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Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique, or Critics’ Week, sidebar has unveiled its 2021 lineup and, true to its reputation as a platform for up-and-coming talent, this year’s selection features fresh faces and untapped talent.
A total of 11 of the 13 feature films picked for Cannes Critics’ Week 2021 are directorial debuts, including all seven of the competition titles.
The section, which runs July 7-15, will open with Robuste (Robust), Constance Meyer’s first feature as a director, which stars Gérard Depardieu alongside Divines actress Deborah Lukumuena. The choice is likely to spark a few questions, with Depardieu facing accusations of rape relating to incidents that allegedly took place in 2018. After charges were dropped in 2019, the case was reopened in late 2020. Depardieu’s lawyer told Le Monde that the actor rejected the accusations.
Among the other first-timers is Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, whose debut feature Les Amours d’Anaïs (Anaïs in Love) will premiere in Cannes Critics’ Week 2021. The love triangle comedy stars Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Anaïs Demoustier, and Denis Podalydès. Although this is her feature debut, Bourgeois-Tacquet is a Cannes regular, having presented her short film Pauline Enslaved in competition in 2018. Anaïs in Love was developed at La Semaine de la Critique’s Next Step workshop.
The seven films in competition include the coming-of-age drama Libertad from first-time director Clara Roquet; The Gravedigger’s Wife, the first feature from Somalia-born director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, about a man who crosses the desert in an attempt to save his dying wife; Elie Grappe’s debut feature Olga, the story of a mother and daughter set in Ukraine and Switzerland; the Italian drama Piccolo Corpo (Small Body) from debut director Laura Samani; the colorfully titled Rien à Foutre (Zero Fucks Given), starring Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), the sophomore effort of French directors Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre (Castle to Castle); Feathers, the first feature from Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy; and Amparo, the feature debut from Colombian director Simón Mesa Soto, who won the Palme d’Or for his short film Leidi in 2014.
Critics’ Week, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, is known for spotting new talent. Several of the directors with films in the Cannes competition this year — including Leos Carax, Jacques Audiard, Nadav Lapid, Justin Kurzel, and François Ozon, all got their Cannes start at Le Semaine de la Critique.
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