Cannes Critics' Week to feature groundbreaking Malaysian film 'Tiger Stripes'

La Semaine de la Critique, the parallel selection of the Festival de Cannes dedicated to first and second films just announced its lineup, and they include a MENA gem, along with this coming-of-age genre film you won't want to miss!
Cannes Critics' Week to feature groundbreaking Malaysian film 'Tiger Stripes'

In the past weeks, La Semaine de la Critique -- Critics' Week -- announced that journalist, editor and screenwriter Audrey Diwan will head the jury for their 62nd edition. In 2021, Happening, Diwan's second feature, shakes up Venice Film Festival where it is awarded the Golden Lion. Diwan was the second female French director to take home the prize, 36 years after Agnès Varda’s Vagabond. Of Lebanese descent, Diwan will be joined by Portuguese director of photography Rui Poças (Tabu by Miguel Gomes, Zama by Lucretia Martel, Will-o'-the-Wisp by João Pedro Rodrigues), German actor, choreograph and dancer Franz Rogowski (A Hidden Life by Terrence Malick, Undine by Christian Petzold, Disco Boy by Giacomo Abbruzzese), Indian journalist, curator and advisor to the programming of the Berlin Film Festival, Meenakshi Shedde as well as by American film programmer Kim Yutani, Sundance’s Film Festival programming director.

The Semaine, as they're affectionately called by Cannes insiders, also unveiled this year's poster which features a still from last year's film Aftersun, the first feature by Scottish director Charlotte Wells, whose career was kicked off on the Croisette. The image, by photographer and artist Sarah Makharine "captures a warm embrace between the protagonists, Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. A moment out of time, intimate and graceful, a simple gesture that envelops and reassures. Both a discovery and an encounter: two stunning actors meet across generations, revealing their potent and subtle interpretations of the film’s familiar - and yet novel - images," as the sidebar's website states.

On a humid Monday morning, Ava Cahen, the Artistic Director of the Semaine, unveiled the line up for the features selected. In their press kit, Cahen admits that the selection committed "watched 2,100 short films and 1,000 features. Among the 11 selected films for this year’s edition, 7 are first films and 6 were directed by women. Coordinated by Marie-Pauline Mollaret, the short-film committee selected 10 films for the competition and a special screening of three films." With the shorts program to be unveiled on Wednesday, April 19th.

This year's opening film will be Ama Gloria, the first solo film by French director Marie Amachoukeli – winner of the Caméra d’Or for Party Girl, which she co-directed with Claire Burger and Samuel Theis. I wrote about the film in 2014 for the HuffPost and you can read an interview with the three filmmakers here.

The Semaine will come to a close with the French film No Love Lost, which Cahen called "Erwan Le Duc’s delectable second feature." Two films will screen out of competition, one is Stéphan Castang’s Vincent Must Die, featuring Karim Leklou, with whom I caught up in Venice when he starred in the Orizzonti title For My Country. And the second film screening out of competition is The Ex(perience) of Love, Ann Sirot's and Raphaël Balboni's new fantastical journey, starring Lucie Debayand Lazare Gousseau.

In between, there are seven wonders, seven great films in competition, all vying for the Grand Prize, the Prix French Touch du Jury, the Prix Fondation Louis Roederer de la Révélation for a rising star, actor or actress, along with the partner prizes which include the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution, Prix SACD and The Caméra d’or -- the latter selected for the best debut film across all the Cannes sections, the Official Selection, the Directors’ Fortnight and La Semaine de la Critique.

My favorite of course, because of a very personal attachment to the project is Tiger Stripes (pictured above) by first time filmmaker Amanda Nell Eu, hailing from Malaysia. The film is a wondrous feat of a film and offers a "new, witty, and extravagant take on teenage metamorphosis and rebellion. A surprising and delightful fantasy film that celebrates young women’s desire to let loose in a society that aims to firmly discipline them," as the Semaine's announcement describes it. My lips are sealed as far as story and themes, but I will say that mentoring Eu and her producer Fei Ling Foo in Doha -- the project was a Qumra participant at the DFI industry incubator this year -- was a true joy. I can't wait to see how they will conquer the hearts of everyone on the Croisette.

Making history instead is Inshallah Walad (Inshallah a boy) -- the very first film from Jordan to be presented at La Semaine de la Critique. Amjad Al Rasheed’s first film is "the deeply moving portrait of Nawal -- a care worker, a widow and mother of a young girl -- who is fighting like hell for her independence, played by Palestinian actress Mouna Hawa. She imbues this radiant, determined warrior with the gravitas of the greatest female heroes in the history of cinema," as the Semaine website discloses. The film picked up quite a few financing awards throughout the Arab world, as is a Saudi/Qatari/French/Jordanian co-production.

The other features in the line up are:

Il pleut dans la maison by Paloma Sermon-Daï, Belgium - France / 1H23

Jam (Sleep) by Jason Yu, South Korea / 1H39

Levante (Power Alley) by Lillah Halla, Brazil - France - Uruguay / 1H32

Lost Country by Vladimir Perisič, France - Serbia - Luxembourg - Croatia / 1H38

Le ravissement by Iris Kaltenbäck, France / 1H37

Short films were then added on the following day, with Egypt represented by Morad Mostafa's film but also a story from Jerusalem in Via Dolorosa.

The short films in the lineup are:

Arkhé by Armando Navarro, Mexico 05 mins

Boléro by Nans Laborde-Jourdàa, France 17 mins

Contadores by Irati Gorostidi Agirretxe, Spain 19 mins

Corpos Cintilantes Shimmering Bodies | Corps by Inês Teixeira, Portugal 23 mins

I Promise You Paradise by Morad Mostafa, Egypt 25 mins

Krokodyl by Dawid Bodzak, Poland 19 mins

La saison pourpre/The purple season by Clémence Bouchereau, France 10 mins

Prava istina priče o šori/The Real Truth about the Fight by Andrea Slaviček, Croatia/Spain 14 mins

Via Dolorosa by Rachel Gutgarts, France 11 mins

Walking with Her into the Night by Hui Shu, China 30 mins

Check out La Semaine de la Critique's website for more info.

Top image courtesy of Ghost Grrrl Pictures, used with permission.

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