Darker Than Midnight: Italian Sebastiano Riso’s Tale of a Runnaway

Darker Than Midnight

After showcasing “Salvo” last year, Critics’ Week again sampled Italy’s new generation of filmmakers with Sebastiano Riso’s “Darker Than Midnight,” a drama about a 14-year-old.

After running away from home, the boy takes refuge in a park in Catania, where he starts living among the marginalized.

Gente de bien

Latin America will be represented at the 2017 Critics Weeek by Colombian first-timer Franco Lolli’s Cali-set family drama “Gente de bien.”

The script, which he penned at Cannes’ Cinefondation Residence, centers on a 10-year-old boy who is abandoned by his mother and finds himself living with his father, a modest handyman who works for an upper-class household.

“Gente de bien” was reminiscent of “I Was Born, But…” by Yasujirō Ozu in its portrayal of a young boy discovering social inequality.

Lolli, who graduated from France’s prestigious school La Femis, had his second short, “Rodri” play in Directors’ Fortnight in 2012.

Self-Made from Israel

“Self Made,” the anticipated comeback of Israeli filmmaker Shira Geffen, whose “Jellyfish” premiered in Critics’ Week in 2007 and won the Camera d’Or for best first film in the entire festival.

Shot in Hebrew and Arabic, “Self Made” (previously titled “A Screw”) turns on two women — one Israeli, one Palestinian — who accidentally swap lives on the opposite side of the border without anyone noticing.

“Self Made’ has a soft burlesque tone and an offbeat humor–a bit like an Elia Suleiman film.

The Tribe
Ukranian helmer Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s “The Tribe” and French director Boris Lojkine’s “Hope” round out the competition.

Set in the Sahara desert, “Hope” follows the journey of a young man from Cameroon who rescues a Nigerian woman and falls in love with her. The film, which was shot in French, English and Beninese, marks the fiction debut of Lojkine, who previously helmed two documentaries, “Les ames errantes” and “Ceux qui restent.”

“The Tribe” turns on a deaf-mute teenager who enters a specialized boarding school, where he becomes part of a wild organization.

Slaboshpytskiy’s previous short, “Nuclear Waste,” won a prize in Locarno.
The Kindergarten Teacher

Set to receive special screenings are actress-turned-director Melanie Laurent’s “Breathe” and Israeli helmer Nadav Lapid’s “The Kindergarten Teacher,” which centers on an educator who discovers a child poet and takes him under her wing.

“This film can be interpretated as parable of Israel, which today seems split between the business and military worlds with little room left for poetry,” said Tesson.

The film represents Lapid’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, “Policeman,” which won prizes at Locarno, Jerusalem and Stockholm fests.

“Breathe,” described as a personal film for Laurent, depicts the destructive friendship between two teenage girls, played by up-and-coming thesps Lou de Laage and Josephine Japy. “This film strikes a chord because it’s a modest, simple film that’s driven by truly genuine performances,” said Tesson.

Making Love

Critics’ Week will kick off with “Making Love,” Haitian helmer Djinn Carrenard’s follow-up to his micro-budgeted “Donoma.” The love-triangle drama turns on a young musician who is in a loveless relationship with a woman who wants to have a baby.
Unexpectedly, he falls in love with his girlfriend’s sister, a young prison inmate, on leave for a week to spend Christmas with her young daughter.
This film illustrates the talent of France’s young generation of filmmakers, saying something meaningful about the challenges that 30 year-olds face today, coping with work, relationships, pressures from society.
The sidebar will close with another French drama, scribe-turned-director Thomas Lilti’s Hippocrate, a drama set in a hospital that depicts the tense and complex relationship between two interns, an upper-class young student (Vincent Lacoste) who is the son of a doctor and a student of Algerian origins (Reda Kateb) who has a modest background. Lilti’s 2007 debut, “Les Yeux bandes,” earned warm reviews.

While there’s typically at least one Asian title in the Critics’ Week lineup, this year is an exception to the rule, bearing out the generally thin representation of films from the region throughout the festival.

Cannes Critics Week Lineup

“Making Love” (Djinn Carrenard) Second film.
Sales: Elle Driver (France)
Special Screenings:
“Breathe” (Melanie Laurent) Second film. Sales: Gaumont (France)
“The Kindergarten Teacher” (Nadav Lapid) Second film. Sales: Le Pacte (Israel)
“Darker Than Midnight” (Sebastiano Riso) First film. Sales: Rai Trade (Italy)
“Gente de bien” (Franco Lolli) First film. Sales: Versatile (Colombia)
“Hope” (Boris Lojkine) Second film. Sales: Pyramide (France)
“It Follows” (David Robert Mitchell) Second film. Sales: Visit Films (U.S.)
“Self Made” (Shira Geffen) Second film. Sales: Westend (Israel)
“The Tribe” (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy) First film. Sales: Alpha Violet (Ukraine)
“When Animals Dream” (Jonas Alexander Arnby) First film. Sales: Gaumont (Denmark)
Closing Night
“Hippocrate” (Thomas Lilti) Second film. Sales: Le Pacte (France)