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#Prestige: Films on Lankan civil war, Sikh separatists, in official competition at Cannes

Richa Chadda in a still from Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’

A film directed by a celebrated French filmmaker about a Sri Lankan Tamil who flees the country’s ethnic conflict; an adaptation of a harrowing story set inside the Sikh separatist movement of the 1980’s and British-Indian filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s documentary on the life and death of singer Amy Winehouse are among the official selections at the Cannes Film Festival 2015.

French director Jacques Audiard’s ‘Dheepan’ will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or – the festival’s top prize – alongside films by the likes of Gus Van Sant (‘The Sea of Trees’), Justin Kurzel (‘Macbeth’) and Todd Haynes’s Cate Blanchett-starrer ‘Carol’.

‘Dheepan’ follows the eponymous protagonist, a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel, who flees to Paris during the dying days of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, in the hope of claiming asylum.  He decides to take with him a woman and her young daughter and pose as a family in order to strengthen his claim. 

However, the realities of life as an exile are far removed from his dreams of the West – the struggle to survive in an alien land brings out Dheepan’s Tiger spirit, one which he will have to rely on to protect his fake family. 

A brace of Indian films will compete in the Festival’s Un Certain Regard section for original and innovative films seeking international recognition.

The first is ‘The Fourth Direction’ by Punjabi filmmaker Gurvinder Singh.  Set in the tumult of Panjab in the early 1980’s the film explores the rise of the separatist Sikh movement following the violence perpetrated against Sikhs in retaliation for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Singh is an exceptional talent – he won the National Award for Best Direction for his powerful feature debut ‘Alms for a Blind Horse’ in 2011.  His latest is based on a series of short stories by the Punjabi author Waryam Singh Sandhu.

The second is ‘Masaan’, the debut feature by Neeraj Ghaywan who previously worked as an assistant to Indian indie film heavyweight Anurag Kashyap who produced the film through his Phantom Pictures production company.

Details about ‘Masaan’ are a closely-guarded secret.  The film stars Richa Chadda and Shweta Tripathi and is said to revolve around two people who become close friends after both suffer personal traumas.

Asif Kapadia’s ‘Amy’ will have a Midnight Screening at the Festival.

The film comes four years after Winehouse’s tragic death and explores the singer’s extraordinary musical gift, her meteoric rise to fame and how the world was robbed of one of the most gifted artists of recent decades.

Cannes 2015 runs May 13-24.

Competition
“Dheepan,” dir: Jacques Audiard
“A Simple Man,” dir: Stephane Brize
“Marguerite and Julien,” dir: Valerie Donzelli
“The Tale of Tales,” dir: Matteo Garrone
“Carol,” dir: Todd Haynes
“The Assassin,” dir: Hou Hsiao Hsien
“Mountains May Depart,” dir: Jia Zhang-Ke
“Our Little Sister,” dir: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
“Macbeth,” dir: Justin Kurzel
“The Lobster,” dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
“Mon Roi,” dir: Maiwenn
“Mia Madre,” dir: Nanni Moretti
“Son of Saul,” dir: Laszlo Nemes
“Youth,” dir: Paolo Sorrentino
“Louder Than Bombs,” dir: Joachim Trier
“The Sea of Trees,” dir: Gus Van Sant
“Sicario,” dir: Denis Villeneuve

Un Certain Regard
“Madonna,” dir: Shin Suwon
“Maryland,” dir: Alice Winocour
“The Fourth Direction,” dir: Gurvinder Singh
“Masaan” (“Fly Away Solo”), dir: Neeraj Ghaywan
“Hruter” (“Rams”), dir: Grimur Hakonarson
“Kishibe No Tabi” (“Journey to the Shore”), dir: Kurosawa Kiyoshi
“Je Suis Un Soldat” (“I Am a Soldier”), dir: Laurent Larivere
“Zvizdan” (“The High Sun”), dir: Dalibor Matanic
“The Other Side,” dir: Roberto Minervini
“One Floor Below,” dir: Radu Muntean
“Shameless,” dir: Oh Seung-Uk
“The Chosen Ones,” dir: David Pablos
“Nahid,” dir: Ida Panahandeh
“The Treasure,” dir: Corneliu Porumboiu

Out of Competition
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” dir: George Miller
“Irrational Man,” dir: Woody Allen
“Inside Out,” dir: Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen
“Le Petit Prince” (“The Little Prince”), dir: Mark Osborne
Special Screenings
“Oka,” dir: Souleymane Cisse
“Sipur Al Ahava Ve Choshech” (“A Tale of Love and Darkness”), dir: Natalie Portman
“Hayored Lema’ala,” dir: Elad Keidan
“Amnesia,” dir: Barbet Schroeder
“Panama,” dir: Pavel Vuckovic
“Asphalte,” dir: Samuel Benchetrit
“L’esprit de l’escalier,” dir: Pabla Lucavic

Midnight Screenings
“O Piseu” (“Office”), dir: Hong Won-Chan
“Amy,”: dir: Asif Kapadia

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