10 to Watch: The New Stars of French Cinema

In Film & Series 24 May, 2024

Eva Peydró

Eva Peydró


For another year, the Festival de Cannes has rolled out the red carpet for ten French talents who have excelled in the field of filmmaking and who represent the renewal of French cinema. Unifrance’s ‘10 to Watch’ have been selected for the excellence of their work by international journalists Rebecca Leffler (Screen International), Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa), Elsa Keslassy (Variety), Christine Masson (France Inter), and Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter), and are representative of freedom and personality, having stood out in their various facets for their artistic choices and unique perspectives. At Cannes, Unifrance pays tribute to this new generation of directors and actors, who contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the French film and television industry and promote the dissemination of their work beyond France’s borders.

10 to Watch

Ten to Watch © Christophe Clovis

These are the “10 to Watch”, directors and actors we will continue to talk about in these pages, and of whom we have already been able to appreciate their particular talents:

Jean-Baptiste Durand

A former student of the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Montpellier, from which he graduated with honors, Jean-Baptiste Durand first became interested in painting and drawing, before moving into filmmaking. After graduating, he worked as a film technician, then directed several music videos and documentaries, as well as several short films selected and awarded at film festivals. Warmly received by audiences and critics alike, his debut feature, Junkyard Dog, won the Audience Award at the Premiers Plans festival. It also earned its director the very first Pierre Chevalier Award, presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023, and at the César Award for Best First Film in 2024. Jean-Baptiste Durand will also star in Alain Guiraudie’s latest film, Misericordia, presented in the Cannes Premiere strand at Cannes 2024. He is now working on a new feature: L’homme qui avait peur des femmes.

10 to Watch

Sofia Alaoui

French-Moroccan director and screenwriter Sofia Alaoui came to prominence with her short film So What if the Goats Die, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and the César Award for Best Short Fiction Film in 2021. Her debut feature, Animalia, a science-fiction film with a political slant, premiered at Sundance in 2023, where it was awarded the Special Jury Prize. Sofia Alaoui then moved into television series, and is currently working on a detective series, Let the Earth Burn, and on a second project in development with a streaming platform. At the same time, she is preparing two feature film projects: Tarfaya, an apocalyptic thriller set in the Moroccan desert, and the first English-language film, adapted from a short story.

10 to Watch

Suzy Bemba

Suzy Bemba made her name with the role of Flora, a young ballerina, alongside Ariane Labed, in the spellbinding drama L’Opéra, a series created by Cécile Ducrocq and Benjamin Adam. In 2023, she gave a remarkable performance as Toinette in Yorgos Lanthimos’ critically acclaimed film Poor Things, which won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and four Oscars. She played the lead role in Catherine Corsini’s Homecoming, presented in Competition at Cannes in 2023, which earned her a place among the 2024 Revelations of the César Academy. This year, she stars alongside Cynthia Erivo in Anthony Chen’s Drift, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2023, and plays in Game Changers, by Jérémie Sein. She also represented France in the European Shooting Stars at the Berlin Film Festival in 2024.

10 to Watch

Céleste Brunnquell

Céleste Brunnquell began acting at the age of 11. In 2018, Sarah Suco offered her the lead role in her debut feature, The Dazzled. Her deeply moving performance earned her an acting award at the Sarlat Film Festival and a nomination for the César Award for Most Promising Actress. She then appeared in the series In Treatment, by Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. In 2021, she acted in The Origin of Evil, directed by Sébastien Marnier, and in Jeanne Aslan and Paul Saintillan’s debut feature, Spare Keys, selected at the San Sebastian Film Festival. In 2023, she starred in Erwan Le Duc’s No Love Lost, presented at La Semaine de la Critique, a role for which she was again nominated for a César Award for Best Female Revelation. She stars in Antoine Raimbault’s Smoke Signals, and will soon been seen in Céline Rouzet’s debut feature For Night Will Come, Jessica Palud’s Being Maria (presented in the Cannes Premiere strand at Cannes 2024), and Rembrandt by Pierre Schoeller.

10 to Watch

Stéphan Castang

Stéphan Castang has acted on the stage with Marion Guerrero, Benoît Lambert, Ivan Grinberg, and Thomas Poulard. He has also worked with the L’Artifice theater company, both as an actor and playwright (Lettres d’amour de 0 à 10, which received the Molière for Best Show for Young Audiences in 2005). He is the author of a number of plays: Boule de gomme, Le Défilé de César, Une divine tragédie (co-written with Sacha Wolff). He has also written and directed several short films, including French Kids (Berlin Film Festival 2012), Pantheon Discount (awarded at Clermont-Ferrand, Thessalonica, Tübingen/Stuttgart, etc.), and Finale (awarded at Clermont-Ferrand, Trouville, and Brussels). Recipient of the 2021 Gan Foundation for Cinema award, he presented his debut feature, Vincent Must Die, at La Semaine de la Critique in Cannes in 2023. In 2024, the film was nominated for a Lumières Award and a César Award for Best First Film.

10 to Watch

Stefan Crepon

Stefan Crepon trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique and made his first film appearance in 2018 in Cédric Kahn’s The Prayer.  But it was his role in seasons 4 and 5 of The Bureau, created by Éric Rochant, which got his career off the ground. He went on to appear in Philippe Garrel’s The Salt of Tears, Thomas Kruithof’s Promises, and three episodes of the Lupin series, created by François Uzan and Georges Kay, with Omar Sy in the title role. In 2022, his role in François Ozon’s Peter Von Kant earned him a César nomination for Most Promising Actor. In 2024, he can be seen in Making Of by Cédric Kahn, in which he stars alongside Souheila Yacoub, Jonathan Cohen, and Denis Podalydès. He will soon be in The Quiet Son, by Delphine and Muriel Coulin, along with Benjamin Voisin and Vincent Lindon, as well as in Drone, by Simon Bouisson.

10 to Watch

Sofiane Zermani

The actor began his musical career in 2007, in the rap scene, where he quickly met with great success. A versatile artist, he took his first steps in theater in 2018 in The Great Gatsby, initially adapted for radio, then on stage. The same year, he appeared in David Oelhoffen’s Close Enemies, then, in 2019, in the series Savages, created by Rebecca Zlotowski and Sabri Louatah. He has pursued his career on the small screen in the series Algiers Confidential, by Frédéric Jardin, and Off Season, by Pierre Monnard, alongside Marina Hands. In 2023, he starred in the feature films Spirit of Ecstasy, by Héléna Klotz, and After the Fire, by Mehdi Fikri. He will next be seen in Hassan Guerrar’s Barbès d’or, Manele Labidi’s Queen Mom, and Dominique Baumard’s The French Job.

10 to Watch

Souheila Yacoub

Swiss-born Souheila Yacoub made her name as an Olympic gymnast before embarking on an acting career. She has worked with Rebecca Zlotowski (Savages), Philippe Garrel (The Salt of Tears), Alice Zeniter and Benoît Volnais (Before We Collapse), Cédric Klapisch (Rise), and Cédric Kahn (Making Of). Her outstanding performances in Climax, by Gaspar Noé, and The Braves, by Anaïs Volpé, earned her a nomination for the César Academy’s Revelations list.

In early 2024, she can be seen in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two, alongside Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. She will also soon appear in the feature films Planet B, by Aude Léa Rapin, starring Adèle Exarchopoulos, and The Balconettes, by Noémie Merlant, presented in the Midnight Screenings section at Cannes 2024. She also performs in season 2 of the mini-series No Man’s Land.

10 to Watch

Raphaël Quenard

After starting in theater and short films, Raphaël Quenard made his mark in 2018 in the Mental series, created by Angela Soupe and Sarah Santamaria-Mertens. He then went on to act in feature films, notably in Quentin Dupieux’s Mandibles. But it was thanks to Igor Gotesman’s series Family Business that he came to the attention of the general public. He went on to collaborate with Emma Benestan (Hard Shell, Soft Shell) and Michel Hazanavicius (Final Cut), among others.

In 2023, he appeared in no fewer than 11 productions, and moved into lead actor roles, notably in Junkyard Dog, by Jean-Baptiste Durand, for which he won a Lumières Award and a César Award for Best Male Revelation, or in Yannick, by Quentin Dupieux, which earned him a César nomination for Best Actor. He was also in Gold Brick, by Jérémie Rozan, and Sentinelle, by Hugo Benamozig and David Caviglioli. Moviegoers will next see him in Pourquoi tu souris? by Christine Paillard and Chad Chenouga, The Fantastic Three by Michaël Dichter, as well as in two Cannes films: The Second Act by Quentin Dupieux, which will open the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, and Beating Hearts, by Gilles Lellouche, presented in Competition.

10 to Watch

Iris Kaltenbäck

The actress grew up in France, with a French mother, an Austrian father, and an American stepbrother. After studying law and philosophy, she joined the film school La Fémis, in the Screenwriting Department, and collaborated with theatre director Declan Donnellan at the National Theatre Les Gémeaux. In 2015, he directed his first short film, Le vol des cigognes, which won the Next Generation International Audience Award at the Brussels Short Film Festival.

His first feature film, Le Ravissement, was selected for the Critics’ Week in 2023, where it received the SACD Award. The film was presented at numerous international festivals, including Zurich, Ghent, Morelia, São Paulo, Hamburg, etc., and won several awards, including the Special Jury Prize at Torino. In 2024, the film won the Lumières Prize for Best First Film. In France, Le Ravissement was very well received but also won the Louis-Delluc Prize and was nominated for the César for Best First Film.

10 to Watch


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Stéphan CastangCéleste BrunnquellSuzy BembaSofia AlaouiStefan CreponSofiane ZermaniIris KaltenbäckSouheila YacoubUniFranceRaphaël QuenardJean-Baptiste Durand

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