PARIS – The Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, the parallel section dedicated to first and second films, will open this year with “Sicilian Ghost Story” from Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza, the Italian directing duo whose debut, “Salvo,” won the Grand Prize in 2013.
Speaking to Variety, Critics’ Week’s topper Charles Tesson described the film as a “Romeo and Juliet” tale set against the contemporary backdrop of the Sicilian mafia world. The film weaves together teen drama, crime thriller and supernatural elements, Tesson said.
“Sicilian Ghost Story” follows a young woman who refuses to cope with the disappearance of her lover and, guided by her visions, strives to break the prevailing omerta code of silence.
Echoing Cannes’ official selection, the lineup of this 56th edition of Critics’ Week will have a definite political edge.
One of the most politically charged works to compete at Critics’ Week is an animated feature, Ali Soozandeh’s “Tehran Taboo,” which delivers an uncompromising snapshot of life in Teheran, a city where basic civil liberties are banned, corruption is rampant and women are oppressed.
Another rare choice for Critics’ Week is Emmanuel Gras’ documentary feature “Makala,” which follows the life of a family man in Congo.
Critics’ Week, whose previous edition saw Julia Ducournau make waves with “Raw,” will also showcase the feature debut of another French helmer, Léa Mysius, whose film “Ava” charts the summer of a teenager, played by up-and-coming actress Noée Abita, who learns how to contain her personal demons, take up challenges and find love.
Through the tale of this young girl, “Ava” says something about a generation facing the fear of a bleak future, said Tesson.
Other films set to compete include Gustavo Rondón Córdova’s “La Familia,” about a father and his estranged son wandering across Caracas after fleeing their dangerous suburb; Marcela Said’s (“The Summer of Flying Fish”) “Los Perros,” about the consequences of the Pinochet dictatorship on Chilean society and the prevailing hypocrisy; Atsuko Hiranayagi’s “Oh Lucy!”, a bittersweet comedy about three Japanese women, an American friend and a Japanese one embarking on a trip between Japan and the U.S. The movie toplines Josh Hartnett and Yakujo Kôji (“The Eel by Imamura”). Also competing is Brazilian director Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa’s “Gabriel and the Mountain,” which captures a young idealist’s journey to Africa.
Critics’ Week will close with Dave McCary’s heartfelt comedy “Brigsby Bear,” which world premiered at Sundance and was described by Tesson as a light and tender homage to cinema. The film toplines “Star Wars'” Mark Hamill as a father who has given his son a crippling love for film which can only be cured by making movies. Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at Sundance, “Brigsby Bear” toplines Kyle Mooney, a regular cast member of “Saturday Night Live” who also co-wrote the movie with Kevin Costello.
Along with “Sicilian Ghost Story,” Hubert Charuel’s “Bloody Milk,” a genre-bender set in a French farming community, and Thierry de Peretti’s “A Violent Life,” an ultra-realistic film about the political radicalization of a man in Corsica, will get special screenings at Critics’ Week.
Tesson said both “Bloody Milk,” which he described as a Hitchcockian thriller set in the farming world, and “A Violent Life” started off with a documentary-like realism and drifted towards genre.