Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival is one of those institutions that generally looks impressive only in retrospect. In advance, it's hard to tell which of the films selected for the sidebar will really land, but look back at the archives, and it's remarkable how many significant films — from Ken Loach's “Kes” to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu's “Amores Perros” — have quietly premiered there.
In other words, while I don't have much to say right now about this year's Critics' Week selection, announced earlier today, it could yet give us plenty to talk about. As it stands, the most famous name in the lineup isn't one best known for her work behind the camera: French actress Mélanie Laurent, whose second directorial effort, “Respire,” will play as a Special Screening in the section.
Laurent starred in her 2011 debut, “The Adopted,” a middling family melodrama that received a quiet release in France and the UK, but not the US; this time, she's stayed entirely off-screen for a female-focused coming-of-age story.
Laurent is one of four French feature directors selected for Critics' Week, two of whom provide the section's opening and closing films: Djinn Carrenard's “Faire l'amour” will kick things off, while Thomas Lilti's medical drama “Hippocrate” will close proceedings.
The only American film in the lineup is “It Follows,” by David Robert Mitchell. Mitchell made an impression in Critics' Week in 2010 with his debut, the gentle teen comedy “Myth of the American Sleepover”; his follow-up, described as a horror film, seems a distinct change of pace. He's not the only filmmaker returning to the section this year: Israeli director Shira Geffen, who competes this year with “Self Made,” won the Camera d'Or in 2007 for her debut “Meduzot.”
Oscar-winning British director Andrea Arnold — twice a Jury Prize winner at Cannes for “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” — will preside over the jury for the section. The feature lineup is:
“Faire L”Amour,” Djinn Carrénard (France)
“Hippocrate,” Thomas Lilti (France)
“Respire,” Mélanie Laurent (France)
“L”institutrice,” Nadav Lapid (Israel)
“Più Buio Di Mezzanote,” Sebastiano Riso (Italy)
“The Tribe,” Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy (Ukraine)
“It Follows,” David Robert Mitchell (U.S.)
“Gente De Bien,” Franco Lolli (Colombia)
“When Animals Dream,” Jonas Alexander Arnby (Denmark)
“Hope,” Boris Lojkine (France)
“Self Made,” Shira Geffen (Israel)
While the 10 shorts selected are:
“Safari,” Gerardo Herrero (Spain)
“The Chicken,” Una Gunjak (Croatia)
“Crocodile,” Gaëlle Denis (UK)
“Une Chambre Bleue,” Tomasz Siwi?ski (Poland)
“TrueLoveStory,” Gitanjali Rao (India)
“Petit Frère,” Rémi St-Michel (Canada)
“A Ciambra,” Jonas Carpignano (Italy)
“La Contre-Allée,” Cécile Ducrocq (France)
“Les fleuves m”ont laissée descendre où je voulais,” Laurie Lassalle (France)
“Boa Noite Cinderela,” Carlos Conceiçao (Portugal)