Reims Polar, a new international festival set in Northern France and dedicated to police thrillers, has awarded Wen Shipei’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” Adikhan Yerzhanov’s “Assault” and Lado Kvataniya’s “The Execution.”
The selection of Reims Polar is curated by Bruno Barde, who is also the artistic director of the Deauville American Film Festival.
“Assault,” a dead-pan thriller set fictional village in rural Kazakhstan and revolving around a school hostage situation, won the festival’s Grand Prize Award. Yerzhanov, a prolific Kazakh director, previously directed “The Gentle Indifference of the World” which played at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2018.
The Reims Polar jury prize went to a pair of feature debuts, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” a Chinese film which world premiered out of competition at last year’s Cannes, and Russian filmmaker Lado Kvataniya’s “The Execution,” a thriller inspired by the case of an infamous Soviet-era serial killer. The Jokers Films is distributing “The Execution” in France.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” follows a young man who believes he has caused a fatal accident and develops an ambiguous relationship with the dead man’s widow. ARP Sélection is handling the French release.
This year’s jury was presided over by Niels Arestrup and comprised of Véronique Cayla, Hélène Fillières, Sébastien Marnier, Géraldine Pailhas and Florent-Emilio Siri.
The Audience Award went to Lithuanian filmmaker Emilis Velyvis’s “The Generation of Evil.” The movie follows Gintas, a retiring chief of police in an idyllic provincial town whose perfect life unravels after he announces his candidacy for the post of the town’s mayor. Velyvis’s credits include “Zero 3” which won several prizes at the Lithuanian Film Awards.
The Sang Neuf jury, meanwhile, was presided over by Marie Drucker and comprised of Santiago Amigorena, Abdel Raouf Dafri and Audrey Gloaguen. Guatemalan helmer Justin Lerner’s “Cadejo Blanco” won the Sang Neuf Award, while Zhang Ji’s romantic policier “Fire on the Plain” picked up the the Sang Neuf youth prize of the Northeast Region. The movie marks the directorial debut of Zhang, who is also a cinematographer.
The festival also paid tribute to several high-profile actors, directors and producers, including Martin Campbell, the New Zealand-born helmer who’s best known for revamping the James Bond franchise with “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale;” as well as Walter Hill, whose career spans more than 40 years and includes “The Long Riders,” “48 Hrs.” and the Primetime Emmy-winning mini-series “Broken Trail;” and Vincent Lindon, the beloved and multi-faceted French actor of Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or winning “Titane,” Claire Denis “Both Sides of the Blade” which won the Silver Bear in Berlin, as well as Stephane Brizé’s “The Measure of a Man” for which Lindon won the best actor prize at Cannes. Denis was on hand in Reims, along with Veronique Cayla, to hand out the honorary award to Lindon, whom she directed in three films.
Appeared on stage both emotional and solemn, Lindon hinted to the current political turmoil and read the lyrical and eerily timely speech that Albert Camus made when he received the Nobel Prize in 1957. He also said “culture is the only thing that will survive through the end of time and the only thing that keeps us going, besides the love of our close ones.”
Last year’s inaugural edition of Reims Polar took place online and gave its big award to Saeed Roustayi’s “Just 6.5.”