Cannes 2012: Critics' Week Sidebar to Showcase New Talent With First Film Selection

11:17 AM PST 04/23/2012 by Rebecca Leffler
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Charles Tesson

The sidebar's new artistic director unveiled this year's lineup featuring seven first features in competition, opening night film Rufus Norris' "Broken" and Sandrine Bonnaire's William Hurt-starrer "J'enrage de son Absence."

The Festival de Cannes’ Critics' Week will showcase new talents with an all freshman roster of features in its 51st edition, the sidebar’s new artistic director Charles Tesson announced on Monday.

Festgoers will get their big screen fix starting with Broken, the sidebar’s opening night film from U.K. helmer Rufus Norris. Critic’s Week will also feature special screenings of Sandrine Bonnaire’s J’Enrage de son Absence starring a French-speaking William Hurt and Alice Winocour’s costume drama Augustine plus a competition spanning several continents.

“It wasn’t a premeditated choice,” Tesson told The Hollywood Reporter of the freshman roster, adding: “It was the films we wanted to choose and it was only after that we realized they were essentially all first films.”

Bonnaire’s film is her second, but her first fictional film. “I like that it turned out this way, it goes along with what we do here, namely to discover new talents and take risks on them for the future of cinema,” Tesson said.

Tesson and his selection committee chose from 1,200 films to pick the seven competition features and three special screenings that will premiere in Cannes this year.

Broken stars Un Certain Regard jury president Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy alongside newcomer Eloise Laurence who plays a young girl observing her neighbors and telling the story through her eyes. Yet, despite dealing with themes of rape and a loss of innocence, “the tone isn’t as dark as the subject matter,” Tesson said, adding: “It’s very strong visually and the actors are phenomenal. For a first film, it’s very impressive.”

Broken explores adult themes through the eyes of a young girl observing her neighbors. Yet, despite dealing with themes of rape and a loss of innocence, “the tone isn’t as dark as the subject matter,” Tesson said, adding: “It’s very strong visually and the actors are phenomenal. For a first film, it’s very impressive.”

Augustine is a costume drama that takes place in 1885 at famous Parisian hospital l'Hopital de la Pitie Salpetriere and deals with Dr. Charcot's first cases of hysteria, focusing on his patient in the title role, Augustine. The film stars Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni and singer-actress Soko.

Belgian director David Lambert’s Hors les Murs is the story of a gay couple and oscillates between sentimental comedy and drama. “It changes tone and has a lot of charm,” Tesson said.

In J’enrage de son Absence (Furious at his absence), Hurt plays a man returning to France for his father’s funeral and tries to get back into his former lover’s life again. The film also co-stars actress Alexandra Lamy, real life love of The Artist star and Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin. “It’s like Truffaut’s The Woman Next Door only through the eyes of a woman,” Tesson said. Hurt speaks in fluent French for the role and, adds Tesson: “He’s amazing. Very impressive. It’s a beautiful story.”

Also adding a French accent – and a comedic touch –  to the mix will be competition title Au Galop from Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, a literary and sentimental story about a woman who loves two men.

In a less traditional genre, Vasan Bala will present his Indian thriller Peddlers about a drug trafficker and a cop in Bombay. “It’s really a revelation,” Tesson said. 

Alejandro Fadel’s Los Salvajes’ merges Argentinian auteur cinema with the US Western genre.

Meni Yaesh’s God’s Neighbors paints a portait of contemporary Israel by highlighting a new generation of young religious extremists. “We’ve never seen this in an Israeli film before,” Tesson said, adding that, while the film focuses on Israel, “it resonates with fundamentalism everywhere today.”

Bulgarian director Ilian Metev will present his first film Sofia’s Last Ambulance that follows improbable heros in a city with 2 million inhabitants and 13 ambulances.

The sidebar will also screen 10 short films.

What interested me were films that deal with the reality in which we live today, that aren’t too heavy in form and that pave new pathways instead of being cinema closed into itself,” Tesson said of putting his first stamp on the sidebar, adding: “These are directors we expect to head in different directions with their next projects.”

This year’s Critics’ Week will run from May 17–25 in Cannes.

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