Majority of Cannes Critics’ Week Competition Films Were Directed by Women

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In what is believed to be a first, the French Union of Film Critics selected a majority of films by female directors for competition in the International Critics’ Week sidebar at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The seven competition titles in Critics’ Week, announced Monday, will include four directed by women: Agnieszka Smoczynska’s “Fugue” (pictured above),  Anja Kofmel’s “Chris the Swiss,” Rohena Gera’s “Sir” and Sofia Szilagyi’s “One Day.”

They will compete against Benedikt Erlingsson’s “Kona Fer I Strid” (Woman at War”), Camille Vidal-Naquet’s “Sauvage,” and Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt’s “Diamantino.”

“Wildlife,” Paul Dano’s adaptation of a Richard Ford novel starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, will open the sidebar in a special screening. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is the only American film chosen.

Also Read: Paul Dano’s ‘Wildlife

Guillaume Senez’s “Our Struggles” will also be presented as a special screening, while Alex Katz’s “Guy” will close the section.

Critics’ Week is run independently of the main festival but takes place concurrently. The selection is devoted to first and second films from new directors — and its directorial debuts, including “Wildlife,” are eligible for Cannes’ Camera d’Or for the festival’s best first film.

International Critics’ Week (Semaine de la Critique) is organized by the French Union of Film Critics, which is made up of 244 critics, writers and journalists. The oldest parallel section to the Cannes Film Festival, it began in 1962.

Also Read: Cannes Lineup Reaches From Spike Lee to Jean-Luc Godard

The winners will be chosen by a jury headed by Danish director Joachim Trier and also including American actress Chloe Sevigny, Argentinian actor Nahuel Perez Biscayart, festival programmer Eva Sangiori and French journalist Augustin Trapenard.

Critics’ Week also announced 10 short films in competition, three of them by female directors.

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‘BPM (Beats Per Minute)’ Star Warns AIDS Epidemic Is Not Over

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At a screening of the French film “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” an audience member named Keith stood up during a Q&A with Director Robin Campillo and revealed himself as an AIDS survivor. Filled with emotion, he said Campillo’s film captured his experience suffering from the diseases in the mid 1980s and that it reminded him that people still die regularly from AIDS as a result of ignorance and indifference.

“I’ve been screaming for four years that the epidemic is not over, that we’re still going to go through this,” the man, who only identified himself as Keith, said during TheWrap’s Awards and Foreign Language Screening Series at the Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “It’s not over, and this film is perfect for right now. Whether you intended it to be or not, it is, because I’ve been trying to bridge this younger community toward strengths, and you’re getting total denial of any of it because they don’t know history.”

“BPM” is the French Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2018 awards, and it won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Grand Prize of the Jury when it premiered at this year’s Cannes. It’s in part a colorful, lively film about political activism in the face of AIDS, but it’s also an intimate gay romance between two dying lovers.

Also Read: ‘BPM’ Review: Powerful AIDS Drama Could Be Awards Bound

“For me, living it, that’s my life in a lot of ways,” Keith said. “I love the fact that you made it long, because everyone started squirming the longer it went, and that’s how it felt every single day for 10 years. You were uncomfortable constantly, but yet you were connected and bonded.”

“BPM” focuses on the work of the activist group Act Up Paris, of which Campillo was a member in the early ’90s. Their radical demonstrations targeted politicians and pharmaceutical companies that withheld information and didn’t do enough to fuel prevention and medical research. But they also targeted schools and those in the LGBT community who wanted to avoid the truth of the epidemic. “Silence = Death,” signs in the film read, and “BPM” is a film about refusing to behave.

“For 10 years, we were such nice gay guys, victims of the epitome. People were crying over us, and it was full of indifference to the drug users and prostitutes.” Campillo told TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly. “We were fed up with being the good gays. We wanted to be evil fags and outcast dykes. If people were afraid of us as gays and lesbians, we choose to use this fear as a weapon.”

Also Read: More Cannes Awards Go to ‘120 Beats Per Minute,’ ‘Visages, Villages’ – and a Poodle

“BPM” star Arnaud Valois explained how this role helped him to speak up to younger LGBT people about the history of the AIDS crisis as well.

“They weren’t aware that people could actually die from AIDS,” Valois said. “They are really shocked. They want to be part of something now, to be part of this group, and the power of this group is something they are really into when they watch the movie. They ask Nahuel [Perez Biscayart] and I, ‘should I go in a group for prevention or protection?’ It’s up to you, but just do it.”

“Indifference is even more dangerous than the far right,” Campillo added, speaking of the need to go beyond armchair activism on social media. “In Act Up, before confronting the politicians, we knew we have to confront each other, and that creates better politics. We are much more intelligent, much more clever together.”

Also Read: Activists Demand Hillary Clinton End AIDS Epidemic by 2025 After Reagan Gaffe

Campillo said he first went to an Act Up meeting because he had a sex date, but the guy he was meeting never showed. Five years later he was still a member, motivated by the rousing, fast-paced political debates as depicted in the film. Working on the group’s signage and slogans inspired his creativity and taught him to be a director and one day tell Act Up’s story.

“It took me 35 years,” Campillo said. “I did it when I had enough distance from this narrative in my life. A lot of people were asking me if I did it because of the political situation in the world. But I did it because I thought it was the right time to do it for myself.”

The Orchard is distributing “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” and just released it in limited release on October 20.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘BPM’ Review: Powerful AIDS Drama Could Be Awards Bound

TheWrap Launches 2017 Award Season Screening Series in LA, Adds New York

Oscar Foreign Language Film Race 2017: Complete List of Contenders