Poots and Eisenberg head Cannes Critics’ Week

Seven titles compete for jury prizes

by Richard Mowe

Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots in Lorcan Finnegan’s science fiction film Vivarium
Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots in Lorcan Finnegan’s science fiction film Vivarium Photo: Screen Ireland

Always one of the most eclectic of the Cannes Film Festival’s many sidebar sections the Critics’ Week in its 58th edition can lay claim to being the oldest which this year springs a selection of 11 features as well as shorts from a wide range of countries.

Ligante, the second film by the Colombian director Franco Lolli (who made Gente De Bien in 2014) will open the Week on 15 May - a story of a woman coping with difficult and urgent situations in her professional, family and personal life.

Among the seven films in Competition are Moroccan director Alaa Eddine Aljem’s The Unknown Saint which updates the canons of westerns and popular beliefs.

Vivarium, the second film by the Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan, immerses viewers in a supernatural encounter when a young couple’s life is turned upside-down as they find themselves trapped. The duo are played by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg.

After his first feature hit, Winter Brothers, the Icelandic director Hlynur Pálmason is back with A White White Day. After his wife’s sudden fatal accident, a man must face her death and suspects she had been unfaithful. Wracked with doubt and hungry for revenge, he browbeats his loved ones in a rage as wild as it is life-affirming.

The one French film in competition this year is Jérémy Clapin’s return to La Semaine de la Critique after his animation short Skhizein which competed in 2008. In I Lost My Body, his first feature, a young man’s severed hand escapes, intent on finding its body. Blending rhythms and tones, frantic life and reflective gentleness, Jérémy Clapin’s film is described as “a thoroughly modern animation film”.

Guatemalan director César Díaz, revisits a tragic moment in his country’s history in Nuestras Madres, which explores the tragedy of the people who went missing during the military dictatorship. He tells this story through a young man who helps women find and identify their missing relatives while he is looking for his father.

Cannes Critics’ Week poster
Cannes Critics’ Week poster Photo: La Semaine de la Critique
The first film by the Algerian filmmaker Amin Sidi-Boumédienne, About Leila takes place against the backdrop of the dark years of the civil war which tore the country apart in the mid 90s.

Costa Rican director Sofía Quirós Ubeda whose short Selva was shown in the Week two years ago, is back with her first feature Land Of Ashes in which a teenager brought up in the countryside by her grandparents discovers what life is as they are about to die.

Among the Special Screenings, French filmmaker Aude Léa Rapin offers her first feature Heroes Don’t Die, in which Jonathan Couzinié plays a young man living as somebody else’s reincarnation. The newcomer plays alongside Adèle Haenel while actress Hafsia Herzi (discovered in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Couscous) makes her directorial debut with Tu mérites un amour in which she also appears in a tale that “touches on the universal truth of a woman looking for love.”

The closing film on 23 May, Dwelling In The Fuchun Mountains, is the first part of a planned trilogy by a young Chinese film-maker Gu Xiaogang, who describes the fate of a family according to nature, shifting seasons and the living river.

The Critics’ Week selectors watched 1,050 features from which they made their selection of 11 titles of which eight are first and three are second films. The shorts were chosen from 1,605 submissions.

As previously announced, Ciro Guerra, whose Embrace Of The Serpent was nominated for a best foreign-language Oscar in 2015, serves as jury president, along with French-British actress Amira Casar, Danish producer Marianne Slot, Belgian-Congolese journalist Dija Mambu and Italian director Jonas Carpignano, whose Mediterranea screened in the sidebar in 2015

Opening Film Litigante by Franco Lolli (second film)

Closing Film Dwelling In The Fuchun Mountains / Chun jiang shui nuan by Xiaogang Gu (first film)

Compétition - Features

  • Abou Leila by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène (first film)
  • Land Of Ashes/Ceniza Negra by Sofía Quirós Ubeda (first film)
  • A White, White Day/Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur by Hlynur Pálmason (second film)
  • I Lost My Body/J’ai Perdu Mon Corps by Jérémy Clapin (first film)
  • Our Mothers/Nuestras Madres by César Díaz (first film)
  • The Unknown Saint/Le Miracle Du Saint Inconnu by Alaa Eddine Aljem (first film)
  • Vivarium by Lorcan Finnegan (second film)

Special Screenings (feature films)

  • Heroes Don’t Die/Les Héros Ne Meurent Jamais by Aude Léa Rapin (first film)
  • You Deserve a Love/Tu Mérites Un Amour by Hafsia Herzi (first film)

Competition - Shorts

  • Party Day/Dia De Festa by Sofia Bost
  • The Trap/Fakt by Nada Riyadh
  • Ikki illa meint by Andrias Høgenni
  • Journey Through a Body by Camille Degeye
  • Community Gardens/Kolektyvinai Sodai by Vytautas Katkus
  • Lucía En A Limbo by Valentina Maurel
  • The Manila Lover by Johanna Pyykkö
  • Tuesday From 8 To 6/ Mardi De 8 à 18 by Cecilia de Arce
  • She Runs by Qiu Yang
  • The Last Trip To The Seaside /Ultimul Drum Spre Mare by Adi Voicu

Short Films Special Screenings (1)

  • Demonic by Pia Borg
  • Naptha by Moin Hussain
  • Please Speak Continuously And Describe Your Experiences As They Come To You by Brandon Cronenberg

Short Films Special Screenings (2)

  • Invisible Hero/Invisível Herói by Cristèle Alves Meira
  • Tenzo by Katsuya Tomita

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