The story of La Semaine de la Critique started in the spring of 1961, during the fourteenth Cannes International Film Festival. Upon the initiative of the Association Française de la Critique de Cinéma2 (French Association of Film Critics), the Festival screened The Connection by Shirley Clarke (USA), an adaptation of the theater play by Jack Gekber produced by The Living Theatre. The film was part of a less popular wave of films, usually overlooked by production houses as well as film festivals. To have its screening at the Cannes Film Festival, ruled by producers and not very open to emerging tendencies, was a true phenomenon.
Following the success of the screening of The Connection, Robert Favre le Bret, Artistic Director of the Cannes Film Festival, decided, in agreement with the Film National Center, to repeat and amplify the experience. He entrusted the Association Française de la Critique with the programming of the Salle Jean Cocteau (in the former Palais) for an entire week on the occasion of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. The film critic and director Nelly Kaplan invented the name La Semaine de la Critique (which means the critics’ week).
Since 1962, a lot of changes have been brought about. Short films have now their own Competition and Special Screenings have enhanced the diversity of the Selection of La Semaine de la Critique, which still screens very few films in order to offer them a greater visibility and a better support during the Festival. Most of the screenings take place at the Espace Miramar3 today.
However, the ambition remains the same: to enable French Film Critics to support young film creation the best they can and to continue to explore and reveal filmmakers from all around the world.
Chris Marker, Denys Arcand, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean Eustache, Philippe Garel, Barbet Schroeder, Ken Loach, Merzak Allouache, Romain Goupil, Leos Carax, Amos Gitai, Wong Kar-wai, Arnaud Desplechin, Benoît Poelvoorde, Guillermo del Toro, Jacques Audiard, Kevin Smith, François Ozon, Andrea Arnold or Gaspar Noé all started at la Semaine de la Critique.
Being a true discoverer of new talents helped la Semaine bringing to light and awarding films like Amores Perros by Alejandro González Iñárritu (who went on to direct 21 grams and Babel), Respiro by Emanuele Crialese, Depuis qu’Otar est parti (Since Otar Left) by Julie Bertuccelli (which received the Cesar for Best First Feature Film), Or by Keren Yedaya, Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July, XXY by Lucía Puenzo, Meduzot (Jellyfish) by Etgar Keret & Shira Geffen, Adieu Gary by Nassim Amaouche or Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols.
1- This page includes parts of Vingt-cing ans de « nouvelles vagues » by François Ekchajzer that we would like to thank
2- Today the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma (French Union of Film Critics)
3- The Salle Jean Cocteau at the former Palais no longer exists, screenings in the Palais des Festivals have been taking place at the Auditorium Jean-Louis Bory, in the Salle Debussy and more recently in the Salle Buñuel where people with Press, Marché and other credentials can still go to for a daily screening of films in competition at la Semaine
Significant dates and numbers
1946 1st edition of the Cannes International Film Festival
1962 1st edition of la Semaine de la Critique (under the presidency of Georges Sadoul)
1968 1st edition of Directors’ Fortnight
1978 Creation, by Gilles Jacob, of the Caméra d’Or or Golden Camera (attributed the same year to a film presented at la Semaine, Alambrista by Robert Young – USA)
1988Short films are now also presented in Competition
2000 Special screenings enhance the diversity of the Selection
2011 La Semaine de la Critique celebrates its 50th edition
More than 700 films of nearly 50 different nationalities have been selected at la Semaine
Nearly 3000 films have been watched in 2013 for a final selection of 10 feature films and 13 short and medium length films.
10 Caméras d’Or and 5 Special Distinctions (including 5 Caméras d’Or and one Special Distinction between 2003 and 2011