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Cannes Critics’ Week, a parallel film festival sidebar selected by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, has unveiled its 2023 selection of 11 features, including seven competition titles and four special screenings.
The section focuses on first and second features from emerging directors. The 62nd edition runs alongside the main Cannes festival May 17-25.
This year’s competition lineup includes two Asian horror movies: the Korean horror film Sleep (Jam) from first-time director, and former Bong Joon Ho assistant, Jason Yu, and Tiger Stripes from Malaysian director Amanda Eu. The former features Parasite star Lee Sun-kyun and Train to Busan‘s Jung Yu-mi as newlyweds whose lives descend into horror triggered by the husband’s strange behavior while asleep. Tiger Stripes, which draws inspiration from Southeast Asian folklore, is a coming-of-age tale about a 12-year-old girl whose body starts to change in alarming and horrifying ways as she hits puberty.
Physical changes of a different sort are at the center of Power Alley (Levante), the competition title from Brazilian director Lillah Halla, about a budding teenage volleyball champion who discovers she is pregnant and falls foul of Brazil’s abortion ban in her attempts to seek an illegal termination. Halla, whose short Menarca screened in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2020, developed Power Alley with the support of the Critics’ Week Next Step initiative, a program designed to help filmmakers move from their first shorts to their first feature.
Amjad Al Rasheed becomes the first-ever Jordanian director in Critics’ Week with Inshallah a Boy. The drama, which stars Palestinian actress Mouna Hawa (A House in Jerusalem), examines Jordan’s sexist inheritance laws through the story of a woman fighting for her economic survival and independence following the death of her husband. This is Al Rasheed’s debut feature, after attracting attention with the award-winning short The Parrot, co-directed with Darin J. Sallam.
Also in the Critics’ Week competition this year are the French psychological thriller Le Ravissement from director Iris Kaltenbäck, featuring Hafsia Herzi as a woman who kidnaps her friend’s newborn baby in an attempt to build a life with a former lover; the Belgian drama Il Pleut Dans La Maison from director Paloma Sermon-Daï’s about two teenagers left alone in a dilapidated house over the summer holidays; and Lost Country from director Vladimir Perisic, a Serbian drama set against the backdrop of the 1996 student demonstrations in Belgrade against the attempted election fraud by then-President Slobodan Milosevic. Perisic appeared in Critics’ Week in 2009 with Ordinary People.
Ava Cahen, now in her second year as artistic director of Critics’ Week, made a major splash at her debut, which featured breakout hits including Charlotte Wells’ Oscar-nominated Aftersun, Cristèle Alves Meira’s Portuguese feature Alma Viva, and Andrés Ramírez Pulido’s Colombian drama La Jauria. This year’s poster for Critics’ Week features a scene from Aftersun.
Marie Amachoukeli’s Ama Gloria, a drama about the deep bond between a motherless 6-year-old and her nanny, opens the 2023 Critics’ Week section in a special screening, and Erwan Le Duc’s No Love Lost, starring 120 BPM actor Nahuel Perez Biscayart as a single father raising a daughter (Céleste Brunnquell), will close the section. Also getting a special screening this year is Stéphan Castang’s zombie movie Vincent Must Die and the Belgian romantic comedy The (Exp)erience of Love from directorial duo Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni, about a couple struggling to conceive who decide to sleep with their ex-partners.
Audrey Diwan, whose French abortion drama Happening won the Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, will head up this year’s Critics’ Week jury, together with German actor Franz Rogowski, Sundance programmer Kim Yutani, Portuguese cinematographer Rui Poças, and Indian journalist Meenakshi Shedde.
Check out the full 2023 Critics’ Week lineup below.
Power Alley (Levante), Lillah Halla
Il Pleut Dans La Maison, Paloma Sermon-Daï
Inshallah a Boy, Amjad Al Rasheed
Sleep (Jam), Jason Yu
Lost Country, Vladimir Perisic
Le Ravissement, Iris Kaltenbäck
Tiger Stripes, Amanda Nell Eu
Opening Film — Ama Gloria, Maria Amachoukeli
The (Exp)erience of Love, Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni
Vincent Must Die, Stéphan Castang
Closing Film — No Love Lost, Erwan Le Duc
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