I know it can feel overwhelming to look at a program and try to select films that involve unknown directors, actors, and writers so here are a few that stood out to me (and there's your giant grain of salt):
Fear and Desire by Stanley Kubrick (yeah that Stanley Kubrick): A largely unseen first film that Kubrick made when he was 24. Even if it is an imperfect mess, I feel like it would be great piece of cinema history to see with an audience.
5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi: A documentary collaboration between Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi addressing land appropriation, settlements, and family.
Hemel by Sacha Polak: Referred to by some as the female "Shame" it is a film about a sexually aggressive woman and her sexual addiction. I saw a clip of this and the lead actress is really compelling.
How to Survive a Plague by David France: A documentary about the AIDS epidemic and the political movement sprung from it in the 1980's with a particular focus on the groups in New York.
The Minister (L'Exercise de l'Etat) by Pierre Schöller: A political thriller about corruption and politicians abandoning their principles to achieve their goals. Co-Produced by the Dardenne Brothers and starring Olivier Gourmet.
Omar Killed Me (Omar m'a tuer) by Roschdy Zem: Actor turned director Zem (a favorite of mine in a little wacky comedy called Ma Petite Enterprise) investigates the 1991 killing of a wealthy widow in the South of France and focuses on her Moroccan gardener who was convicted of the crime. A journalist believed in the gardener's innocence and goes to work to prove it.
Oslo, August 31st by Joachim Trier: A recovering drug addict tries to adjust to life outside of rehab. I saw a clip of this and I happen to love Nordic films. From the clip I saw this is more humorous than the description suggests. I saw this director's first feature Reprise and he is interested in contemporary, hip cinema. It just happens to have subtitles.
The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar, Antoine Delevaux: A wacky animated film about a cat which eats a parakeet and starts speaking. The cat expresses a desire to have a bar mitzvah. Apparently appropriate for family audiences.
Romance Joe by Lee Kwang-kuk: I have liked some Korean films and their complex narratives so this description appealed to me.
It's worth perusing the website and see if any titles jump out at you. The festival starts today! Bon cinema!