Cannes Docs: The shock of the real

Cannes Docs: The shock of the real

PARISDOC, the industry arm of Cinéma du Réel, presents four new projects at Cannes Marché, three of which are set in the US, one featuring the niece of murdered Minnesota resident George Floyd.


Nicolas Peduzzi’s second feature Ghost Town is described as a stroll through the ghost town of Houston on the heels of four characters who are as chaotic as they are dazzling. Painting a portrait of the town of Houston, the paths of these characters intertwine. Meanwhile, in the distance, a hurricane looms.


One of these characters is Bloodbath, an androgynous, afro American rapper who, says PARISDOC Head Anaïs Desrieux, is the niece of George Floyd, which charges the project with a greater sense of urgency and purpose.


“The filmmaker just went over to film again, so he will cover this political hurricane at the same time you have this meteorological hurricane that is coming to city of Houston,” she says. “It is really a special ambience.”


The €520,726 budget film’s running time is expected to be 90 minutes and has an estimated release date of January 2021. During Cannes Marché, producer Carine Ruszniewski is hoping to find distributors and a sales agent.


The three US-based films are shot “from three different perspectives,” Desrieux adds. “But they probably have one thing in common. They show a despair. They show a sinking world.”


Debut doc feature The Last Hillbilly (Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe) also has “this disturbing ambience,” according to Desrieux. The €440,902 film is a portrait of a hillbilly family through the words of one of their own, combining documentary observation of a world on the verge of disappearing. 


“The really interesting thing is that we get into the interior thoughts of one of the protagonists,” says the PARISDOC chief. “The filmmakers actually let him record himself alone and that made a big difference in the film.” Hillbilly is an insult some of them use to define themselves, the film notes state, almost as a provocation. Eighty-eight per cent of the budget is in place and the film’s is producer Jean-Laurent Csinidis of Films de Force Majeure (Paris).


The third US-located film is Venice Beach, CA, which is shot from a series of fixed vantage points. Every morning, like Sisyphus pushing his rock, the sun rises and the homeless arise, look at the world and start their day. “It is a fascinating political portrait of the city,” says Desrieux of the low-budget (€95,000) second feature of Marion Naccache, who lives and works between Paris and Rio. The release date is some time in 2021, and producer Ailton Franco Jr is looking for a French co-producer, distributor, international sales agent and festival interest.


The final project is Mbah Jhiwo (Ancient Soul, Sulphur Island), a 120-minute Spanish project directed by debutant Alvaro Gurrea and produced by Rocio Mesa, a Spanish filmmaker, programmer and producer based in California.


In the film, a sulphur miner finds his routine radically altered the moment his wife leaves. He enters a time loop that transforms his reality as his beliefs move from animism to Islam and then capitalism. In a hybridization between ethno-fiction and documentary, the film questions the myth of progress and explores the relationship with the otherness in the neo-colonial reality of the South Seas.


PARISDOC discovered the project when the film’s producer answered the event’s general call. “The images were just astonishing,” says Desrieux, “and shows a dimension of absurdity, of repetition, of tradition, and also the random conversation of daily life, but within a frame that makes everything beautiful.” Eighty per cent of the €250,000 is secured, and the film has an expected release date of January 2021.


The projects were earmarked for pitch at PARISDOC in the Spring, which was cancelled due to coronavirus. “They are four really daring proposals in terms of storytelling and filmmaking. We really love them,” concludes Desrieux.