Six Italian films will participate in the various sections of the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (being held from 17 to 28 May). The official Un Certain Regard selection features Lucky, the latest film by Sergio Castellitto, and Après la Guerre by Annarita Zambrano.

"Hearing Thierry Frémaux quote Mamma Roma as he announced the selection Lucky is already a gift to me", declared Castellitto, who also attended Cannes back in 2004 with Don’t Move. Produced by Indigo Film in partnership with HT Film, Lucky was written by Margaret Mazzantini, and tells the story of a young mother (Jasmine Trinca) with a failed marriage under her belt and the dream of opening her own hair salon. The cast also features Stefano Accorsi, Alessandro Borghi, Edoardo Pesce, and Hanna Schygulla. The film will be released in Italy by Universal Pictures, whilst international sales are being handled by True Colours.

Annarita Zambrano, who was selected in competition at Cannes back in 2013 with her short film Ophelia, is back this year with a French co-production (Sensito, Cinéma Defacto and Movimento Film) set in Landes and Bologna, which tells the story of a former far-left activist (Giuseppe Battiston) sentenced to life in prison who is hiding out in France under the protection of the “Mitterrand doctrine”, and who Italy requests the extradition of. What follows is a lot of running and a media war. The cast of Après la Guerre also features Charlotte Cetaire, Jean-Marc Barr, Barbora Boboulova, Fabrizio Ferracane, Carolina Lanzoni, and Elisabetta Piccolomini. International sales are being handled by Pyramide International.

Sicilian Ghost Story will instead open Critics’ Week. After winning the Critics’ Week Grand Prix  and the Revelation Prize at the 66th Cannes Film Festival back in 2013 with Salvo, Sicilian directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza have once again been chosen by section director Charles Tesson, who described the film as "an incredible mix of different genres that combines a political dimension, fantasy and a love story with powerful skill". The protagonists of the film are 13-year-old Palermitans Luna and Giuseppe (played by first-time actors Julia Jedlikowska and Gaetano Fernandez), who are flanked by four other young actors in their acting debuts and professional actors Sabine Timoteo, Vincenzo Amato, Filippo Luna and Nino Prester. Sicilian Ghost Story is a co-production between Italy, France and Switzerland by Indigo Film, Cristaldi Pics and Rai Cinema for Italy, Mact Productions and JPG Films for France, and Ventura Film and RSI-Radiotelevisione Svizzera/SRG SSR for Switzerland. International sales will be handled by The Match Factory. With the screenplay, the two directors won the prestigious Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, which awards “emerging directors from all over the world with the originality, talent and vision to be celebrated as the future of global film".

Meanwhile, this year’s edition of Directors’ Fortnight will feature three Italian films: Intruder by Leonardo di CostanzoA Ciambra by Jonas Carpignano, and Pure Hearts by Roberto De Paolis, all co-produced by Rai Cinema.

Intruder, which stars choreographer and dancer Raffaella Giordano and first-time actress Valentina Vannino, is set in a reception centre in the Neapolitan suburbs. "This is not a film about the Camorra, it is a film about those who live alongside them", explained di Costanzo, a documentary maker who won multiple awards back in 2013 for his debut fictional piece The Interval. "A moving look at our times" is how the film was described by Directors’ Fortnight General Delegate Edouard Waintrop. Written by the director with Maurizio Braucci and Bruno OlivieroIntruder was produced by Tempesta with Rai Cinema, Amka Films Productions and Capricci, and is being sold by The Match Factory. I twill be released in Italy by Valerio De Paolis’ company Cinema.

Carpignano, who made his debut at Cannes in Critics’ Week in 2015 with Mediterranea, is back this year with A Ciambra, a film about the non-migratory rom community of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, featuring amateur actors: the current inhabitants of Ciambra. The film was produced by Stayblack, Haut et Court, DCM, and RT Features with Rai Cinema and funded as part of the Lu.Ca. project, the memorandum of understanding that paved the way for the cinematographic partnership between Basilicata and Calabria. The film is being sold by LuxBox. The director’s short film A Ciambra won a number of awards, including the Discovery Prize at the Cannes Film Festival (Critics’ Week, 2014), and a special mention at the Nastro d’Argento awards. The screenplay for the feature film was developed with the support of the Cinefondation Residence of the Cannes Film Festival, the Turin Film Lab (which awarded it the Artè award) and the Next Step Program at Critics’ Week.

Pure Hearts is the debut piece by Roberto De Paolis, "a love story between two young people from very different social backgrounds, an alternative interpretation of new Italian film", according to Waintrop. "At the centre of the film is the theme of virginity: on the one hand the virginity of a person, the childish delusion of purity and perfection, and on the other, the virginity of a land, the metaphor for barriers and walls raised to protect an identity”, said the 36-year-old director, who studied at the London International Film School. Before filming, De Paoliscarried out research on the ground, visiting reception centres and rom camps, also exploring the contemporary reality of Christian communities. The film stars Selene Caramazza, Simone Liberati, Barbora Bobulova, Stefano Fresi and Edoardo Pesce. The film was produced by Young Films with Rai Cinema, and is due to be released in Italy on 25 May by Cinema.