Charles Bramesco


The Director’s Fortnight and Critic’s Week sidebars bolster a packed Cannes

Films from Michel Gondry, Manoel de Oliveira, and a slew of newcomers will play alongside the Official Selection announced last week.

Last week set the international arthouse circuit abuzz with the reveal of the Cannes Film Festival’s program of Official Selection titles, encompassing both the uppermost-level Competition and the second-most-prestigious Un Certain Regard sections, but that was only the beginning. A few straggler picks will be added in the days to come, but today brings a windfall of additions through the sidebars playing just a short jaunt from the Palais des Festivals down the beach-adjacent Boulevard de Croisette.

The Director’s Fortnight programmers unloaded their full lineup this morning on Twitter, with an emphasis on up-and-comers under the radar as well as first-timers. The slate features an international array of six debut features: Thien An Pham’s Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, Ilya Povolotsky’s Grace, Zarrar Kahn’s In Flames, Weston Razooli’s Riddle of Fire, Zihan Geng’s A Song Sung Blue, and Joanna Arnow’s The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed. Having not seen any of these films, your humble news reporter is nonetheless obligated (in part by journalistic protocol) to declare Arnow’s the best of the bunch, and to disclose that that’s because I shot a few lines of dialogue for one scene last summer.

The Fortnight attracts the most attention for the known names, however, and they’ve got a handful of biggies this year. The absurdly prolific Hong Sang-soo will close out the section with In Our Day, his second new feature of the year, which should leave plenty of time for a third or perhaps fourth as the fall festival season ramps up. Sean Price Williams, go-to cinematographer for the Safdie brothers and Alex Ross Perry, isn’t technically making his feature directing debut with the reportedly ribald road picture Sweet East — he co-directed the little-seen Eyes Find Eyes in 2011 — but it represents a re-arrival all the same. French wizard of whimsy Michel Gondry will show his comedy The Book of Solutions, rumored to be a faintly autobiographical work about a filmmaker battling his demons. And Portuguese legend Manoel de Oliveira will make an appearance from beyond the grave, his 1993 film Abraham’s Valley to be played as a Special Screening.

Riding high after launching the runaway success of Aftersun last year, the Critic’s Week programmers also pulled back the curtain on their 2023 selections, an eclectic mix of possible breakouts. From Brazil, Lillah Halla’s queer pregnancy drama Power Alley; from South Korea, the somnambulant horror flick Sleep directed by Bong Joon-ho’s former protgege Jason Yu; from Malaysia, Amanda Eu’s dark coming-of-age genre-bender Tiger Stripes; from France, Iris Kaltenbäck’s baby-snatching psychothriller Le Ravisssement; from Serbia, Vladimir Perišić’s political drama Lost Country, set during the country’s 1996 anti-Milošević student protests; from Jordan, Amjad Al Rasheed’s feminist character study Inshallah a Boy; and from Belgium, Paloma Sermon-Daï’s “hybrid drama” Il Pleut Dans La Maison, in which a pair of teen siblings while away an ennui-stricken summer while left alone by their mother.

Anticipation among cinephiles has now kicked into the rabid register, with only a few short weeks separating us all from the deluge of premieres that comes with each Cannes Film Festival. As a preview of what we’ll spend the next twelve months talking about, it offers a peek into the future, and the rest of 2023 looks mighty bright.

The 2023 Cannes Film Festival runs from 16 to 27 May.

Published 18 Apr 2023

Tags: Hong Sang-soo Manoel de Oliveira Michel Gondry Sean Price Williams

Suggested For You

24 curious facts about the Cannes Film Festival

By Saskia Lloyd Gaiger

Some of the best nuggets of glitz and scandal throughout the history of the most famous international film festival.

Does Netflix deserve a place at Cannes?

By Georgina Guthrie

The festival has caused a stir by banning the digital distributor from its official competition.

The year revolution brought the Cannes Film Festival to a halt

By Justine Smith

The events of May ’68 had a profound impact on the film world.

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.