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CANNES 2018 Critics' Week

Charles Tesson • Artistic director, Critics' Week

"This is the first time we’ve had so much high-quality European content"

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- Charles Tesson, artistic director of Cannes Critics' Week, comments on the 2018 selection

Charles Tesson • Artistic director, Critics' Week
(© Aurélie Lamachère)

Charles Tesson, artistic director of the Critics' Week (57th edition from 9-17 May at the 71st Cannes Film Festival), analyses the 2018 selection (read the article here).

Cineuropa: How did the selection process go? Did you get the films you were hoping for?
Charles Tesson: We got the films we liked, that's the most important thing. This is the first time we’ve had so much high-quality European content to choose from. There are also a lot of women directors in the selection, but that's more of a coincidence, as it just so happens that there have been so many films we've liked by women directors this year. There is no quota, but they have an interesting perspective on reality, and I think it's good to at least partially renew the films that we tend to watch, which can sometimes become repetitive. There’s definitely some originality to the selection, not in terms of the subject matter, but more in terms of the way these subject matters are approached.

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The competition includes several films that appear to be very original upon first glance. Are today's young filmmakers more focused on exploring different forms and mixing genres?
We used to talk about genre films respecting the rules of the genre or renewing those rules, but these days a lot of filmmakers have shifted their focus. Genre is definitely still an element of filmmaking, but advancing or belonging to a genre is no longer the end goal. Fugue [+see also:
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interview: Agnieszka Smoczyńska
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]
is a good example of that. Agnieszka Smoczynska could have made a realistic Polish film about a woman who disappears and then returns, and there is definitely a realistic aspect to the film, but there’s also a psychoanalytic thriller aspect to it that’s a bit Hitchcock-esque, an explanatory trauma that she experiences again or is scared to experience again, just like in The Shining. The good thing is that gender doesn’t result in a digression, but is more a way of approaching things differently. The same thing can be said for Chris the Swiss [+see also:
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interview: Anja Kofmel
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]
by Anja Kofmel, which is even more original in its heterogeneity. The director's cousin was a war journalist during the conflict in former Yugoslavia, on the Croatian side. He then joined the far-right Christian militia and died, but it's unclear why. So the film includes a personal investigation, but also a journalistic investigation, plus archived footage and animated scenes. The film is truly amazing. As for Diamantino [+see also:
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interview: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Sc…
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]
by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, the film is a farce, a very intelligent satire about football. This is of course inspired by Ronaldo, but it's mostly a film about the political use of the national hero and heroic, chauvinistic nationalism. The subject is approached as a parody of James Bond, series Z. It's pretty over-the-top, but you get a lot out of it. 

On the other hand, realism is also very present in the young French cinema that you have selected.
Sauvage [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Camille Vidal-Naquet
film profile
]
by Camille Vidal-Naquet has a documentary side to it. We felt that the filmmaker wanted to create a fiction film nourished by reality. The world of male prostitution is rarely touched upon in cinema, it's a taboo that the film transgresses, but the film is also a real tragedy that searches for a hero between love and sexuality. It’s a film noir, a thriller, so many different things... Shéhérazade [+see also:
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]
by Jean-Bernard Marlin is similar in that it’s inspired by a news story. A 16-year-old boy is arrested for pimping, but the story is treated more as a love story. The film explores this contradiction using street actors who are just out of prison, while staying very close to the characters. It’s a very beautiful classic love story. What I like about these two films is that this Pasolini-esque realism is transcended by a very strong sense of romance and tragedy.

Engagement is also at the heart of several films in the selection.
What really struck me – and this is definitely reflected in our selection – is that all the films have some sort of social, political or domestic commitment. Our Struggles [+see also:
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interview: Guillaume Senez
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]
by the Belgian director Guillaume Senez is aperfect example. The protagonist, the awesome Romain Duris, is a worker who is very caught up in union activities and less involved in his romantic and family life. One day his wife disappears, and he doesn’t know why. He finds himself taking care of his children while trying to balance his family and work life. The film has a sort of Laurent Cantet-esque realism to it, but with an important woman’s perspective on the commitment of men in politics and the working world. Woman at War [+see also:
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interview: Benedikt Erlingsson
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]
by Benedikt Erlingsson is the same sort of thing, except that it’s been shot in a very fun and charming way with a little Wes Anderson to it at times. It's about an Icelandic Amazon woman who is fighting a battle against big polluting industries, while also wanting to adopt a child. There’s a mix of intimacy and commitment in the film, and a certain balance that must be found. Finally, Sir [+see also:
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by the Indian director Rohena Gerait is also about intimacy, and is a love story that focuses on the class barriers that make it inconceivable to fall in love with a domestic worker, who will always be viewed as a domestic worker and never a woman.

And getting back to the directors and their view of reality as women, we’ve also selected One Day [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Zsófia Szilágyi
film profile
]
by the Hungarian director Zsófia Szilágyi. It's about a day when a woman learns that her husband is having an affair, but life must go on. The film’s point of view is great because we see how the intimate concerns of her romantic life are just a grain of sand in her life, and ultimately ends up disrupting her Herculean daily work. The perspective is amazing.

(Translated from French)

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