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CANNES 2024 Semana de la Crítica

Ava Cahen • Directora artística, Semana de la Crítica

"Los largometrajes en la competición nos invitan a ver el mundo a través de nuevos ojos"

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- La directora artística de la sección paralela del Festival de Cannes comenta su selección de este año

Ava Cahen • Directora artística, Semana de la Crítica

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

Ava Cahen, the artistic director of Critics’ Week since last year, met with Cineuropa to explain the films (read our article) in this year’s parallel section, whose 63rd edition is unspooling between 15 and 24 May within the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

Cineuropa: How did the selection process unfold?
Ava Cahen:
We had to rise to all the same challenges as in previous editions. The aim of the game is to explore films wherever they’re produced, all over the world. So we did a lot of prospecting, travelling to a huge number of workshops and festivals to meet producers, sales agents, distributors and obviously filmmakers too. We received a higher number of feature films than usual, an impressive 1,050 movies. Like last year, we’ve realised that Asia is doing really well, which is clear from the Official Selection and the Directors’ Fortnight when it comes to India, whereas in our section, Taiwan is in favour. South America is also in good shape, especially Brazil which is making a return to Critics’ Week in competition. Maghrebi cinema is also evolving and we’re especially mindful of the African continent which has an Egyptian documentary in competition this year. And, of course, there’s French cinema, with lots of first and second feature films in particular, films whose full spectrum of colours we’re keen to showcase. We had to weigh things up, play the cards we were dealt, whilst always rising to the challenges of representation, diversity and equality, which I sadly didn’t manage this year. My efforts along these lines are ongoing, but I’m really happy to have three women directors in the selection: one French, one Egyptian and one American.

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Did you pick up on any trends in terms of themes?
Compared to last year, the themes explored might be considered more social or societal and, more generally speaking, our selection does revolve around themes of immigration, integration, discrimination, sexism and the emancipation of women. But it’s the films rather than the themes that we choose. We’ve selected films which always try to find a bit of hope and light in this brutal world.

What led you to choose the seven feature films in competition?
Most of them are dramas, but with differing tones and character traits. Thanks to the power of cinema and the tools it employs, these films help us to see the world through new eyes. They depict characters or people whom society tends to overlook. At a time when Argentine cinema is under serious threat from the populist government’s restrictions, we’ll be showing a very unique, disconcerting and profoundly human Argentine film by Federico Luis called Simon de la montaña, which is a coming-of-age film experience which helps us grow by making us think about our outlook on disability. And it does so in a very carnal and authentic way, as do all the films in competition, each in their own way, from the Taiwanese neo-film-noir in the selection to Keff’s masterful film direction in Locust [+lee también:
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and Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir’s wonderful activist documentary The Brink of Dreams [+lee también:
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entrevista: Nada Riyadh, Ayman El Amir
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, which is about a group of women artists who want to live out their lives and their dreams without the consent of men. I’m also thrilled to have two films with an LGBT thrust in competition: Marcelo Caetano’s mega-romantic Brazilian melodrama Baby [+lee también:
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and French director Antoine Chevrollier’s Block Pass [+lee también:
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entrevista: Antoine Chevrollier
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, which we found mesmerising. Moreover – and this is the driving force behind Critics’ Week – we’re not only shining a light on young emerging filmmakers this year, we’re also foregrounding a whole new generation of actors and actresses, such as in Block Pass and Alexis LangloisQueens of Drama [+lee también:
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, which is showing in a special screening. Audiences will also get to discover a wonderful actor called Ayoub Gretaa in Saïd Hamich Benlarbi’s Across the Sea [+lee también:
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entrevista: Saïd Hamich Benlarbi
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and will find Adam Bessa’s talent confirmed in Jonathan Millet’s Ghost Trail [+lee también:
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entrevista: Jonathan Millet
entrevista: Pauline Seigland
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According to the artistic director of the Directors’ Fortnight, there’s a tense climate at present, linked to the increasing influence selection in Cannes has on films’ careers. What are your thoughts on this?
I wouldn’t say it’s tense, but this year has been more competitive because – as Thierry Frémaux said – there have been fewer well-known and well-established authors with works which could be shown in the official competition or in the Un Certain Regard section. So the attention of the different selections has been shifted onto first and second films. We received 1,050 feature films, and the Official Selection, the Directors’ Fortnight and the ACID line-up obviously saw the same films that we did. There are bound to be shared tastes, but it’s actually more a matter of negotiating than fighting. The question you have to ask is, what is the best place for a film, how do we exhibit it in a bright and peaceful way, and how do we shower it with love, because first films are incredibly fragile. The historic home of first and second films in Cannes is Critics’ Week. So I deal with a whole series of constraints, firstly linked to the 11 spaces available in Critics’ Week and then to the morally virtuous desire to represent diversity. Clearly, things have become more strained, but every year is incredibly different. What I’ve noticed is that the selection is always the result of certain choices. In Critics’ Week, we gamble on the future, it’s at the heart of our mission, and I think we do well by our films when I see the careers of women directors like Charlotte Wells, Emmanuelle Nicot and Iris Kaltenbäck, or that of Stéphan Castang’s Vincent Must Die [+lee también:
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entrevista: Stéphan Castang
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. The Cannes Film Festival’s identity is plural, and the aim is to live up to what the Cannes Film Festival truly is, which isn’t always easy because it’s the biggest festival in the world. Critics’ Week doesn’t try to play in the same arena as the Official Selection or the Directors’ Fortnight, it tries to complement them, to have its own identity and to be coherent. But I’d be thrilled to see a more collective approach.

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(Traducción del francés)

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