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2023 Next Step Cannes Critics' Week

Film Festivals

2023 Critics’ Week’s Next Step: Zou Jing, Nans Laborde-Jourdàa & Andrea Slaviček Among Lucky Ten

2023 Critics’ Week’s Next Step: Zou Jing, Nans Laborde-Jourdàa & Andrea Slaviček Among Lucky Ten

Nans Laborde-Jourdàa whose short “Bolero” competed at Critics’ Week 2023 and claimed some major wins (we were at the ceremony see below), Chinese filmmaker Zou Jing who was a big winner in the section with Lili Alone and Andrea Slaviček who was selected for the upcoming Résidence of the Festival de Cannes are three of the ten filmmakers who’ll workshop their feature film projects a the tenth edition of the Next Step programme of Cannes’ Critics’ Week taking place as we speak. Laborde-Jourdàa brings Nous Brûlons (produced by Avenue B productions’ Caroline Bonmarchand), Jing arrives with coming-of-ager A Girl Unknown (produced by Memoria Films’ Wang Yang) and Slaviček will bring Luna On Two Planets. Here are the ten project descriptions:

Femminielli – Anton Bialas (France/Sweden)
Production: Apaches Films (France)
Telling the story of a baroque nightclub in Paris, “Le Paradis”, whose seedy underbelly is swollen with countless creatures of the night who seek shelter, far from the uniformity of broad daylight, under the watchful eye of the master of the house, the flamboyant and decadent Bernadino Femminielli. But, the city of Paris – lead by a capitalistic and self-righteous elite – is looking to do away with the city’s most eccentric characters, including the patrons of “Le Paradis”. In this all-out war, Bernardino, his lover Johnny, dissolute Mila, and old crone bar owner Mrs Ingrid Caven will find themselves at the very core of this matrix which they refuse to leave behind them.

Anekumen – Irati Gorostidi Agirretxe (Spain)
Production: Apellaniz y de Sosa (Spain)
Co-Production: Señor y Señora (Spain)
It’s May 1978, Franco’s regime in Spain has come to an end and the excitement surrounding the transition to democracy is palpable. In the suburb of San Sebastian, a group of young factor workers ramp up the fight against a corporate agreement in the metalwork trade. When they lose the fight, the most radical, disillusioned members quit their jobs at the factory and trial a new kind of spiritual collaboration in the remote community of Anekumen. But their aspirations come up against profound contradictions which makes them question the ideal they’re pursuing.

To Put Out One Fire – Jela Hasler (Switzerland)
Production: Langfilm (Switzerland)
Twenty-seven-year-old idealist Anna has just completed her postgraduate degree and is now kicking off her professional career in the office of Urban Greening in Zurich. It’s here that she meets 55-year-old Granit, who’s no stranger to physical labour in his work with trees. He sees Anna as yet another academic come to implement change that’s bound to fail, but the young woman shows goodwill and enthusiasm. Ultimately, they must learn to understand and to live with one another, despite their different ideologies.

Nous Brûlons – Nans Laborde-Jourdàa (France)
Production: Avenue B Productions (France)
An ABC of mad love comprising eight stories which revolve around the mania involved in and addiction to love, the film takes us on a journey, presenting us with a Viscount from Béarn who falls in love with his mother-in-law in 1572 to tragic effect, a feverish meeting between a shepherd and his lover in a foundry, and an obsessive and threatening fan of a classical dancer.

Aisha Can’t Fly Away Anymore – Morad Mostafa (Egypt)
Production: Bonanza Films (Egypt)
Co-Production: Film Clinic (Egypt), Nomadis Images (Tunisia), Dulac Productions (France)
Aisha, a 26-year-old Somali woman, lives and works in Ain-shams, a neighbourhood in Cairo with a large African migrant community. The authorities’ indifference to violent tensions between Egyptians and various African nationalities has allowed different gangs to seize control of the neighbourhood. And the situation quickly turns sour after one of them offers Aisha security in exchange for a favour.

Luna on Two Planets – Andrea Slaviček (Croatia)
Luna, a young, absent-minded photographer, lives somewhere between fantasy and reality, and juggles several day jobs in the hope of landing her dream role. Something of an expert in bad decisions and outlandish encounters, she navigates a chaotic, almost surrealist life with her two sidekicks, Nicolas and Max.

Under My Skin – Inês Teixeira (Portugal)
Production: Terratreme Films (Portugal)
Seventeen-year-old Matilde returns to her grandmother’s house in Serra do Açor for the summer holidays. It’s here that she meets Pedro, a handsome young man ten years her senior. They soon grow attracted to one another, but when they meet again in Lisbon, the age difference is suddenly a problem and their relationship becomes complicated. After spending the night at Pedro’s, Matilde discovers he hasn’t been entirely honest with her.

Dovetail – Vincent Tilanus (Netherlands)
Production: Room For Film (Netherlands)
Openly gay teenager, 17-year-old Tommy, is about to go on a 6-week-long road trip across the USA with his family to celebrate his parents’ wedding. In the weeks leading up to the trip, however, Tommy learns that his father Abel has been hiding past relationships with men. This revelation shatters the family unit, and Tommy is forced to navigate emotional chaos and frenzied decisions which will reshape his family’s future.

Una chica triste – Fernanda Tovar (Mexico)
Production: Colectivo Colmena (Mexico)
Co-Production: Promenades Films (France)
Paula and La Maestra, two 16-year-old Mexican teenagers, are the best of friends but also fierce competitors on their respective swimming teams. When Paula is raped at a party, however, sports rivalry takes a back seat. After hearing about the attack, La Maestra intends to avenge her friend in her own way, and the situation quickly spirals out of control.

A Girl Unknown – Zou Jing (China)
Production: Memoria Films (China/France)
Painting the portrait of a young Chinese woman from the age of six through to thirty, living in three different families, this film tells the story of entire generations of girls who were abandoned in China between the 1980s and the 2000s. It’s also an intimate coming-of-age story exploring existential pain, self-discovery, and how we learn to love.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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