June is usually a relatively quiet month on the festival calendar, but this year it feels like spring, a season of renewal. Delayed editions of Tribeca, the Berlinale and Berlin’s Critics’ Week, and the Diagonale Festival of Austrian Film are all opening this week. Following last week’s unveiling of a very exciting, robust Cannes lineup, Directors’ Fortnight will announce its own official selection tomorrow. But the week begins with the lineup for the sixtieth-anniversary edition of Critics’ Week, the Cannes sidebar focused on promising newcomers.
Leos Carax, whose Annette will open the main competition in Cannes, premiered his first feature, Boy Meets Girl (1984), in Critics’ Week. The careers of Arnaud Desplechin, Nadav Lapid, Julia Ducournau, Justin Kurzel, Hafsia Herzi, and François Ozon have also been launched by the program, which is run by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics. This year’s edition will open on July 7 with Robust, the first feature from Constance Meyer, who has won several awards over the past few years for her short films. Robust centers on the relationship between an aging movie star (Gérard Depardieu) and his new assistant, played by Déborah Lukumuena, the breakthrough star of Houda Benyamina’s Divines (2016). Leyla Bouzid’s A Tale of Love and Desire, the story of an eighteen-year-old French-Algerian who falls for a young Tunisian immigrant, will wrap Critics’ Week 2021 on July 15.
Other special screenings include A Radiant Girl, the first feature directed by renowned actor and singer Sandrine Kiberlain, and Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s Anaïs in Love, selected specifically to celebrate the program’s sixtieth anniversary. The film sets up a love triangle between characters played by Denis Podalydès, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, and Anaïs Demoustier, who, the programmers promise, “is more sensuous, liberated, and vibrant than ever, and whose playful energy is bewitching.”
Seven more first features will compete for three awards, and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who won the Palme d’Or in 2007 for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, will preside over the jury. In the video below, Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson has a bit to say about each film in the program, long and short (and if the subtitles don’t pop up right away, click “CC”).
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