While the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival was announced yesterday, Critics Week, the strand dedicated to first and second films which traditionally runs parallel to the fest, has unveiled the titles that will get the “2020 Semaine de la Critique” label.
Critics Week was canceled along with with Directors Fortnight and ACID in April due to the coronavirus crisis, but the strand’s artistic director Charles Tesson and his committee went ahead and selected five movies and 10 shorts that will receive a label.
As with Cannes’ Official Selection, the roster of this year’s Critics’ Week boasts a strong French presence with four local-language films out of the five. These are Anna Cazenave Cambet’s “Gold For Dogs,” Just Philippot’s “The Swarm,” Chloé Mazlo’s “Skies of Lebanon” and Naël Marandin’s “Beasts.” Aleem Khan’s U.K. film “After Love” rounds up the pack.
Tesson said the strand will be collaborating with the Angouleme film fest, as well as exhibitors and the French cinematheque during the next few months to turn the spotlight on these emerging filmmakers in the absence of a physical festival.
The “tailored-made” support program crafted by Critics’ Week will include local world premieres for the labeled French films during the Angouleme festival under a section called “La Semaine de la Critique carte blanche.” Angouleme will run Aug. 28- Sept. 2.
Sold by Wild Bunch, “The Swarm” is a genre film following a single mother of two who starts breeding locusts to save her farm from bankruptcy. On top of its well-identified genre dimension inspired by “The Birds,” “The Swarm” depicts “an equally worrisome social reality rooted in our economic system: the overproduction rat-race … which turns our daily routine into a terrifying nightmare,” said Tesson.
“Gold For Dogs” tells the story of Esther, a young woman from Southern France who travels to Paris on the trail of a lover. WTFilms is selling the film which Tesson described as “luminous, with its share of night and shadows.
“Skies of Lebanon” stars Alba Rohrwacher as a young Swiss woman who falls in love with a Lebanese man during the war in 1975. Sold by Charades, “Skies of Lebanon” weaves animation and live action. Tesson said the film was both poetic and political, and told a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching love story.
“After Love,” a British feature debut from British-Pakistanese helmer Aleem Khan, follows the journey of a 62-year-old muslim convert who suffers an identity crisis after the death of her husband. The film stars Joanna Scanlan and Nathalie Richard. The Bureau is handling sales.
“Beasts,” Nael Marandin’s second film, tells the story of Constance, a young woman fighting to rescue her family farm from bankrupcy and struggles to be respected in a male-dominated environment as she negotiate with powerful farm operators. The film is headlined by a strong French cast, including Diane Rouxel, Jalil Lespert, Olivier Gourmet and Finnegan Oldfied.
Although there won’t be a competition or a jury, the org Gan Foundation for Cinema, one of the strand’s key sponsors, will give out an award for one of the labeled films in the fall. The cash prize of €20,000 will be given to the distributor of the film.
Meanwhile, the 10 shorts of the non-competitive support programme will be screened for industry execs on the platform FestivalScope Pro between Oct. 19-25 and for a larger audience on FestivalScope starting on Oct. 22. The labeled shorts will also play at the Czech Cinematheque and in New York City in collaboration with Kinoscope.