What is Un Certain Regard?

Cannes’s sidebars and parallel festivals kick off today (other than Cannes Classics, which opened yesterday with a restoration of “The Mother and the Whore.”)

One you’ll likely hear chatter about is Un Certain Regard, the official selection’s largest sidebar of new films. The section’s name is usually translated into English as “a certain look”; this doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the event, which is about looking to new horizons and filmmakers.

In effect, Un Certain Regard functions as a low-key mirror image of the main competition. Screenings are in the Salle Claude Debussy, which doesn’t have the same evening-dress-code restrictions as the larger Grand Théâtre Lumière, where the competition films play. The program has its own jury, with this year’s chaired by the Italian actress Valeria Golino. And while the prizes are not nearly as scrutinized as the Palme d’Or, Un Certain Regard’s top award has in the past gone to filmmakers who went on to have major careers, like Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos.

That said, Un Certain Regard can’t simply be described as a lineup of up-and-coming filmmakers. Occasionally, the programmers throw a past Palme contender like Sofia Coppola, or Claire Denis, into the mix, which inevitably looks insulting to those directors, regardless of whether that’s the intention.

Un Certain Regard also frequently serves as a platform for actors making their feature-directing debuts. This year, Riley Keough is here with “War Pony,” which she directed with Gina Gammell. It’s billed as a coming-of-age story about two young Oglala Lakota men.

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