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After a number of acclaimed shorts and documentaries, Laurent Cantet drew acclaim for his feature debut 'Human Resources' (1999), a humanist drama about the ruthlessness of the business world. It's follow-up 'Time Out' (2001) also detailed the pressures of business life, but from the perspective of an executive who faces an existential crisis. Both films are deceptively simple in style, but skilfully draw the viewer into the world of the characters. In 'Heading South' (2005) Cantet focussed on a group of middle-age white women journeying to Haiti in the 1970s in search of sex. A study of post-colonial attitudes, it featured an outstanding central performance by Charlotte Rampling. Cantet then won the Palme d'Or for 'The Class' (2008), his uncompromising account of teaching in inner-city Paris. (Like all of his work, it was a collaboration with the writer and editor Robin Campillo, who has since embarked on his own filmmaking career.) 'Foxfire' (2012), an adaptation Joyce Carol Oates' novel about a girl gang never quite matches the drama of its source material. Cantet followed it with the more intimate 'Return to Ithaca' (2017), a chamber drama about a group of old friends who reunite in Havana to discuss the ups and downs of their lives. 'The Workshop', which was unveiled at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, harks back to the more improvisatory approach of 'The Class' as a group of teens engage and clash at a summer creative writing workshop.
Mark Cousins is a writer and filmmaker from Northern Ireland. He is the creator of 'The Story of Film: An Odyssey' (2011), a 15-hour television series, 'A Story of Children and Film' (2014) and 'The Eyes of Orson Welles' (2018). In 2009, along with actress Tilda Swinton, he mounted a portable cinema and hauled it manually through the Scottish Highlands. The result was a travelling film festival which featured in a documentary called 'Cinema is Everywhere'.