Latin American Cinema: Cannes Film Fest

Michel Franco’s study of violence in Mexican society, “After Lucia,” won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Un Certain Regard Jury Prize went to France’s Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern’s “Le Grand Soir.”

Belgian’s Emilie Dequenne and Canada’s Suzanne Clement shared best actress for their perfs in “Our Children” and “Laurence Anyways” respectively. “Children of Sarajevo,” from Bosnia’s Aida Begic, took a special distinction.

The Un Certain Regard jury, led by president-actor Tim Roth, highlighted four major titles that had drawn some of the biggest buzz.

Following his debut “Ana and Daniela,” Franco’s “After Lucia” also shows a step-up in scale and ambition shared by “Sarajevo” and “Laurence” and other Un Certain Regard standouts such as Argetinean Pablo Trapero’s “White Elephant” and Moroccan Nabil Ayouch’s “Horses of God.”

With Chilean Pablo Larrain’s “No” receiving the biggest award in Directors’ Fortnight, it also marks the second Latin American film in a row to win a major section at Cannes. Even Critics’ Week winner “Aqui y alla,” though directed by Antonio Mendez Esparza, was set in a Mexican village.

“There an enormous number of vibrant Latin American filmmakers now coming out of Latin America,” Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux said after the Un Certain Regard awards ceremony.

Produced by Franco’s label Pop Films and Mexican Lemon Films and Filmadora Nacional, “Lucia” chronicles the increasingly drastic consequences of a girl’s being bullied at high-school.

“In Mexico, we’re going into some sort of civil war now so it’s not surprising I ended up writing something like this,” Franco commented.

“Le Grand soir” marks a return to form for French comic duo Delepine and Kervern (“Louise-Michel”), in a piece of banter-laden farce, in which Belgian’s Benoit Poelvoorde plays a middle-aged punk and Albert Dupontel his emotionally buttoned but increasingly disaffected laid-off sibling.

In “Our Children,” a breakthrough for Belgian director Joachim Lafosse, Emilie Dequenne carries the second half of proceedings as a young mother-of-four overwhelmed to the point of horrifying tragedy by multiple circumstances.

Clement plays a straight woman embroiled in a roller-coaster love affair with a male-to-female transsexual in “Laurence Anyways,” Xavier Dolan’s gorgeously-lensed ’90s-set meller