Boris Lojkine's first fiction feature film, Hope
Endurance Newtown and Justin Wang in Boris Lojkine's first fiction feature film, Hope

Independent film production company Urucu has partnered with Cannes' La Semaine de la Critique to bring a unique selection of Cannes Critics' Week movies to South Africa.

The programme launches at Suncoast Casino on Tuesday, 21 July as part of the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), where five critically acclaimed films will be screened, followed by additional screenings in Johannesburg and Cape Town the following weekend.

Opening the South African edition of Critics' Week is Hope, the first fiction film from award-winning French writer-director Boris Lojkine.

Hope portrays the reality of the conditions endured by Africans travelling through the Sahara to reach Europe. Bright Lights Film Journal described it as "one of the few films about undocumented immigrants to avoid treating the subject simply as a problem to dissect or debate".

Lojkine will be in attendance at DIFF, where he will present a master class on bringing reality and authenticity to fiction filmmaking.

Established in 1961, Cannes Critics' Week competition is dedicated to showcasing emerging filmmakers from around the world. It has featured the early works of numerous renowned auteurs, including Ken Loach, Wong Kar-Wai and Alejandro González Iñarritu.

The travelling Critics' Week programme is part of a broader initiative by Urucu Media, supported by the French Institute of South Africa, to promote unique cinematic voices and innovation while cultivating an audience for the types of films Urucu believes are worth making.

Urucu, which has ties to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro, aims to make "quality, intelligent and challenging cinema experiences once more a staple of the South African entertainment landscape".

Elias Ribeiro, one of Urucu's producers, commented: "We're incredibly excited about hosting the first official platform for Critics' Week in Africa, and hope to cultivate strong local audience base for the wonderful films that emerge from this inspiring competition every year".

The company's latest production, Necktie Youth, will have its South African premiere at DIFF.

Critics' Week South Africa films

Hope by Boris Lojkine (France 2014, 91 min)
In his debut feature, the French helmer takes on the ever-relevant topic of migration from Africa to Europe. Léonard from Cameroon (Endurance Newton) and Hope from Nigeria (Justin Wang) form a contested partnership on their dangerous journey to Europe - a dreamland where even mosquitoes drink coca cola.

The Kindergarten Teacher by Nadav Lapid (Israel 2014, 120 min)
Nira (Sarit Larry), a crèche teacher and aspiring poet, discovers unusual poetic talent in Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), her five-year old student. Informed by her own deprived past and a fear that the world will eat his sensitive soul alive, she takes it upon herself to protect the boy and the gift he carries.

You and the Night by Yann Gonzalez (France 2013, 92 min)
Gonzalez kick-started his feature film career with an erotic-existential-queer comedy. Starring legendary French footballer Eric Cantona in the role of a well-hung stud/former child-poet and one seven members of a meticulously cast orgy, it explores and intentionally confuses memory and fantasy.

Salvo by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza (Italy/France 2013, 110 min)
The winner of La Semaine de la Critique of Cannes Film Festival 2014 tells the story of Salvo (Saleh Bakri), a merciless bodyguard/hit man in Sicily's underworld. Meeting Rita (Sara Serraiocco), the blind sister of one of his victims - and a witness at that - changes not just Salvo's life but Rita's too, and offers the pair a relief from the literal and metaphorical darkness in which they are stuck.

Suzanne by Katell Quillévéré (France 2013, 94 min)
Writer/director Quillévéré's second feature follows Suzanne (Sara Forestier) during 25 years of her life. Suzanne grows up with her sister (Adèle Haenel) and widowed truck-driver father (François Damiens). When Suzanne falls pregnant while still in school, the family with its new member remains a tight unit, but when she falls in love with a gangster, the stability is threatened.

Critics' Week South Africa programme

Durban: Suncoast Casino

  • 21 July (20:00) - Hope
  • 22 July (17:30) - Salvo
  • 23 July (22:00) - Suzanne
  • 24 July (17:30) - The Kindergarten Teacher
  • 25 July (17:00) - You and the Night

Joburg: Rosebank Nouveau / Cape Town: V&A Waterfront Nouveau

  • 31 July (20:00) - Hope
  • 1 August (17:30) - Salvo

  • 1 August (20:00) - Suzanne
  • 2 August (17:30) - The Kindergarten Teacher
  • 2 August (20:00) - You and the Night

Boris Lojkine master class

Monday, 20 July 10h00-12h00 as part of Talents Durban. If you wish to attend this class, please contact Urucu's press officer, Sandiso Ngubane, on +27 (0)60 895 8914 or sandiso.ngubane@gmail.com

A graduate of the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure and a philosophy teacher, Boris Lojkine wrote a PhD thesis entitled Crisis and History before quitting the academic world. He made two documentary films in Vietnam, Those Who Remain (2001) and Wandering Souls (2005), which recount, from a Vietnamese point of view, the impossible mourning of men and women whose lives have been torn apart by war. With Hope, his first fiction film, he changes continents and immerses himself in the lives of African migrants.

Press interviews and contacts

Hope director Boris Lojkine is available for limited interviews at DIFF between 17 and  22 July. Urucu producer Elias Riberio is available for interviews regarding both Critics' Week and Realness.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission