The man from Cannes says yes

It looks as if it will be a bumper year for Britain at the Cannes Film Festival, the programme of which was announced this week. Sheila Johnston surveys the line-up and (right) finds out how Pierre-Henri Deleau picks the films for the Directors' Fortnight

Around 9.00pm, in a large hotel just off Wardour Street, Pierre- Henri Deleau, the man behind the the Directors' Fortnight, orders himself a large drink. He has just spent four days, including the Easter weekend, watching several dozen British films back-to-back in Soho's subterranean warren of preview theatres, fuelled by nothing but several litres of coffee. He's bushed.

Next month in Cannes the Directors' Fortnight will unveil between 15 and 20 new films to the international press. To find them Deleau has been on the road since December and viewed about 600 films. He whips out a big ledger to prove it, pages and pages of titles, all transcribed in an impeccably tidy hand and all, it seems, marked with a damning "N". By last week, Deleau had said "oui" to just 11 films, eight of them by first-time directors. But he's still looking.

He prides himself on his independent status. "The Directors' Fortnight is my gallery: I put on the wall the paintings that I like. And if people don't like my choice, I really don't care. I want to be free to say 'bullshit' to the Minister of Culture." Discretion also forbids him from schmoozing with film folk: "Everyone starts out loving me. And everyone wants to kill me afterwards. I never take calls from producers; my life is simpler that way".

Deleau doesn't believe in relying on scouts to weed out the worst contenders, which means he has to suffer some terrible dogs - stuff that flies well below the radar, displaying levels of incompetence to which most film- goers are rarely exposed. He says he'll check out anything that's put forward, but doesn't pretend that he's always still there when the final credits roll.

British film-makers will be gratified to hear that this doesn't generally apply to them: "Sometimes there are no surprises in British films. But the quality is there. I don't see the kind of stupid movies I come across in France and Italy. The British are beginning to be proud of themselves again."

Deleau was 25 when he drove from his native Lille to Paris in a Deux- Chevaux, hoping to break into movies. His natural first port of call was the legendary Henri Langlois, the colourful and expansive character who headed the Paris Cinmathque for many years and who became a focal point for French film culture (he was unofficial godfather to Truffaut, Godard and the rest of the Nouvelle Vague generation). When Deleau accosted him, Langlois was by chance trying to find a taxi, and his eye fell on Deleau's car. "You can start," he said, "by being my driver."

And so for the next three months Deleau chauffered Langlois's substantial frame around Paris in his little 2CV, hanging out with him and the likes of John Ford: the crme de la crme of international cinema. Eventually, Langlois caught him crying at a Mizoguchi movie and told him he was sacked: he was ready to become a film-maker. Deleau quickly discovered he had no talent in that department. Soon, however, another opportunity presented itself.

In 1968, as the seismic shock from the vnements in Paris rippled south, protesters closed the Cannes Film Festival. It had, they said, become a bastion of reactionary bourgeois culture: always the same few countries, the same safe names. The next year Deleau set up the Directors' Fortnight to present an alternative point of view.

It remains separate from the official selection, based in a comfortable 900-seat cinema several hundred metres from the Palais des Festivals. Deleau says he hasn't spoken to the festival director, Gilles Jacob, in five years, though both men are based in Paris. A certain rivalry exists between them and, while Deleau's programme is by far the most prestigious of Cannes' many (too many) sidebar events, he knows that a producer will almost always prefer his film to be in the brighter glare of the competition.

Often, a new talent discovered by Deleau (he introduced festival-goers to Scorsese, Lucas, Fassbinder, Oshima, Angelopoulos, Mikhalkov, Spike Lee, Jarmusch) will abscond to the main festival for his next film, and it's not unknown for Jacob to poach some of the Fortnight's prize catches at the eleventh hour.

But Deleau believes that the smaller, less glitzy work will meet with a more appreciative response at his screenings, where people aren't busy rubbernecking for stars (Stephen Frears chose to return there with The Snapper when he was at the peak of his international fame). These aren't showbiz events: no paparazzi and strictly no black ties. And, exceptionally in Cannes, where the rest of the fest unfolds in a sealed and self-regarding vacuum, the locals are welcome: 33 per cent of the seats are reserved for them.

Like many film lovers, he's scornful of the media circus which the festival has become: "The most important thing now is the red carpet." This year, for instance, the closing film is The Quick and the Dead, a feminist western directed by Sam Raimi, who once had a certain cult following for The Evil Dead. But everyone knows Raimi isn't the real reason why the film (which got sniffy reviews in America) is playing on the Croisette. That reason is Sharon Stone. The selection also includes, for the first time in years, a film by the severe veteran Portuguese director Manuel de Oliveira: could is be a coincidence, Deleau wonders, that the star is Catherine Deneuve?

Deleau's own line-up this year includes work from Austria, Iran, Palestine and America. The jewel in his crown is a first film, Le Confessionel, a Hitchcockian thriller directed by the Qubecois theatre guru Robert Lepage: "a masterpiece, so classical it ought to be in competition. He has a great sense of bridges." Big names aren't guaranteed a place: he turned down Wim Wenders' new film, Lisbon Story, which now plays in the section Un Certain Regard.

The final choice won't be made until a couple of days before the festival: just long enough to get the programmes printed. "I was always last at school," Deleau says. "But my slaves [he has three members of staff] work very hard. And what do you gain by announcing it early? Some photos in the glossy monthlies. I don't care a damn about them."

AND THE CHOSEN FILMS ARE...

The City of Lost Children by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro (France), opening film

Ulysses' Regard by Theo Angelopoulos (Greece).

Stories of Kronen by Montxo Armendariz (Spain).

Don't Forget You Will Die by Xavier Beauvois (France).

La Haine (Hatred) by Mathieu Kassovitz (France).

Land and Freedom by Ken Loach (Britain).

Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch (US).

Jefferson in Paris by James Ivory (US).

Ed Wood by Tim Burton (US).

Beyond Rangoon by John Boorman (US).

The Madness of King George by Nicholas Hytner (Britain)

Waati by Souleymane Cisse (Mali).

Senatorul Melcilor by Mircea Daneliuc (Romania).

Kids by Larry Clark (US).

The Neon Bible by Terence Davies (Britain).

Angels and Insects by Philip Haas (US).

Carrington by Christopher Hampton (Britain).

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Marion Hansel (Belgium).

Shanghai Triads by Zhang Yimou (China).

Good Men Good Women by Hou Hsiao Hsien (Taiwan).

Sharaku by Masahiro Shinoda (Japan).

Underground by Emir Kusturica (former Yugoslavia).

L'Amore Molesto by Mario Martone (Italy).

O Convento by Manuel de Oliviera (Portugal).

Sharaku by Masahiro Shinoda (Japan).

The Quick and the Dead by Sam Raimi (US), closing film

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past