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Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire Black Flies

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Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Black Flies – 2023 Cannes Critics’ Panel: Day 2

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Black Flies – 2023 Cannes Critics’ Panel: Day 2

One of the last two film items added to the competition this year, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire‘s Black Flies makes it three for three on the Croisette for the French filmmaker. Sauvaire was in the Un Certain Regard section with 2008’s child soldier drama Johnny Mad Dog and in 2017 he showcased his prison fight film A Prayer Before Dawn as an out-of-competition showing. This stars Sean Penn, Tye Sheridan, Gbenga Akkinagbe, Raquel Nave, Kali Reis, Michael Carmen Pitt, Katherine Waterston, and Mike Tyson.

Upstart paramedic Ollie Cross (Tye Sheridan) courses through adrenaline-fueled nights in an ambulance for the New York City Fire Department in Brownsville, Brooklyn while spending days studying for med-school exams in a Chinatown hovel. Working alongside seasoned first responder Gene Rutkovsky (Sean Penn), Cross discovers firsthand the chaos and awe of a job that careens from harrowing to heartfelt, and occasionally stretches into ethical ambiguity. Furthering his examination of violence inside institutions and among close-knit groups.

Current temp: To use paramedic terminology, this fourth film in the comp is not DOA but on life support – and it’s a shame since the world that is depicted here is as authentic as it gets. A late night press screening means only half of our Cannes Critics’ Panel graded the film but we are looking at a 1.9 average grade and something that will be at the bottom of the ’23 line-up.

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Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire Black Flies Cannes Review


Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member 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 served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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