2019 novel. Paul Hilton plays a man employed to care for a young girl living alone in a large apartment in the Belgian city of Liege. His main duty is to attend to her dentures, made from ice, which need changing several times a day. Backed by Film4 and the BFI, the film is a joint production between Jean des Forêts at Paris-based Petit Film and UK producer Andy Starke under his Anti-Worlds banner. It is Hadzihalilovic’s third feature after Evolution and Innocence. Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Everything Will Change (Ger-Neth)

Dir. Marten Persiel
Best known internationally for 2012 documentary This Ain’t California, Persiel makes his narrative feature debut with this timely drama about three teenagers who travel back in time from the dystopian world of 2054 to 2020 — a time when the planet was untouched by the impending ecological drama.
Contact: Flare Film

Fabian (Ger)

Dir. Dominik Graf
Graf’s first feature in five years is adapted from the 1931 satirical novel by German writer Erich Kästner, best known internationally as the author of the 1929 children’s book Emil And The Detectives. Set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, Tom Schilling (Never Look Away) plays the titular advertising copywriter as he navigates a world teetering on a political, economic and moral abyss. Graf’s last A-list festival outing was with costume drama Beloved Sisters, which played in Competition at the Berlinale in 2014. Contact: Lupa Films

Fire (Fr)

Dir. Claire Denis
Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon co-star alongside Grégoire Colin in this love-triangle drama about a woman caught between two men. Denis completed the screenplay with Christine Angot after the shoot of her 1980s Nicaragua-set romantic drama, The Stars At Noon starring Robert Pattinson and Margaret Qualley, was put on hold due to the pandemic. Denis and Angot previously collaborated on romantic comedy Let The Sunshine In, which also starred Binoche. Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Fools (Pol)

Dir. Tomasz Wasilewski
Wasilewski won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2016 with United States Of Love, following the love lives of four Polish women against the backdrop of the break-up of the Soviet Union. His new drama revolves around the fraught relationship between a mother and her son, played by Dorota Kolak and Lukasz Simlat. The project brings together two leading Eastern European producers: Poland’s Ewa Puszczynska (Cold War) and Romania’s Ada Solomon. Contact: New Europe Film Sales

France (Fr-Ger-Bel)*

Dir. Bruno Dumont
Previously announced as On A Half Clear Morning, Dumont’s 11th feature stars Léa Seydoux as a celebrity journalist who falls out of love with fame after a freak car accident. Dumont has debuted six features in Cannes’ official selection across his 20-year career, including most recently Jeanne, which premiered in Un Certain Regard last May. Long-time collaborators Jean Bréhat, Rachid Bouchareb and Muriel Merlin at 3B Productions are producing with RedBallon and Scope on board as co-producers. Contact: Indie Sales

Gerda (Rus)

Dir. Natalya Kudryashova
Filmmaker Kudryashova won best actress in Venice’s Horizon’s sidebar in 2018 for her performance in Aleksey Chupov and Natasha Merkulova’s Siberia-set The Man Who Surprised Everyone. Back in the director’s chair, Kudryashova’s third feature is a magical realist story about a troubled student who is visited by a spirit in her dreams – and then in her waking life. Contact: Russian Resurrection

The grandson

The Grandson (Hun)

Dir. Kristóf Deák
Hungarian director Deák, who won an Oscar for short film Sing in 2017, makes his feature debut with this darkly comic crime thriller about a quiet twentysomething office manager who goes after the petty criminals who scammed his grandfather in a telephone fraud. Contact: National Film Institute – Hungary

The Hand Of God (It-US)

Dir. Paolo Sorrentino
The title of Oscar winner Sorrentino’s upcoming Naples-set film may be a reference to late Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona and his controversial 1986 World Cup goal England, but the feature is not about the player or sport. Sorrentino is instead promising a more personal story for his first feature set in his home city of Naples since 2001 debut feature One Man Up. Sorrentino produces with Lorenzo Mieli at Fremantle-owned production company The Apartment Pictures for Netflix. Contact: Netflix

Incredible But True (Fr)

Dir. Quentin Dupieux
Following hot on the heels of Venice hit Mandibles, Dupieux’s latest feature reunites him with French actor Alain Chabat — who starred in the director’s 2014 comedy Reality — and co-stars Léa Drucker, Benoit Magimel and Anaïs Demoustier. The story revolves around a couple living in a quiet suburb whose lives are upended by a mysterious tunnel in the basement of their new home. The film shot last autumn and is in post-production. Contact: Gregory Chambet, WTFilms, Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Inexorable (Bel)

Dir. Fabrice du Welz
Du Welz reunites with actor Benoît Poelvoorde in this thriller about a novelist desperately seeking inspiration for his next bestseller whose life is thrown off balance by a mysterious younger woman. The filmmaker’s previous film, Adoration, marked the final work in his Ardennes trilogy and premiered at Locarno in 2019. The first work in the trilogy, Calvaire, debuted in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2004, while the second, Alleluia, premiered in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2014. Contact: Playtime

The Innocents (Nor) *

Dir. Eskil Vogt
Vogt, director of 2014’s Blind and Joachim Trier’s frequent writing partner, directs this supernatural thriller about the world of children. Four youngesters, aged 6 to 12, see their innocent play turn into something else when creepy things start happening. Contact: Protagonist Pictures

The King Of The Whole World (Sp-Mex)

Dir. Carlos Saura
Having focused mainly on music-themed documentaries for the last 15 years, Saura returns to the music and dance-based drama that won him awards and acclaim earlier in his career, such as 1985 Bafta winner Carmen. English National Ballet lead principal Isaac Hernandez stars opposite National Ballet of Mexico soloist Greta Elizondo as two dancers who fall in love when they are cast as co-leads on a major production. The film is lead produced by Eusebio Pacha at Madrid-based Pipa Films. Contact: Latido Films

Lamb (Ice) *

Dir. Valdimar Jóhannsson
This supernatural drama stars Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason 
as an Icelandic couple who adopt a new-born child that is half-human, half-sheep. First-time feature director Valdimar Jóhannsson 
co-wrote the script with acclaimed Icelandic author and poet Sjón, who has also worked with Robert Eggers on The Northman. Post-production was completed in late 2020. Contact: New Europe Film Sales

Leave No Traces (Pol-Fr-Cze)

Dir. Jan P Matuszynski
This political thriller is based on a true story about a young student beaten to death by the police in 1980s Communist Poland. A co-production between Poland, France and the Czech Republic, Leave No Traces is directed by Matuszynski, whose debut feature The Last Family accrued a number of international festival prizes in 2016 and 2017, including at Locarno and Antalya. Contact: New Europe Film Sales

Love In A Bottle (Neth)

Dir. Paula van der Oest
This virtual lockdown romance from veteran Dutch filmmaker van der Oest (whose Zus & Zo was Oscar nominated in 2003) stars UK actor James Krishna Floyd and Dutch actress Hannah Hoekstra as a man and a woman who meet in an airport on the eve of the pandemic and then continue their relationship on FaceTime. It was shot over the summer in two separate locations simultaneously, using stripped down crews that were mainly made up of film students. Contact: Levitate Film

Mali Twist (Fr)

MALI TWIST - mk2 films

Dir. Robert Guédiguian
Shot on location in Senegal last year, Guédiguian’s 20th feature marks a rare foray for the filmmaker away from his home city of Marseille and the surrounding region, which have provided the locations of most of his filmography including recent titles Gloria Mundi and The House By The Sea, both of which debuted in Venice. Set against the backdrop of the febrile atmosphere of post-Colonial Mali in the 1960s, French actors Stéphane Bak and Alicia Da Luz Gomes co-star as a young socialist and a spirited young woman, who wants to escape her arranged marriage, whose paths collide. Contact: mk2 Films

Margrete — Queen Of The North (Den-Swe-Nor-Cze-Ice)

Dir. Charlotte Sieling

Sieling (BorgenHomelandThe Man) directs this period drama set in 1402 and is an ambitious $12m pan-Scandinavian production from SF Studios. Queen Margrete (Trine Dyrholm) has gathered the Nordic kingdoms in a union, but a conspiracy threatens to tear her world apart. The cast also includes Soren Malling, Bjorn Floberg and Magnus Krepper. Despite pandemic-related delays, the film finished shooting in early summer of last year. Contact: Reinvent Studios

Moneyboys (Aus-Fr-Bel) *

Dir. C.B. Yi
Taiwanese star Kai Ko plays a Chinese youngster who works as a rent boy – or money-boy – to support his family, opposite Zhexi Lin as an experienced hustler who takes him under his wing. It is the debut feature of Chinese-Austrian director C.B. Yi who studied at the Vienna Academy under the guidance of Michael Haneke. The Mandarin-language drama is set in China but was shot in Taiwan due to its taboo LGBTQIA+ storyline. Contact: Totem Films

Moon, 66 Questions (Gr)

Dir. Jacqueline Lentzou
Lentzou won best short film with Hector Malt: The Last Day Of The Year in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2018. Previously announced as Selene, 66 Questions, her debut feature stars rising Greek actress Sofia Kokkali (Thread, Little England) who plays a woman that returns home to Greece – after living in France for several years – to care for her sick father. When she discovers his long-term secret love story, it gives their father-daughter relationship a fresh start. Contact: Luxbox

Nobody Has To Know (UK-Bel-Fr) *

Dirs. Bouli Lanners, Tim Mielants

Previously announced under the title Wise Blood, prolific actor-director Lanners joins forces with Mielants, who created a stir in 2019 with debut feature Patrick. Set in a strict religious community in the Scottish Western Isles of the Outer Hebrides, the drama deals with love, illness and false memory. Lanners co-stars with Michelle Fairley, best known for playing Catelyn Stark in HBO series Game Of ThronesContact: Playtime

No Looking Back (Rus)

Dir. Kirill Sokolov

Physicist-turned-filmmaker Sokolov’s debut feature, dark comedy Why Don’t You Just Die!, toured some 40 festivals and won good reviews worldwide. Russian star Anna Mikhalkov features in the cast of his second feature about three strong Russian women fighting for each other and their family. Contact: Metra Films

Other People

Other People (Pol)

Dir. Aleksandra Terpinska
Adapted from a bestselling novel by Dorota Maslowska, Other People marks the feature debut of Terpinska, who won the Canal+ prize at Cannes Critics’ Week in 2017 with her short The Best Fireworks Ever. The film follows an unlikely romance between a bored, middle-class housewife and an impoverished rapper. Sweat breakout Magdalena Kolesnik stars. Contact: New Europe Film Sales

Parallel Mothers (Sp)

Dir. Pedro Almodovar
If Almodovar is able to shoot his latest exploration of motherhood in early 2021 as planned, the feature could be ready in time for an autumn festival splash. Following two mothers who give birth on the same day, the Madrid-set story reunites the director with Penelope Cruz. Agustin Almodovar and Esther Garcia are producing through El Deseo. Contact: FilmNation Entertainment

Paris, 13th District (Fr)

Dir. Jacques Audiard
Adapted from The New Yorker cartoonist Adrian Tomine’s collection of graphic short stories Killing And Dying, this feature revolves around the intertwined lives of four young Parisians. Audiard co-wrote the adaptation with Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius, and shot the film last autumn. He has debuted most of his films at Cannes, including Palme d’Or winner Dheepan and grand jury prize winner A Prophet, but switched his allegiance to Venice for 2018 English-language western The Sisters Brothers. Contact: Playtime

Petite Maman (Fr)

Dir. Céline Sciamma
Sciamma made the most of France’s Covid-19 spring lockdown to write the screenplay for her fifth feature, which she then shot in the autumn. Few details are known about the storyline, although French press have reported that it revolves around a pair of eight-year-olds. Sciamma’s longtime collaborator Bénédicte Couvreur at Lilies Films produces, and the project also reunites her with cinematographer Claire Mathon, who won a string of awards for Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. Contact: mk2 Films

Petrov’s Flu (Rus-Fr-Sw) *

Dir. Kirill Serebrennikov

Feted theatre and film director Serebrennikov missed out on the Cannes premiere of his feature Leto in 2018 because he was under house arrest in Moscow. This eighth feature is a quirky, surrealistic drama about members of an ordinary family from the Russian city of Yekaterinburg who turn out to have secret sides to their lives. It is a co-production between Serebrennikov’s long-time producer Ilya Stewart at Moscow-based Hype Film, France’s Logical Pictures and Charades, Berlin-based Razor Film and Swiss company Bord Cadre. Contact: Charades

Qui Rido Io (It-Sp)

Dir. Mario Martone

Toni Servillo plays 19th-century actor and playwright Eduardo Scarpetta, a key figure in the Neapolitan theatre scene from the 1870s into the early 20th century. Co-produced by Rome-based Indigo Film and Madrid-based Tornasol Films, the film shot over summer 2020 and is now in post-production. Most of Martone’s pictures have made their bow at Venice. Contact: Indigo Film

Restless (Be-Fr-Lux)

Dir. Joachim Lafosse
Leiïa Bekhti and Damien Bonnard star as a couple, who share a child together and whose life together is impacted by bipolarism. It marks Belgian director Lafosse’s ninth feature. Lafosse’s last feature, Keep Going, played in Venice Days in 2018. Prior to that, his 2016 The White Knights debuted in Toronto’s Platform line-up and his 2012 family drama Our Children premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Contact: Luxbox

A Radiant Girl (Fr)

A Radiant Girl

Dir. Sandrine Kiberlain
Popular French actress Kiberlain makes her feature-directing debut with this drama about an aspiring French-Jewish actress living in Paris in 1942, during the early days of the Nazi occupation. Rebecca Marder leads a buzzy cast that also includes Ben Attal, India Hair, André Marcon, Anthony Bajon and Florence Viala. Kiberlain also wrote the screenplay. Olivier Delbosc produces under the banner of Paris-based Curiosa Films. Ad Vitam Distribution has taken French rights for a 2021 release. Contact: France tv distribution

Reply To A Letter From Helga (Ice-Neth-Est)

Dir. Asa Helga Hjörleifsdottir
After 2017 debut The Swan, Hjörleifsdottir takes on another beloved Icelandic book for her second feature. In a remote fjord in 1940s Iceland, a young farmer (played by The Swan star Thor Kristjansson) embarks on a forbidden affair with an aspiring poet (Hera Hilmar). The project reunites Hjörleifsdottir with The Swan producer Birgitta Björnsdottir, who produces with Skuli Fr Malmquist. Contact: Birgitta Björnsdottir, Vintage Pictures

Rookie (Bel)

Dir. Lieven Van Baelen
Czar Films’ Eurydice Gysel and Koen Mortier are the producers of this moody debut feature set in the world of motorcycle racing and co-starring Veerle Baetens (Code 37, The Broken Circle Breakdown) and Matteo Simoni (Thieves Of The Wood, The Racer). When a racer is forced to abandon his own dreams, he pins his hopes on his nephew instead. Contact: Charlotte Henskens, DFW International 

Splendid Isolation (Neth)

Dir. Urszula Antoniak
Anneke Sluiters and Khadija El Kharraz Alami star as lovers living together on a remote island but who are forced to remain physically apart after one of them contracts a virus. Their isolation is disrupted by the arrival of a third person who has immunity and as a result can come into direct contact with both of them. Antoniak’s last feature, Beyond Words, debuted in competition at San Sebastian in 2017. The film shot in autumn last year for an expected 2021 delivery. Contact:  Family Affair Films

The Story Of My Wife (Hu)

Dir. Ildiko Enyedi
Dutch actor Gijs Naber co-stars opposite French stars Léa Seydoux and Louis Garrel in this tale of love, jealousy and self-deception, adapted from late Hungarian poet-novelist Marin Fust’s eponymous 1942 literary classic. Naber plays a Dutch sea captain who is obsessed with the idea that his flirtatious French wife has been unfaithful to him. Garrel is a mysterious figure called Dedin, who may or not be the young woman’s lover. Enyedi’s previous film, On Body and Soul, won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear in 2017 and was subsequently nominated in the Oscar foreign-language category (since rebranded best international feature film) in 2018.Contact: Films Boutique

Titane (Fr)

Dir. Julia Ducournau
Ducournau’s debut feature Raw took Cannes Critics’ Week by storm in 2016 and expectations are running high for her second feature, starring Vincent Lindon. The script and subject remain confidential but the film is rumoured to revolve around a mysterious teenager, whose return home after years of being missing coincides with a series of gruesome murders. Contact: Antoine Guilhem, Wild Bunch International

Tout S’Est Bien Passé (Fr)

Dir. François Ozon
Sophie Marceau plays a writer who helps her father end his life after he is incapacitated by a stroke. André Dussollier also stars. The production is adapted from a novel by late French novelist and screenwriter Emmanuele Bernheim, who collaborated with Ozon on his screenplays for Under The Sand, Swimming Pool and 5×2. Contact: Mandarin Production

Triangle Of Sadness (Swe-Gr-Fr-Ger-Den-US-UK)

Dir. Ruben Östlund
Following his Palme d’Or win for The Square in 2017, all eyes are on Swedish filmmaker Östlund’s English-language debut. The dark comedy follows a model couple on a yacht with the super-rich, but the group dynamics shift when they are marooned on a deserted island. The cast includes Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean. Despite Covid‑19 challenges and delays during production, the film finished its shoot in autumn 2020 and could be ready in time for Cannes. Contact: Coproduction Office

Viens Je T’Emmène (Fr)

Dir. Alain Guiraudie
Guiraudie’s sixth feature unfolds in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand in the aftermath of a terror attack on the eve of Christmas. Jean-Charles Clichet co-stars as young man who embarks on a relationship with an older prostitute played by Noémie Lvovsky against the backdrop of the heightened tensions. Guiraudie’s last film, Staying Vertical, played in competition at Cannes, while Stranger By The Lake made waves in Un Certain Regard in 2013. Contact: Les Films du Losange

Wicked Games (Aus)

Dir. Ulrich Seidl
Georg Friedrich and Michael Thomas play estranged brothers who briefly reunite at their mother’s funeral in Austria and then return to their respective lives in Romania and Italy, but they cannot leave their shared past behind. Seidl co-wrote the screenplay with his filmmaker wife Veronika Franz. Contact: Coproduction Office 



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