The 45th Deauville American film festival, taking place from 6 to 15 September, has a particularly feminine slant this year, with a large number of female-directed films, and two women jury presidents, Catherine Deneuve for the competition jury, and Anna Mouglalis for the revelation jury.
Deauville is its usual mix of mainstream and edgy, split between big stars and films looking at the margins of American society. It may be an American film festival, and the films tell American stories, but the choice is European.
Almost half the films in competition are by women directors and two-thirds are first films. Far from the metropolitan, west-east vision of the States seen on TV, many are set in small-town America. There are several stories focusing on teenagers.
Bull shows how 14-year-old Anna discovering rodeo riding with her neighbour as she helps him out to make amends for vandalising his home.
In Mickey and the Bear, a young woman faces the impossible choice of caring for her damaged, veteran father or escaping to make her own life at university. Share focuses on contemporary adolescent life as 16-year-old Mandy discovers a video of an evening she has no memory of and tries to stop it spreading.
Ham on Rye meanwhile brings to mind the classic American short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, though in a less horrific vein. In a strange rite of passage, all the teenagers of a small town parade to the deli where their fate will be decided: stay home or leave for the big city.
Sun, Sand and Stars
The boardwalks of the Normandy resort will be graced by Hollywood royalty as Talent Awards are distributed to Kristen Stewart, Geena Davis, Sienna Miller and GoT star Sophie Turner, while homages are paid to Johnny Depp and ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan.
Stewart stars in two of the films premiering at the festival, portraying real people in both. She plays the iconic New Wave actress Jean Seberg in an eponymous film exploring Seberg’s involvement in the Black Power movement (pictured above). In JT Leroy, she is a young woman playing the role of a transgender author of bestselling books actually written by her boyfriend’s sister.
Stewart’s erstwhile Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson is also at Deauville with two films, Waiting for the Barbarians, starring Johnny Depp as the administrator of an isolated frontier post of an unnamed empire and the eerie The Lighthouse, where Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are the lighthouse keepers and only inhabitants of a New England island in the 1890s.
Deauville American Film Festival
6-15 September 2019