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Female Director To Open Cannes Film Festival For First Time in 28 Years

French Director Emmanuelle Bercot will become the first female to open the Cannes Film Festival in 28 years. (Photo: UniFrance Films)

Emmanuelle Bercot, a veteran French film director, will kick off the 68th Cannes Film Festival in May with her latest picture “La Tete Haute,” a feat last accomplished in 1987 by another French filmmaker, Diane Kurys, who directed “Un homme amoureux.”

Bercot, 47, has also worked as an actress and a screenwriter. She’s directed five previous films.

Her film “Clément” was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

Her latest film focuses on a child and young teen, Malony, who grows up in rough circumstances that constantly land him in trouble, until a juvenile judge and a social worker step into his life.

The film tracks Malony’s life as a child until he is 18 years old. It stars Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, Sara Forestier and Rod Paradot as Malony.

Thierry Frémaux, a General Delegate of the Event, explained how the choice departs from previous festivals when mainstream Hollywood films like “The Great Gatsby” typically opened the event.

“The choice of this film may seem surprising, given the rules generally applied to the Festival de Cannes Opening Ceremony. It is a clear reflection of our desire to see the Festival start with a different piece, which is both bold and moving. Emmanuelle Bercot’s film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focusses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes.”

Bercot attended La Fémis film school and first gained recognition when her short film, “Les Vacances,” received the Jury Prize at the festival.

She wrote, directed and starred in her first full-length Cannes film, “Clément,” according to the organization.

She teamed with Marcia Romano to write “La Tête Haute” with Guillaume Schiffman as director of photography.

The festival takes place from May 13 to May 24. The Jury of the Competition, which awards the most prestigious award, will be chaired by American directors Joel and Ethan Coen.

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