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2024 Cannes Film Festival: Jonathan Millet, Saïd Hamich Benlarbi & Emma Benestan Load Up Critics’ Week

2024 Cannes Film Festival: Jonathan Millet, Saïd Hamich Benlarbi & Emma Benestan Load Up Critics’ Week

Last year the Critics’ Week section introduced us to first and second features from the likes of Vladimir Perišić, Iris Kaltenbäck, Amanda Nell Eu, Amjad Al Rasheed and Marie Amachoukeli. In 2024, Ava Cahen’s team viewed 1050 feature films have loaded up the competition (and Special Screenings section) with eleven features. France is unsurprisingly the dominant representation country with five selections and three co-productions. Opening with Jonathan Millet‘s Les Fantômes (aka Ghost Trail) which was coined as a Cairo Conspiracy meets the surveillance world of The Lives Of Others this stars Adam Bessa, Tawfeek Barhom, Julia Franz Richter, Hala Rajab and unfolds in modern-day Strasbourg. Disco Boy producers Pauline Seigland and Lionel Massol are behind this one. The closing film is the sophomore feature by French filmmaker Emma Benestan who had moved quickly in post as Animale was filmed last October/November. Set in Camargue, France – Nejma trains hard to win the local bullfighting competition. When she is mauled after a celebration, she starts to notice disturbing changes. News of a rogue bull on the loose terrifies the community, killing young men. The horror revenge film is toplined by Oulaya Amamra (with whom she reteamed with on her 2021 debut, Fragile). Titane cinematographer Ruben Impens.

Jonathan Millet's Les Fantômes

Of the two other selections we find Alexis LangloisReines du drame and the real surprise in Saïd Hamich Benlarbi‘s sophomore feature La mer au loin which we were earmarking for Venice premiere as production for the project took place in November. Set in Marseille, this 1990’s-set melodrama laced with Rai, a form of lyrical Algerian folk music – follows a young Arab immigrant living illegally in the city who falls in love with a woman who happens to be married with a cop. Ayoub Gretaa, Anna Mouglalis and Grégoire Colin toline. Of the seven competition films (comprised of five debuts and two sophomore features) we’ll have plenty to discover with only Leonardo Van Dijl‘s Julie Keeps Quiet perhaps leaping to the front as it was lensed by Nicolas Karakatsanis and we have the Dardennes among the producers. Here are the eleven feature (the shorts will be unveiled later this week):

Baby – Marcelo Caetano 🇧🇷
After being released from a juvenile detention center, Wellington finds himself alone and adrift on the streets of São Paulo, without any contact from his parents and lacking the resources to rebuild his life. During a visit to a porn theater, he encounters Ronaldo, a mature man, who teaches him new ways of surviving. Gradually, their relationship turns into a conflicting passion, oscillating between exploitation and protection, jealousy and complicity.

Block Pass – Antoine Chevrollier 🇫🇷
Willy and Jojo have been inseparable friends since childhood. To kill time, they train at La Pampa motocross park. One evening, Willy discovers Jojo’s secret.

Blue Sun Palace – Constance Tsang 🇺🇸
A sudden loss catalyzes an unlikely bond between two migrants in the Chinese community of Queens. Navigating lives far from home and the painstaking labor that supports them, they journey through grief together in hopes of finding family.

The Brink of Dreams – Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir 🇪🇬
In a remote conservative village in the South of Egypt, a group of disenfranchised Coptic girls rebel by forming an all-female street theater troupe. They dream of becoming actresses, dancers and singers, challenging their families and the villagers with their provocative performances. Shot across four years, this coming-of-age story focuses on those girls, as they transition from childhood to womanhood.

Julie Keeps Quiet – Leonardo Van Dijl 🇧🇪
As the star player at an elite tennis academy, Julie’s life revolves around the game she loves. When her coach falls under investigation and is suddenly suspended, all of the club’s players are encouraged to speak up. But Julie decides to keep quiet…

Locust – KEFF 🇹🇼
As the 2019 Hong Kong protests erupt across the strait, Zhong-Han, a silent twenty-nothing in Taiwan, leads a double life – working at a family restaurant by day, and running with a group of local gangsters by night. But when the ownership of the restaurant changes hands, it sets off an unexpected chain reaction that forces Zhong-Han to witness and confront the corrupt power games of his country.

Simon of the Mountain – Federico Luis 🇦🇷
Simon is 21 years old. He introduces himself as a mover’s helper. He claims not to know how to cook or clean the bathroom, but he does know how to make a bed. Recently, he seems to have become a different person…

Special Screenings:

Les Fantômes – Jonathan Millet
Hamid, is part of a secret group pursuing the Syrian regime’s fugitive leaders. His mission takes him to France, on the trail of his former torturer whom he must confront. Based on true events.

La mer au loin – Saïd Hamich Benlarbi
Nour, 27, immigrated illegally to Marseille. With his friends, he makes a living as a small-time dealer, leading an unconventional, festive life… Meeting Serge – an unpredictable, charismatic cop – and his wife Noémie, turns his life upside down. From 1990 to 2000, Nour loves, matures, and clings to his dreams.

Les Reines du drame – Alexis Langlois
2055. Steevyshady, an overly botoxed Youtuber tells their idol’s mad destiny: we follow pop diva singer Mimi Madamour from the very peak of her career in 2005, all the way down to the pits of hell, a downfall brought about by her love story with punk icon Billie Kohler. For half a century these drama queens have sung their passion and their rage high upon a stage.

Animale – Emma Benestan
Camargue, France – Infamous for its traditional bull race, an exhilarating and graceful challenge of agility and respect between man and beast. Surrounded by men, 22-year-old Nejma trains hard to fulfill her dream of winning the upcoming annual competition, but news of a rogue and violent bull on the loose terrifies the community. Young men are being murdered everywhere, and the beast is nowhere to be seen.

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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