Directors’ Fortnight is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, so IndieWire is looking back at 19 filmmakers who had their directorial breakthroughs at the prestigious Cannes sidebar. Fortnight runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival each year, but it is an indepedent section and often serves as a launching pad for directors around the world.
Click through the gallery for 19 directors who got their start at Directors’ Fortnight.
“Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” was not Akerman’s first feature, but it was the one that cemented her legacy. The 200-minute character study premiered at Directors’ Fortnight 1975 and became a milestone in Akerman’s career.
Cholodenko kicked off her career with back-to-back premieres at Directors’ Fortnight. Her feature debut “High Art” screened in 1998, while her star-studded follow-up “Laurel Canyon,” featuring Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, and Kate Beckinsale, played the sidebar in 2002.
Sofia Coppola’s directing career got its start at Directors’ Fortnight 1999 when her feature debut, “The Virgin Suicides,” premiered to rave reviews. The filmmaker would go on to compete for the Palme d’Or with “Marie Antoinette” and “The Beguiled,” the latter of which won her best director.
Jean-Pierre and Luce Dardenne are in a rare group of directors with two Palme d’Or wins, but the directing duo first came to Cannes by premiering “The Promise” at Director’s Fortnight 1996. The film became a critical darling in France and later recieved a César Award nomination for best foreign film.
Dolan began his prosperous relationship with the Cannes Film Festival by debuting his first feature “I Killed My Mother” at Directors’ Fortnight 2009. The movie won three prizes: the C.I.C.A.E. Award, Regards Jeunes Prize, and the SACD Prize.
French director Bruno Dumont is a regular competitor for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but he first gained attention when his debut film, “Life of Jesus,” premiered in Directors’ Fortnight 1997 and won the Camera d’Or. Dumon most recently returned to Directors’ Fortnight in 2017 with “Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc.”
Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature “Mustang” premiered at Directors’ Fortnight 2015 and won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. The film went on to earn nine César Award nominations and an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.
“All Is Forgiven,” Hansen-Løve’s debut feature after a string of successful short films, premiered at Directors’ Fortnight 2007 and won the filmmaker the Louis Delluc Prize for Best First Film.
Three years after the debut of his first film, “Permanent Vacation,” Jim Jarmusch brought his next effort, “Stranger Than Paradise,” to Directors’ Fortnight 1984. The filmmaker ended up winning the Camera d’Or, and the movie remains one of the most seminal American indies.
Pablo Larraín’s second feature, “Tony Manero,” debuted at Directors’ Fortnight 2008, but it was the debut of his political drama “No” at Directors’ Fortnight 2012 that announced Larraín as one of the best international filmmakers working today. “Neruda” also played Directors’ Fortnight in 2016.
Spike Lee was only 29 years old when “She’s Gotta Have It” debuted at Directors’ Fortnight 1986 and won the new director the Award of Youth prize. Lee would go on to compete for the Palme d’Or several times, first with “Do The Right Thing” in 1989, and most recently with “BlacKkKlansman” this year.
Long before he won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with “A Fantastic Woman,” Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio turned heads at Directors’ Fortnight 2009 with his second feature, “Navidad.”
Six years before “Star Wars” made him the most famous man in Hollywood, George Lucas came to Directors’ Fortnight 1971 to debut his first feature, “THX 1138.”
Jafar Panahi catapulted into the big leagues after his debut film, “The White Balloon,” premiered at Directors’ Fortnight 1995 and won the Camera d’Or. Panahi is now competing for the Palme d’Or this year with “Three Faces.”
Josh and Benny Safdie brought their first feature, “The Pleasure of Being Robbed,” to Directors’ Fortnight 2008 after it first premiered at Sundance. Their breakout second feature, “Daddy Longlegs,” debuted at the sidebar in 2009 under the name “Go Get Some Rosemary.”
Jeremy Saulnier has been a staple of Directors’ Fortnight over the least decade. The indie director’s breakout feature “Blue Ruin” won the FIPRESCI Prize in 2013, while his follow-up “Green Room” premiered in the sidebar in 2015.
“Mean Streets” was Scorsese’s third feature following “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” and “Boxcar Bertha,” but it’s the movie many recognize as his directorial breakthrough. The film played Directors’ Fortnight 1974, two years before he would go on to win the Palme d’Or for “Taxi Driver.”
Lynn Shelton already had three features under her belt by the time she headed to France with “Humpday,” but her debut at Directors’ Fortnight in 2009 was a breakthrough for her career. The director had been a staple at small American indie festivals like SXSW, but her Directors’ Fortnight debut was her first international jump.
Chloé Zhoe’s debut feature, “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” made her a director to watch after screenings at Sundance and Cannes, but “The Rider” premiere at Directors’ Fortnight 2017 turned her into one of the best new directors working today.