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2024 Cannes Film Festival Predictions – Critics’ Week

2024 Cannes Film Festival Predictions – Critics’ Week

Last year’s edition of Critics’ Week featured the likes of Ama Gloria, Tiger Stripes and Iris Kaltenbäck’s Le Ravissement — which would become the section’s identifier for the 63rd edition with actress Hafsia Herzi giving us the side-eye. Currently in year three of her mandate, Critics’ Week topper Ava Cahen will likely once again select first-time features only for the competition and will give extra visibility to French cinema with Special Screenings selections to popular industry figures (and France co-productions) perhaps a Céline Sallette’s Niki or a revisit of Jesse Eisenberg with A Real Pain. We don’t know when they’ll unveil the selections but it should be more or less around the second week of April. Here are ten films that might be an ideal fit for the section:

Come Back – 🇧🇪
Jan Roosens, Raf Roosens
Producers: Savage Film’s Bart Van Langendonck.
World Sales: Indie Sales

The Flemish brothers have already made their presence known in Cannes having showcased their shorts with “Buddy” competing for the Palme d’Or in 2015, and with “White Goldfish” presented at the (online edition) Critics’ Week in 2020. Jan Roosens and Raf Roosens‘ directorial debut is actually based on a project they workshopped at the section’s Next Step program and for the occasion lassoed a mother and daughter actress first with Veerle Baetens and Billie Vlegels. Adding musically inclined Gorik van Oudheusen to the mix, this follows Ava (Vlegels ), daughter of a once successful techno DJ couple, lives with her father after her parents’ divorce. When her mother, Naomi (Baetens), aims for an international comeback, Ava is thrust into the world of the nocturnal club scene. While Naomi thrives in this dark arena of pounding beats, it’s not Ava’s world. Despite her efforts to adapt, Ava must struggle to maintain her own identity. Production on Come Back took place in August of last year.

Julie Keeps Quiet – 🇧🇪
Leonardo Van Dijl
Producers: Les Films du Fleuve’s Delphine Tomson and the Dardenne Bros., De Wereldvrede’s Gilles Coulier, Gilles De Schryver, Wouter Sap and Roxanne Sarkozi.
World Sales: New Europe Film Sales

A successful commercials director, Belgian filmmaker Leonardo Van Dijl saw his 2020 short “Stephanie” get selected for the short film Palme d’Or competition back in 2020. His feature debut (co-written with Ruth Becquart – who also stars), looks at who exactly holds the power. The sports drama unfolds when a prominent tennis coach are investigated, attention quickly shifts to Julie, a young and promising player who is always around him. As pressure mounts for her to share her experiences, Julie chooses to keep quiet and focus on her game, leaving the investigation and the coach’s future in doubt. Koen De Bouw and Tessa Van den Broeck star while Nicolas Karakatsanis is the selected cinematographer. The trades are saying Julie Keeps Quiet could land in other sections on the Croisette – and recent portraits like Slalom (2020) and Olga (2021) have made this sub-genre a good bet.

Laura – 🇸🇪
Fanny Ovesen
Producers: Kjellson & Wik.’s Marie Kjellson.
World Sales: TBC

With a bunch of shorts under her belt, Swedish filmmaker (based in Oslo, Norway) Fanny Ovesen received a lot of early support including some Eurimages coin for her debut which moved into production last summer in several Euro countries. What looks like an un-Before Sunrises type portrait, this features a couch surfing trip through Europe 19-year-old Laura who wakes up having had sex with a stranger. She remembers nothing. Torn between guilt and innocence she sets out on a journey which will influence her self-image and close relationships forever. The currently titled Laura stars Embla Ingelman-Sundberg, Aviva Wrede and Oscar Leasage.

Little Trouble Girls – 🇸🇮
Urška Djukić
Producers: SPOK Films’ Jožko Rutar, Staragara IT’s Miha Černec and David Cej, Izazov 365’s Katarina Prpić.
World Sales: TBC

Having been selected in the Quinzaine section with her 2019 short “The Right One” (co-directed with Gavriil Tzafkas), and being selected to take part of Cannes’ Cinéfondation Residence (and Torino Film Lab) for her debut project shortly after — Urška Djukić began production on Little Trouble Girls last summer with filming being split between Italy and Ljubljana. Mina Švajger, Saša Tabaković, Nataša Burger, Lotos Vincenc Šparovec, Špela Frlic, Brane Završan and Mattia Casson star in a portrait of a shy and sensitive teenage girl named Lucija (Jara Sofija Ostan) who, while growing up, has to navigate the expectations of her environment and the discovery of her own sexuality.

Mi Bestia – 🇨🇴
Camila Beltrán
Producers: Felina Films’ Camila Beltrán, Films Grand Huit’s Lionel Massol, Inercia Películas’ Paola Andrea Pérez Nieto.
World Sales: Pulsar Content

Selected last year as a WIP for San Sebastian Film Festival, production on Camila Beltrán‘s much anticipated debut film took place in the summer of 2022 and so this is more than ready to get out of the gate. Described as a mix between De Palma’s Carrie and Martel’s The Holy Child, this is set in Bogotá, 1996. The population is frightened because there is a rumor that the devil is going to arrive during an approaching lunar eclipse. Mila, in the turmoil of adolescence, begins to see everything that happens to her as a sign. The world around her seems more hostile and Mila feels that she herself is being transformed.
Mi Bestia features Stella Martinez, Mallerly Murillo, Marcela Mar and Héctor Sánchez.

On Falling – 🇵🇹
Laura Carreira
Producers: Sixteen Films’ Jack Thomas-O’Brien.
World Sales: Goodfellas.

A shot in October of 2023 project that we actually think might be better suited for a Venice Film Festival showcase (plus her last short “The Shift” was selected for the Lido in 2020), Portuguese filmmaker (based in Edinburgh, Scotland) Laura Carreira has a Croisette habitual in Sixteen Films backing the project so we need to think that this workplace drama has a glimmer of hope for a Croisette showcase. Featuring Joana Santos, On Falling tells the story of a Portuguese warehouse picker working in Scotland. Trapped between the confines of her workplace and the solitude of her flatshare, she seeks to resist the loneliness, alienation and ensuing small talk which begin to threaten her sense of self. Johanna Hogg editor Helle le Fevre will be on a mad dash for the finish line on this one.

Our Wildest Days – 🇬🇷
Vasilis Kekatos
Producers: Tripode’s Guillaume Dreyfus and Delphine Schmit.
World Sales: Kinology

A Palme d’Or winner in 2019 for his short “The Distance Between Us And The Sky,” Greek filmmaker Vassilis Kekatos landed French actress Daphne Patakia and an ensemble youth cast for the story about a Chloe, 20 years old, who leaves her dysfunctional family to follow a group of romantic outsiders and help the forgotten of society. During her travel through a shattered Greece, she will dream, fly, fall in love but also she’ll realize that the true rebels are always alone. Filming on Our Wildest Days took place last summer so it would be positioned for a likely Croisette showcase – possibly a film that the Quinzaine or Un Certain Regard sections want to lasso.

Une vie rêvée – 🇫🇷
Morgan Simon
Producers: Trois Brigands Prod.’s Fanny Yvonnet, Paul Guilhaume, Léa Mysius.
World Sales: Pulsar Content

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Félix Lefebvre, and Lubna Azabal take center stage in Morgan Simon’s sophomore feature which we could see as a Special Screenings selection in this section. Simon is tied to Cannes having workshopped A Taste of Ink at the L’Atelier Cinéfondation (the film would premiere at San Sebastián Film Festival). Une vie rêvée (aka A Free Woman) is inspired by Simon’s mother’s life and was shot in the suburb he grew up in. It tells the story of the relationship between a mother and her 18 year-old son. A domestic France release is set for August. Léa Mysius who broke out big in the section with Ava is a producer on this.

Yunan – 🇸🇾
Ameer Fakher Eldin
Producer: Red Balloon Film’s Dorothe Beinemeier.
World Sales: Intramovies

We believe that chances are slim for the section’s actual competition, but they might be open to what is the second instalment and sophomore feature by Germany-based filmmaker Ameer Fakher Eldin. After 2021’s The Stranger (which preemed on the Lido in 2021), Yunan is a sobering pic about a disillusioned, exiled writer who travels to a remote island in the North Sea with thoughts of suicide. There he meets an elderly woman whose quiet humanity incites a reawakening of his desires in life. Georges Khabbaz, veteran actress Hanna Schygulla (who brought about a lot of smiles with her empowered and well-traveled character in Poor Things), Tom Wlashiha and Sibel Kekilli star.

Zénithal – 🇫🇷
Jean-Baptiste Saurel
Producers: Kazak Productions’ Amaury Ovise.
World Sales: Best Friend Forever

After cutting his teeth on a handful of shorts (including a Critics’ Week 2012 selection in The Dickslap) and some recent television work, Jean-Baptiste Saurel moved into production on his directorial debut in May of last year with a project that is coined as a zany kung-fu-themed action rom com. Featuring Franc Bruneau, Vanessa Guide, Xavier Lacaille, Cyril Gueï, Anaïde Rozam, Rebecca Finet and Bruno Gouery, Zénithal features the work of cinematographer Yann Maritaud (Cuties, Slalom) Guide stars as a woman battling to establish peace between the sexes after her longtime boyfriend falls under the thrall of a Machiavellian schemer, who has murdered and harnessed the virulent powers of a famous kung-fu master, as part of a plan to restore absolute male domination. We don’t think this will be a competition entry type, but special screenings would be suitable.

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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