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10 in America

10 filmakers in 10 U.S. cities

  • Cinema
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, DC

Understanding a city also means comparing it with the fantasies we wrap it up in, setting out to discover a space and its reality, exploring a territory with an imagined map, and developing a personal account of it.

“10 in America” is a residency project that brings together a generation of critically-acclaimed and award-winning filmmakers, including Alice Diop (Saint Omer – winner of the Silver Lion in Venise 2022 and France’s entry for the Oscars 2023). These filmmakers-in-residence will each explore a different American city, immersing themself into its culture, capturing its territory and building connections with its inhabitants.

Their discoveries will take a highly creative approach and culminate in 10 short documentaries portraying a contemporary America and opening a dialogue on some of the most pressing current issues.

Catherine Bizern is the project’s artistic director. As Managing Director of the Entrevues festival from 2006 to 2012, she witnessed this new generation of filmmakers as they came into their own. She is currently the General Delegate of the Cinéma du réel festival and the Artistic Director of the Centre des écritures cinématographiques at Moulin d’Andé, where she supports the works of contemporary filmmakers.

“10 in America” is being developed and produced by Michel Klein, through his company, Les Films Hatari. In 2002, Klein produced an initial anthology, “Portraits,” alongside French/German channel Arte, which was shown at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2004. Since then, he has produced over fifty feature films (fiction and documentary).

Beginning July 2022, Villa Albertine will host the following 10 filmmakers: 

Joel Akafou in Chicago  

Joël Akafou made an early name for himself with his first two feature films, Vivre riche and Traverser, which earned the Grand Prize at Entrevues in 2020. In Chicago, where Akafou’s role model Michael Jordan grew to super-stardom, the filmmaker will set out on his tail, filming African American youth and coming to terms with his own Black and African experience.

Aya Cissoko in New Orleans 

A former world champion boxer, Aya Cissoko just published her second book, Au nom de tous les tiens. She is now interested in exploring the medium of film. Cissoko believes that an inclusive utopia is coming, and to achieve it, recognizes the importance of knowing our history. She will travel from Paris-Belleville to New Orleans, where the violence of the past nurtures a present that is transcendent with the energy of survival.

Alice Diop in New York  

Winner of the 2019 César for her short film Vers la tendresse, Alice Diop is first and foremost a documentarian, with her last film, NOUS, winning the Encounters Grand Prize at Berlin. In New York, she will share her experience of the city through a visual interpretation of a poem by a Black American woman poet.

Hassen Ferhani in Miami  

Franco-Algerian documentary filmmaker Hassen Ferhani has made several feature films, including Dans ma tête un rond point and 143 rue du désert (Golden Leopard for Best Emerging Filmmaker, Locarno 2019). In Miami-Dade County he will walk the streets of Opa-Locka, a real city with architecture and planning torn from the pages of One Thousand and One Nights. Here, Ferhani will seek situations and subjects who enable a reactivation of this mythology in the present-day.

Yann Gonzalez in San Francisco  

Yann Gonzalez’s first feature film was selected for Cannes’ International Critics’ Week in 2013, and his second, Un couteau dans le cœur, was selected at Cannes in 2018. Inspired by Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art and the universe of Curt Mc Dowell, Yann Gonzales will train his eye on San Francisco, the city of the avant-garde and of emancipation.

Sarah Léonor in Boston

Sarah Léonor studied History of Art and Cinema and directed her first short films in the 1990s. The collaboration with her present-day producer Michel Klein started with the short film L’Arpenteur in 2001 and continued her first feature A Real Life (Au Voleur) (Locarno IFF in 2009) starring Guillaume Depardieu. Sarah will explore Boston, searching for the figures of the past while filming the present.

Sophie Letourneur in Houston  

Sophie Letourneur’s work is driven by an attentiveness contemporary femininity and to the extraordinary that can be found within the everyday, its absurdity and its capers, as illustrated in her feature films La vie au Ranch and Enorme. In Houston, immersed in a strange yet familiar environment, she will try to capture the city by confronting the otherness of masculinity and science.

Valérie Massadian in Atlanta  

The one-time assistant of Nan Goldin, Valérie Massadian has directed two feature-length fiction films, each of which plays on the frontiers between documentary and fiction: Nana (Golden Leopard for Best First Feature, Locarno 2011) and Milla (Special Jury Prize, Locarno 2017). Massadian will explore Atlanta on board a van, where she will collect inhabitants’ stories and dig into the nooks and crannies of the city, which envelop the entire history of the US and its antagonisms.

Bojina Panayotova in Washington D.C.  

Bojina Panayotova is a filmmaker who loves to confront lies, secrets, and power. In Washington, D.C. she will focus on an event that look place the day after Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election, the “Women’s Pentagon Action”. She aims to awaken the memory of this movement – a 2,000-woman protest which engulfed the Pentagon in dance and originated eco-feminism in the United States.

Virgil Vernier in Los Angeles 

Between documentary and fiction, Virgil Vernier is a filmmaker of urban and supra-urban environments. Hi notably directed Orleans, Sofiantipolis, Les mercuriales. In Calabasas, Los Angeles, Vernier will direct a bedbug invasion in a mansion, a work that will straddle documentary and horror.

The 1964 anthology film “Paris vu par…” was directed by six filmmakers of the New Wave. Six stories, six perspectives on Paris, and one of the most iconic films of an era of French cinema in full bloom. That model is the inspiration for “10 in America” – ten shorts grouped together, directed by ten French filmmakers. Each director will share with us their immersive experience of a US city.

Understanding a city also means comparing it with the fantasies we wrap it up in, setting out to discover a space and its reality, exploring a territory with an imagined map, and developing a personal account of it. “10 in America” is an exercise in discovery that advocates for a cinema of action and highlights ten cities as they stood when the films were being made, over a period of three months – discover, reflect, shoot.

These principles and constraints encourage a lighter, documentary-style approach that some of the filmmakers aren’t necessarily familiar with. This proposal also aims to encourage everyone to travel, research, and investigate on a trip to an unknown city. But the documentary form doesn’t preclude fantasy, narrative construction or staging – each film will bear the mark of its author, and the sum of all ten films will defy the boundaries between documentary and fiction, coming to life in the field, in a light and playful way.

Bizern gave each filmmaker a city to explore, trusting her instinct to surmise links between a creator’s universe and a particular territory: Yann Gonzales in San Francisco, Virgil Vernier in Los Angeles, Sophie Letourneur in Houston, Hassen Ferahni in Miami, Valérie Massadian in Atlanta, Bojina Panayaotova in Washington, D.C., Sarah Léonor in Boston, Alice Diop in New York etc. Each city exists in its own unique way, because of its history, its inhabitants, its industries, its migrants, and its geographical location. Each has developed its own imagery and myth. Experience and discovery will feed on the city’s imagery, and each film will be as much the telling of a story as the result of a journey between vision and reality.

This anthology provides an opportunity to broaden our perspectives, views and expressions of the United States, that Mecca of cinema, to form a mosaic of a multifaceted, fragmented country. Although we cannot foresee the filmmakers’ avenues of investigation and expression, we can expect their gaze to build a bridge between here and there, by exploring universal concerns.

In partnership with

Les Films Hatari

Les Films Hatari is an independent French film and television program production company founded in 2002. Its ambition is to support films that seal a committed narrative with strong cinematography, with strong potential for financing and marketing on the French, European and extra-European markets. French. Since its birth, Les films Hatari has produced around fifty films, most of which have been screened at festivals around the world.

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