Cannes Film Fest 2016: Dominated by Women, though No US Directors

The Critics’ Week at this year’s Cannes Film Fest, dedicated to first and second films, will show European productions and discoveries from Turkey, Lebanon, Cambodia and Singapore.

The 55th edition of Critics’ Week will kick off on May 12 with Justine Triet’s “In Bed With Victoria,” a light-hearted modern comedy about a young single mother (played by Virginie Efira) trying to find the balance between career and love life.

Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson said this sophomore offering from the Cesar-nominated director of “Age of Panic” (which opened in Cannes’ ACID sidebar in 2013) aimed to shake up the sidebar, marking a change in tone from the typically serious-minded movies that constitute the rest of the section.

The Critics’ Week committee received 1,100 feature-length submissions, out of which it chose ten, which include six feature debuts and four sophomore outings.

The absence of US features at Critics’ Week (after last year’s four entries) is noticeable. Tesson said he was disappointed with Sundance Fest: “After launching films such as ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘It Follows,’ it’s possible that we’ve raised the bar too high for American movies, and we were more inspired by movies coming from France, Southern Europe, Asia and the Middle-East that allow us to explore uncharted territories.”

The selection contains films that about current issues in original ways. Mehmet Can Mertoglu’s “Album” is about prejudice in Turkey, Vatche Boulghourjian’s “Tramontane” about a blind man on the trail of his origins in post-war Lebanon, and Kesavada Rajagopal’s “Yellow Bird,” an unusual portrait of Singapore torn by conflicts between Chinese and Indian communities.

Tesson said the French directors of this year’s Gallic lineup — notably Julia Ducournau with “Raw,” Jean-Christophe Meurisse with “Apnee” and Justine Triet with “In Bed with Victoria” — are bold and innovative in their own ways.

“Apnee” is an omnibus feature laced with surreal, ferocious humor looking at contemporary French society.

Closing night will consist of three short films from actresses making directorial debuts: Sandrine Kiberlain’s “Smile,” Laetitia Casta’s “En moi” and Chloe Sevigny’s “Kitty.” Sevigny is the lone American in a lineup dominated by female talent.

According to Tesson, “All three shorts work well together as if they dialogued with each other,’ sharing the themes of acting, womanhood and transformation.

The competition boasts just one other distaff-directed feature, the cannibalism-themed “Raw” from French helmer Julia Ducournau, who won a Critics’ Week prize for her short “Junior” in 2011. Her latest centers on a 16-year-old (Garance Marillier) who makes a radical break from her family’s vegetarian ways after sampling flesh during her first day at veterinary school.

A symbol of its 50+5 edition, Critics’ Week will play the shorts of two filmmakers who were discovered at the Cannes sidebar: Cesar Agusto Acevedo with “Los Pasos de agua” and Nadav Lapid with “From the Diary of a Wedding Photographer.”




OPENER: “In Bed with Victoria” (Justine Triet, France).Second film.

“Happy Times Will Come Soon” (Alessandro Comodin, Italy). First film.

“Apnee” (Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Turkey). First film.


“Album” (Mehmet Can Mertoglu, Turkey). First film.

“Diamond Island” (Davy Chou, Cambodia-France).Second film.

“Raw” (Julia Ducournau, France). First film

“Mimosas” (Oliver Laxe, Spain). Second film.

“One Week and a Day” (Asaph Polonsky, Israel). First film.

“Tramontane” (Vatche Boulghourjian, Lebanon). First film.

“A Yellow Bird” (K. Rajagopal, Singapore). First film.