The Festival de Cannes 2013 opened the first day of competition with two films. The first was “Jeune et Jolie” by French director François Ozon, already selected in the Official Selection with “Swimming Pool” in 2003, starring Ludivine Sagnier. The second film was “Heli” by Amat Escalente, a third apparition in Cannes for the Mexican self-taught filmmaker.
François Ozon’s early short and feature films explored adolescence, and Young & Beautiful portraits today’s youth through the 4 seasons and 4 songs of a 17-year-old girl life
The film is about what it feels like to be seventeen and experiencing the transformation of one’s body. Adolescence is often idealized in cinema. Isabelle’s behavior sets off strong repercussions and provokes powerful reactions from those close to her. Each season begins with the point of view of a different character. Summer is Isabelle’s brother, autumn is her client, winter is her mother and spring is her stepfather.
François Ozon sees adolescence a painful period of complicated transition. The bodies go through intense physiological changes, and yet we feel kind of numb. Isabelle is not just any young woman – she’s working as a prostitute as she feels a visceral need to sell her body, instead of getting into drugs or becoming anorexic, as long as it was something secret, clandestine,
forbidden. The director said: “Adolescence is a fertile period when anything is possible. That’s what’s so exhilarating about it, what comes across in Rimbaud’s poem “No One’s Serious At Seventeen””. The four songs of the film are performed by French singer Françoise Hardy.
Heli by Amat Escalente tells the story of a family installed near a U.S. auto plant which tries to adapt to the rules of social life imbued with promiscuity and violence. Estela, the young daughter of the family is caught in a cycle of violence when she falls in love with a young police officer involved in a drug diversion.
“Heli” is Amat Escalente’s third feature film. He is a self-taught filmmaker originating from the city of Guanajuato (Mexico). An American by his mother and Mexican by his father, he deals in his films more or less directly of how American culture pervades Mexican society and shows the negative effects of this globalization. Regarding the events the family faces in the film, the director was simply inspired by special events in newspapers or television news and intersected pieces of stories between them. The problems of corruption, drugs are part of everyday Mexicans life. The images of killings, beheadings, hangings are shown without restraint in the media. Escalente Amat said of his work: “My characters suffer violence and find themselves immediately under stress. It is this tension that I try to show and share with the viewer. I show extreme situations…”
Amat Escalente began working in films at the age of 15 years. After shooting two short films, he wrote and directed his first film, “Sangre”, shot in his hometown in 2005 and presented in Cannes at Un Certain Regard Official Selection , where he received the FIPRESCI International Critics prize. Three years later, Escalante presented his second feature film “Los Bastardos” again in Un Certain Regard.
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