PARIS — David Lowery’s Sundance-preemed “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” toplining Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as outlaw lovers, will fly the lone American flag at the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week sidebar, whose Euro-heavy lineup was unveiled on Monday in Paris.

Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson told Variety that he and his committee chose to give the Texas-set Western a special screening rather than a competition slot to shine a spotlight on the pic. “We want to play ‘Saints’ over the weekend so that people who can only see a couple of films get a chance to catch this one.”

The positioning of “Saints” may also be due to the fact that it’s Lowery’s third feature (after “St. Nick” and “Lullaby”) — the sidebar’s competition roster is dedicated to first and second films.

The 10-pic sidebar will kick off May 16 with a special screening of Katell Quillevere’s romance-laced drama “Suzanne,” starring Sara Forestier (“The Names of Love”), centering on a young woman’s relationships with her sister and widowed father.

Yann Gonzales’ “Rencontre d’apres minuit,” starring Eric Cantona (“Looking for Eric”) and Beatrice Dalle, rounds out the special screenings selection.

Tesson and his committee sifted through 1,209 films, on par with last year, and came up with a competition slate of five feature debuts and two sophomore pics.

The first-time films are “Los duenos,” a social satire from Argentina’s Agustin Toscano and Ezequiel Radusky; “Lunchbox,” a romantic comedy from Indian director Ritesh Batra; Italian directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s Mafia thriller “Salvo”; Gallic helmer David Perrault’s “Nos heros sont morts ce soir,” an homage to Quentin Tarantino and pre-French New Wave crime pics; and British helmer Paul Wright’s Ireland-set survival thriller “For Those in Peril,” the sole English-lingo feature to make the competition cut.

The two sophomore pics are Russian helmer Yury Bykov’s crime thriller “The Major” and Quebec director Sebastien Pilote’s “Le Demantelement.”

While “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is the only American film in the lineup, Tesson noted the revival of U.S. independent cinema, notably at Sundance, where “Saints” d.p. Bradford Young won a cinematography prize (shared with his work on “Mother of George”).

“The offer of U.S. films is much richer than it was last year,” Tesson told Variety, revealing that he almost took another Sundance title but opted not to in the end.

While Cannes’ official selection boasts a fairly large Asian presence, Critics’ Week will play none. “Within the new generation of directors we identified in China, Korea and Japan, we haven’t found filmmakers who are really innovating. But that could change from one year to another, as it’s been the case with Mexican cinema,” Tesson said.

He added that the selection was made in “entente cordiale” with Cannes fest topper Thierry Fremaux and Directors’ Fortnight a.d. Edouard Waintrop. “The three of us love soccer so we got a bit physical while debating, but we respect each other so we played by the rules,” Tesson quipped.



  • “For Those in Peril” (Paul Wright)
  • “Le Demantlement” (Sebastien Pilote)
  • “Los duenos” (Agustin Toscano, Ezequiel Radusky)
  • “Lunchbox” (Ritesh Batra)
  • “The Major” (Yuri Bykov)
  • “Nos heros sont morts ce soir” (David Perrault)
  • “Salvo” (Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza)


  • OPENER: “Suzanne” (Katell Quillevere)
  • “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” (David Lowery)
  • “Rencontre d’apres minuit” (Yann Gonzales)