Columbia Filmmakers in Official Selection for Cannes Film Festival 2020

BY Felix van Kann, June 4, 2020

The Truffle Hunters, co-directed by alumnus Gregory Kershaw '11, official selection in Cannes 2020

Due to the global pandemic, the Cannes Film Festival did not take place under its usual conditions from May 12 to May 23 this year, but that didn’t stop the organizers from revealing its 2020 lineup. Four films by Columbia filmmakers are listed among the 56 movies chosen for the Official Selection picked out of a total of 2,067 feature films submitted.


The Truffle Hunters, co-directed by alumnus Gregory Kershaw '11, was one of only three documentaries mentioned on the list. Broken Keys, directed by alumnus Jimmy Keyrouz '16, and Beginning, directed by alumna Dea Kulumbegashvilli '18 and produced by alumnus Ilan Amouyal '17, were among the First Features selected. Finally, Forastera, a short film written and directed by current student Lucía Aleñar Iglesias and produced by current student Marta Cruañas, was selected as one of ten short films in the Semaine de la Critique


Regarding their selection process despite the festival not taking place physically, festival officials commented, “To be adamant in our decision to deliver an Official Selection is ultimately, for the Festival, the best way to help cinema, as well as focus on the films that will be released in theaters in the coming months. The reopening of cinemas, after months of closure, is a crucial issue. The Cannes Film Festival intends to accompany these films and support their careers in France and abroad, as well as confirm the importance of theaters as in what makes the value of the Seventh Art. We know that many festivals are taking the same position.”


The Truffle Hunters, co-directed by Gregory Kershaw, is set deep in the forests of Northern Italy where the prized white Alba truffle resides. Desired by the wealthiest patrons in the world, it remains a pungent but rarified mystery. It cannot be cultivated or found, even by the most resourceful of modern excavators. The only souls on Earth who know how to dig it up are a tiny circle of canines and their silver-haired human companions—Italian elders with walking sticks and devilish senses of humor—who only scour for the truffle at night so as not to leave any clues for others. The film was already nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. 


Gregory Kershaw is a documentary and narrative filmmaker whose work explores the complexity and beauty of humans and their planet. He was recently a producer and the director of photography on The Last Race. In 2019, he was a Sundance Institute Catalyst Forum fellow and Music and Sound Design Lab fellow. 

Broken Keys, directed by alumnus Jimmy Keyrouz '16, official selection in Cannes 2020

In Broken Keys, the directorial debut of Jimmy Keyrouz, a pianist tries to escape his persecuted Middle-eastern town where modern ways of living and music have been banned by an extremist group. Broken Keys is a war-drama inspired by true events. The screenplay was previously selected for The Black List 2019 Annual Feature Lab. 


Previously, Keyrouz wrote and directed Nocturne in Black, which won the Gold Medal at the 43rd Student Academy Awards, the BAFTA Student Film Awards, the Directors Guild of America Film Award and was shortlisted for the 2017 Oscars in the Live Action Shorts category. The film premiered at Telluride Film Festival and gained worldwide distribution. He recently directed and edited The Holy Goats, a feature documentary film about the social impacts of climate change.

Beginning, directed by alumna Dea Kulumbegashvilli '18 and produced by alumnus Ilan Amouyal '17, official selection in Cannes 2020

Beginning, directed by Dea Kulumbegashvilli and produced by Ilan Amouyal, tells the story of a Jehovah Witness community that is attacked by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana, the wife of the community leader, slowly crumbles. Yana’s inner discontent grows as she struggles to make sense of her desires.


Dea Kulumbegashvili was born and raised in Georgia. She grew up in the remote Caucasus Mountains in the small town of Lagodekhi. Her upbringing in this historic melting pot of various cultures and nationalities is a primary influence in her vision as a filmmaker. After extensive years of working in the world of film, Dea enrolled at the Columbia University’s Directing and Screenwriting program in 2013.


Ilan Amouyal is a producer based in Paris and New York. He holds degrees from Brandeis and Harvard, attended l’Atelier at La Fémis and graduated from Columbia University winning the EP award for best producer in 2017. His projects have aired on HBO, played at the Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), IFF Rotterdam, and MoMA’s New Directors-New Films. In 2017, he produced Rust in Peace and La dernière Nuit starring Mélanie Thierry.

Forastera, written and directed by current student Lucía Aleñar Iglesias and produced by current student Marta Cruañas, official selection in Cannes 2020

Forastera, written and directed by Lucía Aleñar Iglesias and produced by Marta Cruañas plays in the summer on Mallorca where Antonia comes to recognize the latent similarities between her and her dead grandmother and discovers a power over her mourning grandfather. She can't resist playing dress-up, but it becomes unclear who is inhabiting who.


Iglesias is a screenwriter/director from Madrid. She earned her BFA in film production from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been living in New York for the past 9 years, freelancing in production, documentary, web series, and is now shifting her career to screenwriting and directing. Her latest short received funding from the EU's Creative Media Programme. Her work often centers on the inner turmoils of women.


Born in Barcelona, Cruañas is a film producer based in NY. In Barcelona, she worked in the post-production department of Endless Nights (starring Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne), which opened the Berlinale 2015. Then she jumped at the opportunity to work for Neo Art Producciones and then Distinto Films, where she dealt with all matters related to international markets, funding applications, development strategies, and marketing. This year she completed her first feature film as a producer: Júlia ist, directed by Elena Martin. Cruañas was recently featured in Variety as one of an upcoming noteworthy Catalan producer.