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'Caramel' (2007) not only announced a striking new talent, it challenged what many might have expected from a female Lebanese director. Undermining stereotypes and hilariously funny at times, it also offered an insight into the roles of women in contemporary Beirut. 'Where Do We Go Now' (2011) employed the same device used in 'Lysistrata' (and more recently Spike Lee's 'Chi-Raq', 2015) – where sex is withheld from men until they can learn to live more peacefully.
Few contemporary filmmakers travel as far down the road of human relationships in extremis as Joachim Lafosse. Eschewing visual flourishes in favour of grounded, realistic drama, his international breakthrough came with his third feature 'Private Property' (2006). It starred Isabelle Huppert as a divorced mother of two who decides to change her life, prompting friction between the family members. In 'Private Lessons' (2008), a young tennis player is taken under the wing of an old pro, whose family life is rapidly disintegrating. 'Our Children' (2012), based on a true story, tells the devastating story of a young woman ('Rosetta'’s Émilie Dequenne) whose marriage to a man (Tahar Rahim) and co-habitation with his initially benevolent adoptive father results in a tragic outcome. Its refusal to shy away from extreme human behaviour resulted in an uncomfortable but all-too-credible drama. 'After Love' (2016) is no less uncompromising as it details the attempt of an estranged couple and parents of two girls who economic circumstances for them to live together. But like all of Lafosse’s work, 'After Love' is a film of compassion and humanity.
Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens. He has directed a series of videos for dance-theatre companies, television commercials, music videos, short films and plays. In 2011, he staged Chekhov's 'Platonov' at the Greek National Theatre. His second feature 'Dogtooth' (2009) won the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Academy Awards.
Mike Leigh's background in theatre and use of improvisation techiniques have resulted in some of the most distinctive British films of the last 30 years. The comic realism of 'Nuts in May' (1976) and 'Abigail's Party' (1977), both made for the BBC Play for Today Programme marked him out as a great director with actors. His film 'Secrets & Lies' won the Palme d'Or in 1996.
In 2006, Sebastián Lelio completed 'La Sagrada Familia', which premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival, where it received many awards and international recognition. More recently he was distinguished with the Guggenheim Fellowship and received the support of DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm for the development of his new projects.