It’s that time of year: the cream of Hollywood, and independent U.S. cinema will be crowding the boardwalk at Deauville for the American Film Festival from 2 to 11 September.
There are 13 films in the main competition, seven of them first films and a couple by joint directors.
Hollywood is famously obsessed with LA and two of the films in competition feature the city’s underbelly. In Emily the Criminal, a young woman spirals down into the criminal underworld while trying to escape debt. 1-800-HOT-NITE focuses on 13-year-old Tommy, who has to learn to survive fast when his parents are arrested and he runs away to avoid being taken into care.
Summer features large in several other coming-of-age stories. Over/Under is the story of a friendship between two girls who spend summers together from the age of nine, growing up and growing apart. Aftersun is an autobiographical tale an 11-year-old girl on holiday with her Scottish father in Turkey. Palm Trees and Power Lines depicts a teenager bored in the summer holidays falling in love with very much the wrong, older man. In Stay Awake, two teenage brothers are having to deal with their mother’s prescription-drug addiction, which has reached epidemic level in the U.S. The Silent Twins is based on a true story where twin girls in Wales lived in an exclusive world, only communicating with each other, until the authorities intervened.
War Pony is set on the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota where Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) researched and set her first two films, this film follows two young Lakota as they try to figure out what kind of men they will be. It won its joint first-time directors the Caméra d’or prize at Cannes 2022.
Family dramas feature in two films which focus on mothers. Peace in the Valley is anything but peaceful, as a mother deals with the fallout from a supermarket shooting in which her husband died trying to stop the gunman. In Scrap, written, directed and starring first-time director Vivian Kerr, Beth is struggling to provide for her daughter after becoming unemployed. Meanwhile her financially secure brother and his wife are struggling to conceive.
In Montana Story, twentysomething estranged half-siblings Cal and Erin return to their father’s Montana ranch after he has a life-threatening stroke. They have to try to face old ghosts and new responsibilities.
In the more classic genres, Dual is a sci-fi tale of a woman facing a terminal diagnosis who opts to be cloned. When she miraculously recovers, she wants the clone decommissioned. And Watcher is a thriller about a young American woman who moves with her Romanian husband to Bucharest and becomes convinced a neighbour is a serial killer.
Not in the competition but premiering at the festival before being released on Netflix on 28 September, Blonde is adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ bestselling novel re-imagining Marilyn Monroe’s life. Monroe is played by Ana de Palmas, the Cuban-born actress (No Time to Die, Blade Runner 2049, Cuban Network) who will receive Deauville’s Hollywood Rising Star Award.
Deauville American Film Festival
2-11 September 2022
> Deauville and Dinard Film Festivals
> Cannes 2022 : The Palmes before the Palme