Among the 40 films are Argentinan Mariano Llinas' 14-hour long La Flor, jury member Mahmet Salah-Haroun's A Screaming Man, from 2010, and late Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's Ten from 2002.
Older documentaries and shorts have won a place in this 40 Films edition, some from Algeria, Brazil or Democratic Republic of Congo to name a few.
The Taipei Stories, a Taiwanese-specific film focus this year, harks back to the festival's beginnings and director Tsai Ming-Lian is one of the special guests with his 1994 Long Live Love.
3 Continents Festival artistic director, Jerome Baron, co-author of the book of essays, D'autres Continents-Mouvances du Cinéma Présent, says that "in digital times cinema has undergone deep changes." It's another good reason, he says, to revisit some of the films which have marked the festival.
Nine films (see list below) are competing this year for the gold and silver ballon trophies to be awarded on 27 November. Their individual geographicial mix can be mind-blowing.
Take for example José, directed by US-based Chinese director Cheng Li who shot his film in Guatemala, in Spanish.
The first film screened after Tuesday's openening was Temporada, by Brazilian André Novais Oliveir. It has a gentle narrative with an empowering ending.
The main protagonist fights on many fronts. Juliana is a woman, a migrant worker, and of black origin. The action is spurred on by women characters in the opening ceremony film, Birds of Passage, directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra from Colombia.
Women-power vying for equality the film industry is being underlined at every occasion.
Seven women on stage added poignancy to the festival's opening. The chair of the society which runs the festival, Anne-Laure Josephine, declared the event open, and stepped back to allow long speeches from some of the highest ranking local politicians, all women, including the Mayor of the city of Nantes, Johanna Rolland.
The women on stage all made a case for the 3 Continents' worth as a partly publically-funded culture event. It nurtures and exposes films from Africa, Asia and Latin America for all generations, they said, bringing other cultures far from their own. They cited the importance of maintaining cultural diversity in France and elsewhere, and stressed the need, in times of narrowing minds and tightening borders, to keep their politicial landscape and vision open.
Films in competition at the 40th 3 Continents Festival in Nantes:
- A Land Imagined - Yeo Siew Hua - Singapore
- The Dive/Hatzlila - Yona Rozenkier - Israel
- Faust - Andrea Bussman - Canada/Mexico
- José - Cheng Li - Guatemala
- Manta Ray - Phuttiphong Aroonpheng - Thailand
- Memories of My Body/Kukumbu Tubuh Indahku - Garin Nugroho - Indonesia
- Temporada/Long Way Home - André Novais Oliveira - Brazil
- Three Adventures of Brooke/Xingxide San Ci Qi Yu - China/Malaysia
- Winter's Night /Gyeo Wul Ba Me - Jang Woo-jin - South Korea