A year after having crowned Aftersun by Charlotte Wells, a delicate and misleading holiday story questioning the figure of a father who disappeared too quickly, Critics' Week, dedicated on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival to first and second films, remained at the bedside of youth and their questions. The jury, chaired by French director Audrey Diwan (L'Évènement, golden lion in Venice), awarded its Grand Prize on Wednesday to Malaysian Amanda Nell Eu for Tiger Stripes, a film about puberty mixing teenage comedy and horror.
A tale of emancipation, the film follows 12-year-old Zaffan, who lives in a small rural community in Malaysia. She sees her body transforming at an alarming rate. Struggling to stay normal at school, Zaffan attempts to hide "his grotesque self". But soon this is no longer possible, and she is humiliated in front of her entire class. Her friends turn away from her when a mass hysteria hits the school. Fear spreads and a doctor intervenes to chase away the demon that haunts the girls. “Zaffan is forced into an exorcism involving extreme methods of shame and torture. And like a tiger that has been dragged from its habitat and stung because we fear it, because we don't know it, Zaffan finally rises and decides to reveal to everyone what she has been hiding – her true nature. , his anger, his rage and his beauty”, specifies the synopsis.
Sometimes gory, Tiger Stripes has drawn comparisons with Grave by Julia Ducournau, discovered at Critics' Week in 2016, then awarded the Palme d'Or in 2021 for Titanium. Having spent her adolescence in England, a graduate of the London Film School, Amanda Nell Eu says she was inspired by "tales and legends of Southeast Asia which, through their stories, reflect and comment on the patriarchy". “In Tiger Stripes, the adults are almost caricatures. As a child, I saw them as authority figures rather than human beings,” the 37-year-old director told Variety, who remembers being “terrified by her passage through puberty and the things left unsaid and the feelings of shame associated".
Tiger Stripes is not the only film about adolescence to have been acclaimed by Critics' Week. The “French Touch” prize was awarded to It's raining in the house by the Belgian Paloma Sermon-Daï, a film about a brother and a sister left to their own devices during a scorching summer.
In the rest of the list, the jury awarded the rising star prize of the Louis Roederer Foundation to Jovan Ginic for Lost Country, by Serbian Vladimir Perisic, trained at La Fémis in France. The film explores the relationship between 15-year-old Stefan and his mother, a ruling party spokesperson, during protests against Milosevic's regime in 1996.
The Gan Foundation Prize for broadcasting, endowed with 20,000 euros, was awarded to the company Pyramide, distributor in France of Inchallah a son of the Jordanian Amjad Al Rasheed. The film tells the struggle of a woman against a society where not having a male descendant can change a life.
Finally, the SACD prize was awarded to the Frenchwoman Iris Kaltenbäck, also trained at La Fémis, for Le Rapissement, a film about urban loneliness carried by Hafsia Herzi, as a Parisian midwife ready to do anything to give meaning to her life.