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Women Directors at Cannes Shine Out of Competition

Sofia Coppola

Although the main competition at Cannes features only one film by a woman director, the section Un Certain Regard is loaded with them, so their presence is being felt.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (yes, she is the sister of Carla Bruni, former First Lady of France) has moved easily between Italian and French films as an actress and in her competition film A Castle in Italy, she moves between the two locations in a story of lives ending and new beginnings. Bruni Tedeschi directs but also plays Louise, whose wealthy family is coping with changing times. She meets Nathan (played by Louis Garrel, her real-life partner) and together they struggle with the demands of a contemporary relationship. While Louise and her mother attempt to divest themselves of the family chateau, they also have to deal with doctors as their HIV positive son and brother, Ludovic, fights for his life. The film attempts to portray the end of one era and the beginning of a new one, in terms of family dynamics.

More stories by women are being told in Un Certain Regard. Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, which opened the section, takes its story from a Vanity Fair article about those now infamous kids who broke into stars' homes in Hollywood. The other women filmmakers in Un Certain Regard have stories that come from all over the map; some based in reality, others not.

castle italyValeria Golino's Italian entry, Miele, mean honey in English and is the name of the title character, a woman who helps people with terminal illnesses end their lives. When she finds out that she's given advice and aid to an older man who isn't ill, but just depressed, she goes to great lengths to get the drugs back so he can't off himself. In the process a relationship develops between the two that opens up many moral issues for each of them. Golino, an actress who has appeared in films from Italy and France (and the US, including Rain Man, Hot Shots and Leaving Las Vegas), makes her feature film directing debut here and creates very real characters, most of whom are just trying to do the right thing.

Rebecca Zlotowski showed her first feature film, Belle Épine, in the Critics' Week section of Cannes in 2010. She's back this year in Un Certain Regard with Grand Central. Having nothing to do with the noted New York City train station, it is instead a story of sexual attraction, energy and risk, against the backdrop of the very risky venue of a nuclear power plant. Léa Seydoux and Tahar Rahim (both of whom appear in other films in Cannes this year) each take risks - risks in love, as Karole (Seydoux's character) embarks on an affair just as she is about to marry, and risks on the job, as Rahim's character, Gary, attempts to fool the radiation counter so that he can continue to work and collect a paycheck.

golino Jasmine trincaThe French iconoclast filmmaker Claire Denis is represented with Bastards, a complex existential tale of family and revenge. Two celebrated French actors, Chiara Mastroianni and Vincent Lindon star along with Denis regular Grégoire Colin. And Lucia Puenzo is here with her third feature, Wakolda, a story that mixes Nazis in Argentina with a family trying to start a new life.

More on these films later, as well as more from women in Cannes.

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