Cannes' Critics Week titles announced

First-time directors in the spotlight for sidebar

PARIS -- First-time directors will be center stage at this year's 48th annual International Critics Week, where eight of nine announced competition titles will be up for the Camera d'Or.

As previously announced, first-time filmmaker Mathias Gokalp's "Rien de Personnel" (Nothing Personal) will open the Festival de Cannes sidebar. And fellow French filmmaker Nassim Amaouche will screen his dark drama "Adieu Gary," which stars actor-director Jean-Pierre Bacri alongside Dominique Reymond, Yasmine Belmadi, Sabrina Ouazani and Mahmed Arezki.

"It's been an extraordinary year for French cinema. We couldn't have done it any other way," Critics Week artistic director Jean-Christophe Berjon said. "This is the first time there have been so many great French titles to choose from for as long as I've been doing this. It's just great!"

Vladimir Perisic will present his directorial debut, "The Ordinary People," a Franco-Serbian co-production about how ordinary men can turn into monsters.

"What's shocking is that there are very few first films in the official selection or the Director's Fortnight, and Critics Week is pretty much just that. It's great that we can be the ones to really showcase the next generation of filmmakers," Berjon said. "We didn't do it on purpose. The most interesting films we were sent this year were first films."

Other first-timers include Belgian helmer Carlone Strubbe with "Lost Persons Area" and Chilean director Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, who brings his story of a rural family in the Chilean countryside to Cannes in "Huacho."

Young Kurd-Iraqi helmer Shahram Alidi will present his first feature, "Whisper With the Wind," and Alvaro Brechner will bring the Uruguayan-Spanish co-production "Mal dia para pescar."

The only non first-film in the lineup, "Altiplano" is the second co-directorial effort from Belgian documentarian Peter Brosens and U.S. helmer Jessica Woodworth, who won the Venice Lion last year. The duo's film is an Andes-set drama about sacrifice and redemption.

The nine-day event will close with a double screening of Gregoire Colin's debut short "La baie de renard" followed by Columbian director Camilo Matiz's "1989," which stars Vincent Gallo in an English-language story, the only one in the Critics Week lineup.

"A selection almost completely un-Anglo-Saxon is difficult to imagine, but that's how it worked out. We saw a lot of American films, and there were many we liked and considered," Berjon said, adding: "There are only 10 films in competition this year. We wanted to limit the number of films selected so that we could really highlight the new directors chosen."

Critics Week will welcome, as planned, Spanish filmmakers Juan Antonio Bayona and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo as "Godfathers" of the sidebar. Gabe Ibanez'sSpanish title "Hierro" will screen out of competition.

Critics Week runs May 14-22 in Cannes.

The Critics Week lineup follows:

Competition

"Huacho"
Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, Chile

"The Ordinary People"
Vladimir Perisic, Serbia/France

"Lost Persons Area"
Caroline Strubbe, Belgium

"Adieu Gary"
Nassim Amaouche, France

"Whisper with the Wind"
Shahram Alidi, Iraq

"Altiplano"
Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, Belgium/Germany/Netherlands

"Bad Day to Go Fishing"
Alvaro Brechner, Urugua/Spain

Special screenings

"Rien de Personnel" (opening film)
Mathias Gokalp, France

"Hierro"
Gabe Ibanez, Spain

"1989" (closing film)
Camilo Matiz, Colombia

"La Baie du Renard"
Gregoire Colin, France
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