PARIS — Elie Wajeman’s “The Anarchists,” a period drama starring Tahar Rahim (“The Past”) and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”), is set to world premiere on opening night of Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival, anchoring a strongly French-flavored lineup of first and second features.

Set in 1899 Paris, “The Anarchists” (pictured above) centers on a cop who infiltrates a network of anarchists and unexpectedly develops a sincere attachment for the group. It’s Wajeman’s follow-up to his 2012 debut film, “Aliyah,” which played in Directors’ Fortnight, the festival’s other parallel program.

In addition to “The Anarchists,” Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson selected two French films — Louis Garrel’s “Les deux amis” and Mathieu Vadepied’s “La Vie en grand” — for the Special Screenings section.

“La Vie en grand” marks the feature film debut of Vadepied, who has worked as cinematographer on Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s “The Intouchables” and Jacques Audiard’s “Read My Lips,” among other films. Vadepied’s comedy, produced by Toledano and Nakache, follows children growing up in the projects, where they juggle the pressures of school and street life. Tesson said the film “will let a wind of tenderness and freshness swirl through Critics’ Week.”

“Les deux amis,” the directorial debut of thesp Garrel (“Saint Laurent”), stars Golshifteh Farahani, Garrel himself, and up-and-comer Vincent Macaigne.

France will also be repped in the Critics’ Week competition with Clement Cogitore’s “Ni le ciel, ni la terre.” Previously titled “Le Front du Wakhan,” Cogitore’s movie is a contemporary war drama set in Afghanistan. The film was presented, along with Grimur Hakonarson’s Un Certain Regard-bound “Rams,” at Les Arcs’ co-production village in 2013. “Ni le ciel, ni la terre” stars Jeremie Renier and Kevin Azais, who won this years’ newcomer Cesar award for his performance in “Love at First Fight.”

A pair of debut films will represent North America in competition. U.S. helmer Trey Edward Shults’ “Krisha,” a tense family drama that won the grand jury prize and the audience award at SXSW, will make its international bow, while Canadian director Andrew Cividino will bring “Sleeping Giant,” a coming-of-age tale about three teenagers who are having a vacation by a lakeside.

Critics’ Week will also play Arab and Tarzan Abunasser’s directorial debut, “Degraded,” a Palestinian comedy (with Hiam Abbas) about women crammed in a tiny beauty parlor on the Gaza Strip; and Jonas Carpignano’s “Mediterranea,” the American-Italian helmer’s follow-up to his short film “A Cambria,” which won last year’s Critics’ Week prize. “Mediterranea” follows the journey of two African imigrants who arrive in Italy.

While Latin American cinema is not particularly well represented in the official selection, Critics’ Week will unspool two films from the region: “Paulina,”  Argentine helmer Santiago Mitre’s follow-up to his acclaimed “The Student” (2011), and “La tierra y la sombra,” a first feature from Colombian filmmaker Carlos Acevedo.

Sold by Versatile Films, and produced by Argentina’s La Union de los Rios, Paris-based Full House, Walter Salles’ VideoFilmes and Telefonica Studios, “Paulina” centers on a woman lawyer (Dolores Fonzi, “La Aura”) in a humble neighborhood who is brutally attacked, but refuses to give up on her social work. A slice-of-life family drama set on a blighted sugarcane plantation, “Tierra” portrays a rural way of life condemned to extinction. Burning Blue’s Diana Bustamante (“Crab Trap,” “Refugiado”) produces.

The Critics’ Week has also added another Special Screening: “Coin Locker Girl,” from South Korea’s Han Jun-hee, about a girl raised by a Chinatown loan shark but who, as a teen, discovers a world beyond its servitude. Produced by Pollux Pictures, “Coin Locker Girl” is sold by CJ Entertainment.

As many as 1,100 feature films were watched by Tesson and his team in order to come up with the final 10 movies. The Critics’ Week’s jury will be presided by Israeli actress and director Ronit Elkabetz (“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”).

The Critics’ Week program runs May 14-22.



OPENER: “The Anarchists” (Elie Wajeman, France). Second film.

“Les deux amis” (Louis Garrel, France). First film.

CLOSER: “La Vie en grand” (Mathieu Vadepied, France). First film.


“Degrade” (Arab and Tarzan Abunasser, Palestine). First film.

“Krisha” (Trey Edward Shults, U.S.). First film.

“Mediterranea” (Jonas Carpignano, Germany-U.S.-U.K.-Italy-France). First film.

“Ni le ciel, ni la terre” (Clement Cogitore, France). First film.

“Paulina” (Santiago Mitre, Argentina-Brazil-France). Second film.

“Sleeping Giant” (Andrew Cidivino, Canada). First film.

“La tierra y la sombra” (Cesar Acevedo, Colombia-Netherlands-Chile-Brazil). First film.