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Critics’ Week 2024 Lineup

Oulaya Amamra in Emma Benestan’s Animale (2024)

Over the past few years, Critics’ Week, the independent program running parallel to the Cannes Film Festival, has launched such invigorating first and second features as Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s Diamantino (2018), Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body (2019), Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun (2022), and Amanda Nell Eu’s Tiger Stripes (2023). Artistic director Ava Cahen, now overseeing her third edition, has announced a 2024 lineup of seven features in competition and four special screenings.

Jonathan Millet’s psychological thriller Ghost Trail will open this year’s Critics’ Week on May 15. Adam Bessa (Harka) stars as Hamid, a member of a secret group chasing down fugitive leaders of the Syrian regime. Hamid has never seen the face of the man he’s after, his former torturer, but he knows his voice and smell. Critics’ Week’s sixty-third edition will wrap on May 23 with Emma Benestan’s Animale, starring Oulaya Amamra (Divines) as Nejma, a young woman who aims to compete against a throng of men in the bull race held each year in Camargue, France.

There’s a rogue bull on the loose, and Cahan describes Animale as a cross “between western, slasher, body horror, and revenge film.” The other two special screenings are Saïd Hamich Benlarbi’s Across the Sea, the story of an immigrant who befriends a charismatic cop and his wife in 1990s Marseille, and Alexis Langlois’s Queens of Drama, a tale of the love shared by two women, a pop diva and a punk icon.

Constance Tsang, the sole American in this year’s lineup, will send her debut feature into the competition. Blue Sun Palace focuses on the bond between two migrants in the Chinese community of Queens, and Tsang’s cast includes Lee Kang-sheng, the actor and director best known for his work with Tsai Ming-liang. KEFF follows up on his forty-five-minute festival favorite Taipei Suicide Story (2020) with his first feature, Locust, in which a quiet restaurant worker rumbles through his nights with local gangs.

In Marcelo Caetano’s Baby, a young man adrift in São Paulo is drawn into a complex relationship with an older man. Real-life tennis player Tessa Van den Broeck takes the lead in Leonardo Van Dijl’s Julie Keeps Quiet, which is set at an elite tennis academy where Julie’s coach is suddenly suspended. Two childhood friends train at a motocross park, and one of them has a secret, in Antoine Chevrollier’s Block Pass.

Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir’s documentary The Brink of Dreams centers on a group of young Coptic women in southern Egypt who rebel against tradition by forming an all-female street theater troupe. Cahen calls Federico Luis’s Simon of the Mountain a “physical, deeply human drama, which doubles down as a surprising coming-of-age story, where the protagonist wrestles through life, following the whims of his borderline personality disorder.” Cahen will announce this year’s selection of short films on Thursday.

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