In the tradition of the Coen brothers, Shane Atkinson imagines the adventures of a hardware store employee mistaken for a hitman. His film won the grand prize and the audience trophy.
The jurors of 49th American Film Festival, led by their president Guillaume Canet, wanted to laugh. Their prize list, delivered this Saturday evening, is a triumph for comedies and stories focused on the absurd. The jury awarded its grand prize to the black comedy LaRoy .
In this debut film from Shane Atkinson, a suicidal hardware store employee recently cheated on by his wife (John Milagro) is mistaken for a hitman. Deciding to play the game, he does not understand the mechanism he is putting his finger into. His sponsor demands the money, which was untraceable and which was in the victim’s safe, and Ray discovers that his small Texas town is full of blackmailers. All these adventures between tragicomedy and absurdity have earned LaRoy numerous and laudatory comparisons with the works of the Coen brothers.
LaRoy also leaves with the audience prize and the critics prize. Arousing enthusiasm in Deauville, the film, shot in just 22 days in New Mexico and produced by Frenchman Sébastien Aubert, found a distributor at the end of its screening on stage. ARP will release it theatrically in April 2024.
From Fortune cookies to America’s conspiracy theorists
Guillaume Canet and his jurors awarded two jury prizes. One with the poetic and biting Fremont . Or the daily life of an Afghan refugee, former translator for the American army, who writes the messages found in the Chinese “fortune cookies” produced by the San Francisco cookie company for which she works. Donya, who tries to break her solitude and get out of her community which accuses her of having helped the Americans, leaves funny and very personal little words in this tender black and white portrait by Iranian-British director Babak Jalali. Fremont will be released in our theaters on December 6, 2023.
The jury’s other prize rewards the hallucinatory journey The Sweet East by Sean Prince Williams. A jaded student, Lilian takes advantage of a school trip to run away and discover the United States. The further this “Alice” moves away from Washington, the more she sinks into today’s fashionable wonderland. Anti-capitalist punks, white supremacist university professors, Western Hollywood directors, young Muslims fascinated by weapons, the kid who plays on her charm without ever putting anyone in her bed meets all of America’s marginalized and conspiracy theorists. This waking nightmare, carried by an intense young actress named Talia Ryder, also won the Louis Roederer Foundation Prize for Revelation 2023, awarded by the jury chaired by Mélanie Thierry.
This list embraces films which emerged very quickly from a competition tending towards the intimate but too often falling into the anecdotal. The only regret is the absence on the podium of the very handsome Past Lives – Our past lives by Celine Song. Autobiographical story that questions elective affinities, being in the right place at the right time, the mark left on us by those who love us, what they take from us with them.