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Cannes Critics Prize ‘BPM,’ ‘Closeness,’ ’Nothing Factory’

Variety logo Variety 5/27/2017 John Hopewell
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CANNES — Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Kantemir Balagov’s “Closeness” and Pedro Pinho’s “The Nothing Factory” won International Critics’ Prizes Saturday afternoon at the Cannes Festival.

Awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) one day before a international jury headed by Pedro Almodovar announces Cannes Festival’s 2017 Palme d’Or on May 28, the prizes do not always coincide with the official jury’s. “Toni Erdmann” won the Fipresci best competition player award last year, for instance, but nothing from Cannes’ official jury.

Over the last two years, however, Fipresci competition winners have won (“Son of Saul”) or been nominated (“Toni Erdmann”) for a foreign-language Academy Award and often proved standout art films of the year in sales and further award glory at or beyond Cannes.

The International Critics Prize for best film in competition marks further recognition for “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Campillo’s first film at Cannes which has notched up robust sales for Films Distribution, The Orchard nabbing U.S. rights half way through the Cannes Festival.

A 1990 Paris AIDS activists drama, “BPM” ranks among the top five or six competition movies in Cannes inone international critics’ poll, and rates as a competition frontrunner for France’s press. Variety’s Guy Lodge said the movie “melds the personal, the political, and the erotic to heart-bursting effect.”

“I am immensely touched to receive the Fipresci Prize and above all by the support the international press has given my film, underscoring that however minoritarian the advocacy action may have been, it had a universal dimension,” Campillo said.

He added: “Beyond the struggle of ACT UP Paris, ’BPM’ is above all a film I wanted to make where the force of words transforms into pure moments of action, while the body held out.”

Other sales on “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” take in a swathe of Asian countries, including Japan (Phantom Film). The identity of the film’s distributors such as The Orchard suggests that the it has broken out of an LGBT niche.

Set in Russian Balagov’s home town of Nalchik in the North Caucasus in 1998, “Closeness” is a coming of age story unspooling in the the town’s small Jewish community, which is tensed by ethnic and religious conflict. Winner of the International Critics’ Prize for best film in Un Certain Regard, “Closeness” was praised by the Fipresci jury for announcing “a striking new voice [who] provides an intimate portrait of a closed community. Complete cinema.”

Added late April as a Special Screening to Directors’ Fortnight, “The Nothing Factory,” the feature debut of Portugal’s Pedro Pinho, weighs in as a three-hour labor relations drama with comedic beats, such as songs, as Lisbon lift factory workers strike to thwart the owners’ relocation plans.

Praised for its adventurousness by critics who caught it at Cannes, “The Nothing Factory” was described by the Cannes Fipresci jury as “an evocative activist film that blows away the boundaries between reality, fiction, theater,  and a sociological discourse leading to an unsettling and provocative cinematic experience.”

Pinho told Variety he had always wanted to make a musical comedy, hence the songs in “The Nothing Factory.”

Variety’s Alissa Simon served as the president of the 2017 Cannes Fipresci jury. its members were France’s Thomas Aidan and Barbara Lorey de Lacharrière, Rodrigo Fonseca from Brazil, India’s Vidyashankar Jois, Canada’s Pierre Pageau, Eva Peydró from Spain. Italy’s Silvana Silvestri, and Mode Steinkjer from Norway.

“Radiance,” from Cannes regular Naomi Kawase, took the Cannes Festival’s 2017 Ecumenical Jury Prize.

Fahime Nafir contributed to this article

INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ PRIZES, CANNES 2017

COMPETITION

“BPM (Beats Per Minute),” (Robin Campillo, France)

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“Closeness,” (Kantemir Balagov, Russia)

DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT/CRITICS WEEK

“The Nothing Factory,” (Pedro Pinho, Portugal)

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