By Stephanie Ornelas
Over the years, Sundance-supported artists and alums have helped enrich the programs of film festivals all over the world with powerful and authentic stories, and Cannes Film Festival is no different. As the 76th annual international film festival reaches its halfway point, we’re looking back at a few more of the dynamic films that have screened throughout Critics’ Week and other categories.
The selection of hidden gems below is full of adventure, grief, bravery, laughter, and romance. Check out these remarkable projects financially supported by Sundance Institute that went on to screen at past Cannes Film Festivals, and consider adding them to your list of films to watch this season:
Aquí Y Allá (2010 Annenberg Film Fellowship Grant, 2010 Feature Film Program)
Known also by the title Here and There, Antonio Méndez Esparza’s film screened during International Critics’ Week at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was honored with the Nespresso Grand Prize. The drama is centered on an immigrant father who returns to his small village in Mexico after years of working in the U.S. As he works to rebuild and reconnect with his family, he also attempts to pursue his longtime dream of starting a band, the Copa Kings. Check here for viewing options.
The Harvesters (2012 Feature Film Program)
In Etienne Kallos’ The Harvesters, which screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Janno comes of age in a conservative and isolated territory in South Africa and finds himself competing for his mother’s love when she rescues and brings home Pieter, a street orphan. Check here for viewing options.
Mediterranea (2012 Producers Program, 2012–2014 Feature Film Program, 2014 Catalyst Forum)
In Jonas Carpignano’s gripping feature, which screened during Critics’ Week in 2015, two friends are met with hostility and violence as they leave Burkina Faso and strive to make better lives for themselves in Italy. Check here for viewing options.
Tramontane (2013 – 2016 Feature Film Program)
Vatche Boulghourjian’s film follows a young blind man who travels across rural Lebanon gathering clues to discover his birth origins. The drama screened during Critics’ Week at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Golden Rail award. Available to purchase on DVD.
Los Perros (2014 Feature Film Program)
Marcela Said’s drama is centered on Mariana, an upper-class Chilean woman who starts a romantic relationship with her riding teacher, a former colonel who has a shady past involving human rights violations in Chile. The film screened during Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week in 2017. Check here for viewing options.
The Unknown Saint (2016 Feature Film Program)
Alaa Eddine Aljem’s comedy-drama screened during Critics’ Week in 2019 and follows a thief who returns after years in prison to retrieve a bag of money he had buried moments before his arrest. But when he arrives at the site, he’s met with a shrine dedicated to an unknown saint on top of his buried loot. Check here for viewing options.
After Love (2017 Feature Film Program, 2017 Producers Program)
In Aleem Khan’s film, set in the English port town of Dover, Mary Hussain suddenly finds herself a widow. When she discovers her late husband has a secret family across the English Channel in Calais, she travels to France to learn more. Khan’s drama screened during Critics’ Week at the 2020 Cannes Festival. Check here for viewing options.
Prayers for the Stolen [Noche de Fuego] (2017 Morelia | Sundance Institute Story Lab, 2018 Feature Film Program, 2018 Producers Program)
Tatiana Huezo received the Un Certain Regard Special Mention at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival for her film Prayers for the Stolen, based on the book of the same name by Jennifer Clement.
Set on a remote mountain in coastal Mexico, the film follows young Ana as she grows up in the shadow of human trafficking and illegal drug trade. Playing made-up games in the houses of those who have fled (or disappeared), she creates her own escape with her two best friends in a world of cartel violence. Check here for viewing options.