Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino, a raucously satiric odyssey about a famous Portuguese soccer player, has won the Nespresso Grand Prize at the fifty-seventh Semaine de la Critique—Critics’ Week. The winner was selected by the jury presided over by Joachim Trier and including Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Eva Sangiorgi, Chloë Sevigny, and Augustin Trapenard. Run by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Semaine showcases first and second films by international directors and has run parallel to the Cannes Film Festival since 1962.
Reviewers are promising a terrific time for the rest of us once we get a chance to see Diamantino. “Part loopily queer sci-fi thriller, part faux-naive political rallying cry, glued together with candyfloss clouds of romantic reverie,” is the way Variety’s Guy Lodge describes it. “Gleefully silly Diamantino may be, but it also mordantly captures the tone of recent, surging far-right rhetoric across the continent: As it spirals into a demented mad-scientist B-movie with the anti-EU contingent as its cartoon villains, the film loudly broadcasts its political stance without once extracting tongue from cheek.”
More from Boyd van Hoeij (Hollywood Reporter), Allan Hunter (Screen), Sophie Monks Kaufman (Sight & Sound), and Bénédicte Prot at Cineuropa, where you can watch another interview with Abrantes and Schmidt (6’20”).
The Leica Cine Discovery Prize, presented to one of the ten short and medium-length films in competition, goes to Jacqueline Lentzou’s Hector Malot: The Last Day of the Year, a portrait of a woman alone in the desert.
And the jury’s presented the inaugural Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award to Félix Maritaud for his performance in Camille Vidal-Naquet’s Sauvage. The actor, who previously starred in Robin Campillo’s BPM: Beats Per Minute, plays “a twenty-two-year-old male prostitute who offers up his body without guile, wanting little from his clients besides a fleeting touch or kiss that feels like love,” as Kyle Buchanan writes, introducing his interview with Maritaud for Vulture. “It’s an exposed performance in every way, as Maritaud is astonishingly vulnerable or unclothed in just about every scene of this sexually frank film.”
For more on Sauvage, see Gregory Ellwood (Playlist, A-), Ella Kemp (Little White Lies), Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair), Elena Lazic (Sight & Sound), Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa, where Lemercier also interviews Vidal-Naquet), Guy Lodge (Variety), Lisa Nesselson (Screen), and David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter).
Three other awards are given by Critics’ Week partners. The Gan Foundation for Cinema offers “an award to help distribute a first or second feature film in France in the hope of promoting new filmmakers,” and this year it goes to Rohena Gera’s Sir. Set in Mumbai, the debut feature explores the budding yet forbidden attraction between a widowed maid and a wealthy bachelor. Screen’s Wendy Ide grants that this “premise could be soapy but the film combines an appealing, understated sweetness with a certain naivety.” More from Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa) and Jordan Mintzer (Hollywood Reporter).
The SACD (Authors’ Society) promotes new authors with its award, presented this year to Benedikt Erlingsson and Ólafur Egill Egilsson’s Woman at War. Reviews of Erlingsson’s follow-up to Of Horses and Men (2013) have been strong, with Variety’s Jay Weissberg asking, “Is there anything rarer than an intelligent feel-good film that knows how to tackle urgent global issues with humor as well as a satisfying sense of justice? Look no further than Woman at War,” which is about “an environmental activist modestly taking on the world, one electric pylon at a time.” More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 3/5), Wendy Ide (Screen), and Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa, where Marta Bałaga interviews Erlingsson.
And the Canal+ Award for a short or medium-length film goes to Elias Belkeddar’s A Wedding Day, which centers on a French crook in exile in Algiers.
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