Worst Ones, The: Female Directed Feature Wins Big at Certain Regard Section (Cannes Film Fest 2022)

Vicky Krieps Wins Acting Award at Un Certain Regar

French Film 'The Worst Ones' Wins
Felix Vratny, courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
The little-heralded French entry The Worst Ones (Les Pires), debut feature from female directing duo Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret, earned the top prize, one of four first films to be recognized at the ceremony.

A playful film-within-a-film about the challenges and perils of street casting — following a film crew seeking out local non-professional actors for a shoot in a working-class French town — “The Worst Ones” surged past a number of buzzier critical favorites and hot distribution prospects to claim the award.

It’s the second consecutive female-directed feature to be named best in show. Last year’s Prix Un Certain Regard went to Russian director Kira Kovalenko’s coming-of-age drama Unclenching the Fists.

Socially conscious but mordantly comic, Akoka and Gueret’s film may also score the festival’s Camera d’Or award for first features, set to be presented at tomorrow’s closing night awards ceremony.

 

Bringing some star power to the winners list is Luxembourg actor Vicky Krieps (Hollywood films as “Old” and “Phantom Thread”), who shared Best Performance prize for her sly and sensual turn in Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage, an elegant postmodern look at the legendary Empress Elisabeth in Austria.

She also starred opposite the last Gaspard Ulliel in a second Un Certain Regard selection, the romantic melodrama “More Than Ever,” though the jury’s citation was for “Corsage” only.

Krieps shared the award with French rising star Adam Bessa, whose star turn in the Tunisian social drama Harka inspired Tahar Rahim comparisons from critics.

The runner-up Jury Prize went to another debut feature, the crowd favorite Joyland, the first Pakistani film ever to screen at the festival.

Director Saim Sadiq’s tender-hearted, luminously shot queer drama follows the burgeoning relationship between a married man and a transgender exotic dancer in working-class Lahore, and prompted a rapturous standing ovation at its premiere earlier this week. Many were tipping it to take the top prize, given its combination of popular appeal and history-making background; it, too, enters as a strong Camera d’Or contender.

Another first fiction feature is the Romanian entry Metronom. A youth-focused political drama set against the Communist regime of the 1970s, it took the Best Director award for Alexandru Belc, a former docmaker with experience as AD and script supervisor on such Romanian New Wave milestones as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Police Adjective.

French talent Lola Quivoron took the jury’s special “Coup de Coeur” Award (translating as a blow to the heart, or besotted crush) for her narrative debut “Rodeo,” a propulsive, flashily shot portrait of a reckless young woman joining a motorcycle gang.

Palestinian-Israeli filmmaker Maha Haj earned Best Screenplay for her sophomore feature Mediterranean fever, a parable of modern ennui and Palestinian-Israeli tensions in Haifa suburb.

Jury president was Italian actor-filmmaker Golino, supported by Oscar-nominated American director Debra Granik, French musician Benjamin Biolay and actors Joanna Kulig and Edgar Ramirez.

— were Davy Chou’s buzzy Sony Pictures Classics acquisition “Return to Seoul,” Riley Keough’s co-directing debut “War Pony,” Agnieszka Smoczynska’s Letitia Wright-starring tearjerker “The Silent Twins” and Hlynur Palmason’s austere, visually ravishing religious drama Godland, which drew ecstatic reviews.

Golino stressed the difficulty of winnowing down the competition, describing this year’s selection as “a tour-de-force of talent” and commending the filmmakers for their “bravery in looking at survival and existence, in the present and past, in ways that cannot be ignored.”

“We want to see more work from all these artists, but declined to offer specific motivation behind each prize. “We could give you many boring specifics, but the films speak for themselves, and we don’t want to diminish them by giving reasons. We just want you to watch them, on the big screen.”

Prix Un Certain Regard: 

“The Worst Ones,” Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret

Jury Prize: “Joyland,” Saim Sadiq

Best Director: Alexandru Belc, “Metronom”

Best Performance: Vicky Krieps, “Corsage” and Adam Bessa, “Harka”

Best Screenplay: Maha Haj, “Mediterranean Fever”

Coup de Coeur Award: “Rodeo,” Lola Quivoron