“This could be a cult classic” – Cannes 2023 round-up
09 June 2023
As the dust settles on the year’s biggest film industry event, we’ve been taking a look through what the critics said about the seven titles at the festival either supported by our Hubert Bals Fund or presented at CineMart. Topping the list of honours are the prizes for debuts from Amanda Nell Eu and Thien An Pham, but across the board the films met a glowing reception. Read on for our run-down!
“Bristles with supernatural energy.”
Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu’s coming-of-age body horror claimed the Grand Prix in the sidebar Semaine de la Critique. “Irreverent and uncompromising, Tiger Stripes does not try to please, it is content to fully assume its seductive singularity,” the 2023 jury president Audrey Diwan told Screen International.
“This is a film to celebrate the monsters out there – the people who don’t fit in and who are rejected by society,” said Eu to the Hollywood Reporter, who labelled the film a “Cannes hidden gem.” They described it as a “playfully subversive story about a young girl confronting the horrors of puberty”, drawing on “1950s-era Malaysian monster cinema for a genre-bending tale.” It “bristles with supernatural energy”, wrote The Guardian, “thanks to a tremendous young cast.”
“The mysteries that confound and beguile us.”
Vietnamese writer-director Thien An Pham’s debut feature Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell was the second IFFR-supported title to take home a prize at Cannes, winning the Caméra d'Or award for best first feature film presented across all the Cannes selections. The film is a journey across the mystical landscape of Vietnam, interrupted by enthralling dreams and re-awakened desires.
Writing for Screen Anarchy, Ankit Jhunjhunwala was particularly struck by the film: “it's..so accomplished that it’s beggars belief this is a debut feature.” Using the 69 shots that comprise the over three hour running time as case and proof, he describes “a searching, grasping film, willing to engage with the mysteries that confound and beguile us.” IndieWire described the film’s spellbinding effects, writing that you become “lost in its sense of time, to the extent that you can almost forget the presence of the camera even when it is moving.”
Film still: Tiger Stripes
Film still: Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell
“This could be a cult classic.”
“If Pedro Almodóvar and Eric Rohmer teamed up to compose a meanderingly long crime caper” it might look like Los delincuentes, the latest from Argentinian director Rodrigo Moreno, according to Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. “This could be a cult classic” he writes in his five star review, adding “there is something so seductive in this unlikely adventure.” Described as eccentric, seriocomic and beguilingly surreal, the film tells the story of two bank employees who commit a crime in order to escape the confines of their daily lives. The project was presented at our co-production market CineMart in 2015, and screened in Cannes Un Certain Regard.
Bradshaw also had kind words for another IFFR-backed Argentinian film at Cannes, Eureka, the latest from Lisandro Alonso. A non-narrative collection of tales depicting indigenous lives across the Americas, it’s described as both “entirely fascinating” and “entirely bizarre” leaving the “feeling that through drifting downstream along the river course of this film and gazing at the foliage on either bank, some progress of the soul is being achieved. It is an enriching experience.”
“An extreme existential poignance.”
Put together from over two thousand hours of footage shot over five years in the garment factories of Zhili, Wang Bing’s HBF-backed Youth (Spring) was the first of his films to compete for the Palme d’Or. Vox described it as an “extraordinary” documentary with “an extreme existential poignance” in how it sensitively reflects on the film’s teen and early-20s protagonists who spend their youth toiling in the workshops. Little White Lies praised Wang’s ability to find “such immersion into a subject, such richness in portraiture.”
Georgian filmmaker Elene Naveriani’s Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, presented at CineMart in 2022, is a tale of sexual awakening for the film’s 48-year-old protagonist. “Simple in its mysteriousness, Naveriani crafts an irresistible portrait of a lady”, praised IONCINEMA.com. Presented alongside it in the Quinzaine des Cinéastes, was Légua by Portuguese filmmakers Filipa Reis and João Miller Guerra who brought the project to CineMart in 2021. The International Cinephile Society offered praise for “the beauty and mystery of the storytelling” whilst Film Enquiry highlighted the “at times delicious” visual style of the film: “the inky emulsions, saturated blues, and earth tones are enough to seduce any inquiring mind.”
Film still: Youth (Spring)
Film still: Légua