Latin beat at Cannes Critics' Week

France's 'Heroes' opens sidebar with 14 directorial debuts

The 46th Festival de Cannes International Critics' Week will offer a taste of Latin America with a French twist, judging from the unveiling of the sidebar's lineup (HR 4/26).

With 13 first films competing for the Camera d'Or and 14 directorial debuts among the 16 total features selected, "we're really fulfilling our mission to discover tomorrow's cinema," Critics' Week artistic director Jean-Christophe Ber-jon said last week. "We're here to promote research, new forms and new talents. We want to show good films from promising filmmakers. It's OK if a film isn't perfect."

The sidebar kicks off May 17 with France's "Heros," Bruno Merle's debut film starring Gallic co-median Mi-chael Youn in an atypically serious role as a man responsible for warming up the audience on the set of a TV show who ends up kidnapping a famous singer.

Mexican actor-turned-helmer Gael Garcia Bernal, the sidebar's ambassador, will present his first turn in the director's chair, "Deficit," a drama centering on a family gathering where different social classes clash.

Lina Chamie will represent Brazil with her second feature, "A via lactea" (The Milky Way), about a couple who have a violent phone conversation and agree to meet —except that the city of Sao Paulo comes between them.

From Mexico, Ernesto Contreras will present his first film, "Parpados Azules" (Blue Eyelids), about the romance that develops between two lonely strangers.

The Official Selection also will be welcoming the Critics' Week sidebar for an unprecedented special screening of Mexican Simon Bross' "Malos Habitos."

Other Spanish-language special screenings include Pablo Fendrik's "El Asaltante" from Argentina, Juan Antonio Bayona's "El Orfanato" from Spain and the FIPRESCI's Revelation of the Year, Rafa Cortes' "Yo," also from Spain.

"This year, our favorite films were very, very Latin," Berjon said. "When we all got together, everyone had about one or two Latin films they loved."

In addition to the opener, Le French touch is on display with David Oelhoffen's "Nos Retrouvailles," starring Jacques Gamblin and Nicolas Giraud as a long-separated father and son reunited.

France also is a co-producer of three other films In Competition, though Berjon finds it increasingly difficult to determine a film's nationality. "We could fill our selection of world programming with only French co-productions, since France is so present," he said.

The complete Critics' Week lineup is available at