This year’s Critics’ Week jury, presided over by Ronit Elkabetz (other members: Katell Quillévéré, Peter Suschitzky, Andréa Picard and Boyd van Hoeij) has presented the The Nespresso Grand Prize to Santiago Mitre’s Paulina. This “contemporary remake of the 1960 Argentinean classic La Patota contemplates the aftershock of sexual assault with a psychological complexity that extends beyond the victim to her family and friends, to the perpetrators and bystanders, and even to the justice system itself,” writes David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. “Driven by a powerfully internalized performance from Dolores Fonzi as the title character, Paulina eschews straightforward answers in favor of questioning observation. While some might find its subtle intensity distancing in relation to the brutality of the plot’s central event, the film is an affecting consideration of how one woman weighs the experience of rape against her social convictions.”
Writing for Sight & Sound, Chloe Roddick calls Paulina “a psychologically nuanced exploration of political idealism.” And at Cineuropa, Bénédicte Prot calls it “a beautiful tribute to female determination and humanity.”
Update, 5/22: “Less arid than Mitre’s 2011 feature directing debut, The Student, which used a story of university politics to comment on political dealmaking in Argentina,” Paulina “is likewise at once allegorical and concrete,” writes Ben Kenigsberg for Variety. “According to a director’s note, Mitre was interested in substituting political convictions for the original’s religious dimensions. It’s the sort of conflation that the Dardenne brothers pulled off in Lorna’s Silence, but here the results are less convincing…. Paulina’s single-minded martyr tendencies will push many viewers’ identification closer to her father, who rails against her ‘incomprehensible crusade.’ That ambiguity makes for a pointed intellectual exercise even as it plays like a dramaturgical flaw.”
The France 4 Visionary Award, presented for “outstanding creativity and innovation,” goes to Cesar Augusto Acevedo’s Land and Shade. THR‘s Jordan Mintzer: “A beautifully crafted, leisurely paced portrait of a Colombian family holding on while the world is literally engulfed in flames around them, Land and Shade (La Tierra y la Sombra) clearly belongs to what’s known as the ‘slow cinema’ genre, offering up some intoxicating visuals but taking its precious time in the storytelling department.” Alfonso (Haimer Leal) “is returning to the home he left many years ago, where the rest of his family has stuck by trying to make a living farming the nearby fields. But with fires burning every night to clear the land, Alfonso’s son, Gerardo (Edison Raigosa) has developed a deadly lung disease, leaving his wife (Marleyda Soto) and mother (Hilda Ruiz) to do the difficult work in his place. Capturing much of the action in a series of well-choreographed sequence shots, Acevedo and DP Mateo Guzman provide an array of roving, memorable images, including.. one involving a horse that’s straight out of an Andrei Tarkovksy movie.”
For Thomas Humphrey at Cineuropa, Land and Shade “spell-bindingly related a rural consciousness to its audiences. This was because the film abounds with aural rhythms, and it generates a gloriously enthralling sense of depth and movement. It does this by constantly having characters move towards and across the camera, whilst the camera itself always slowly creeps to and from the protagonists.”
The Sony CineAlta Discovery Prize, presented to one of the ten short and mid-length films in competition, goes to Fulvio Risuleo’s Varicella. The trailer:
Then there are the awards presented by Critics’ Week partners. The Canal+ Award, also given to a short of mid-length film, goes to Andrei Cretulescu’s Ramona. The trailer:
The SACD Award, presented by filmmakers that are members of the board of directors of the Authors Society, goes to Land and Shade.
And winning the Gan Foundation Support for Distribution is Clément Cogitore’s The Wakhan Front. Click the title for reviews.