Critics’ Week, the sidebar dedicated to first and second films running alongside the Cannes Film Festival, will be kicking off with Jesse Eisenberg’s feature debut “When You Finish Saving the World” and showcase four female-directed movies.
“When You Finish Saving the World,” which is headlined by Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard, revolves around the relationship between a politically-engaged mother and her fame-obsessed teenage son, who is also a burgeoning musician. The A24 movie is based on Eisenberg’s 2020 audio drama of the same name and was part of the Sundance 2022 selection.
“We already adored Eisenberg as an actor and discovered him as a true auteur with this film that’s both tender and contemporary and exposes a generational gap between a mother and her son,” said Ava Cahen, who replaced Charles Tesson as artistic director of Critics Week last August after serving on the selection committee for several years.
“The independent American cinema landscape has been impacted by the health crisis, challenged by streamers, and while we favor world premieres at Critics’ Week, we felt that it since Sundance was held online, it would be an act of solidarity to shine a spotlight on this beautiful film on opening night,” said Cahen, who admitted to being a lover of American cinema since her young age, having been raised by a father who enjoyed Western films and a mother who had her watched “Alien” and “Shining” before the age of 8.
Besides “When You Finish Saving the World,” the Special Screenings include South Korean director Jung July with “Da-eum-so-hee” (“Next Sohee”), a gripping feminist crime starring Bae Doo-na, the famed actor whose played in films by Hirozaku Kore-eda, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho. The other two Special Screenings of this edition are Clément Cogitore’s anticipated follow up to “After The Wakhan Front,” “Sons of Ramses,” a mystical film noir set in the 18th arrondissement of Paris starring Karim Leklou as an influential psychic; and Céline Devaux’s “Everybody Loves Jeanne,” a romantic comedy blending live action and animation set between Paris and Lisbon, starring Blanche Gardin and Laurent Lafitte.
The competition boasts British helmer Charlotte Wells’s “Aftersun,” a bittersweet comedy-drama starring “Normal People” actor Paul Mescal and Francesca Corio as a father and daughter who spend a summer holiday in a resort where people dance the Macarena.
French-Portuguese director Cristèle Alves Meira will unveil “Alma Viva,” a film following a child and her superstious grandmother in a Portuguese village; while Belgian helmer Emmanuelle Nicot will present “Love According to Dalva,” a poignant drama about a 12-year-old girl growing up in foster care, alongside social workers and other children.
Aiming to represent singular films from across the world, Critics’ Week will also world premiere “A taxi in Tehran at night,” the feature debut of Iranian director Ali Behrad. Cahen described the film as a “pop, contemporary romantic road movie, filled with mystery and fantasy.” Leila Hatami (“A Separation”) stars.
Finnish helmer Mikko Myllylahti will also attend Critics’ Week with his debut, “Metsurin tarina” (“The Woodcutter Story”), a tragicomedy about a woodcutter and his son who go fishing and investigate.
Other anticipated Critics’ Week competition contenders include Andrés Ramírez Pulido’s “La Jauría,” a dark Colombian film set in the rainforest at an experimental rehabilitation center for tough boys; French director Simon Rieth’s “Nos Cérémonies” (“Summer Scars”) which weaves a coming-of-age story and a fantastic tale about two brothers.
At 36, Cahen is the youngest artistic director of a major competitive festival section and she’s expected to continue what Tesson has established with the inclusion of light-hearted comedies, along with more intimate dramas and subtly political films and a few genre titles thrown in the mix. Cahen joined the committee in 2016, the year that “Raw,” the feature debut of Palme d’Or winning director Julia Ducournau, was selected. Cahen also cited Jeremy Clapin’s Oscar-nominated animated feature “I Lost My Body,” the fantasy/SF film “Diamantino” and coming-of-age drama “Shéhérazade” as successful movies that she helped select at Critics’ Week.
As previously announced, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania (“The Man who Sold his Skin”) will preside over the jury which will be completed by French-Greek actress and director Ariane Labed, Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson (“Woman at War”), Belgian cinematographer Benoît Debie, and South Korean journalist and Busan Festival’s topper Huh Moon yung.
The strand is set to take place May 18-26.