The 10th edition of the Cannes Critics Week Next Step program takes place this week at the artists' residence Moulin d'Andé, in Normandy.

The complex, built around a 12th-century mill overlooking the River Seine, is known for its links to the French New Wave, with François Truffaut writing the screenplay for Jules and Jim during a stay there in the early 1960s.

“It’s one of the oldest writing and screenwriting venues in France,” says Cannes Critics Week program manager and Next Step workshop director Thomas Rosso. “We’ve been here since the beginning.”

With the aim of helping filmmakers who screened shorts at Cannes Critics' Week to surpass the limit of their first feature, Next Step has supported 88 projects since its launch, of which 29 have already come to fruition, with a further 13 in production or scheduled to premiere in 2024 .

“Next Step is open to all filmmakers who have been invited to Cannes Critics' Week with a short film. They can only come once, so we try to ensure that it is the right time for them to participate in the project”, says Rosso.

This year's selection – featuring 10 filmmakers and their first feature-length projects – is characteristically diverse and a reflection of Cannes Critics' Week programming over the years.

They include French-Swiss director Anton Bialas with The last Piña Colada on Earth, revolving around the patrons of a Parisian nightclub threatened with closure by conservative forces; Dutch filmmaker Vincent Tilanus dovetail, about an openly gay teenager coming to terms with the discovery of his father's past relationships with men, during a wedding anniversary trip with his parents; and Egyptian director Morad Mostafa Aisha can no longer fly away, a contemporary vision of Romeo and Juliet exploring the reality of African immigrants living in Egypt. [scroll down for full selection]

Participants spend five days at the Moulin d'Ande in individual and group meetings with screenwriters, directors, producers and various types of consultants, before heading to Paris on Friday to meet with producers, sales agents and distributors in a kind of of speed dating event.

One of the projects will also receive the Next Step prize worth €2,500 and an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival. Two of the participants will also be selected for a long residency at Moulin d'Andé and the Pop Residency program.

As it marks its 10th edition, Next Step's legacy and impact is snowballing.

A number of films that made waves at the festival and awards circuit this year have benefited from his support, including Cannes 2023 winner Un Certain Regard by Molly Manning Walker. How to have sex; Cannes winner Fipresci by Felipe Gálvez and Chilean entry at the Oscars The colonists, who also played on Un Certain Regard; Escape from Locarno The Permanent Image by Laura Ferrés and Moin Hussain Thunderous skieswhich premiered at Venice Critics' Week

Manning, who won the Next Award for How to have sex in 2021 gave a shout-out to Cannes Critics' Week on the red carpet at the European Film Awards over the weekend, where the film won the European Discovery Award for best first film.

In addition to supporting development at the Moulin D'Ande residency and award, Manning also met with the film's eventual French sales agent mk2 films through the speed-dating event.

“She made her first contacts there and then the deal was closed in Berlin,” says Rosso. “Friday’s meeting helps filmmakers start building a network, it’s a first step in connecting with potential partners.”

Around 80 participants are expected at this year's speed-dating event in Paris on Friday.

Most are predominantly based in France, but there will be a handful of international professionals, with Rosso noting a trend towards people on their way to the Les Arcs Film Festival, which kicks off in the French Alps this weekend, stopping in Paris for the meeting.

How to have sex it premiered world-wide in the Cannes Official Selection rather than Cannes Critics' Week, but Rosso says keeping the films he's backed on his own schedule isn't the end game.

“We can't invite all the resources we support in the Next Step program, so it's important that they are able to find homes elsewhere,” he says.

“Of course, it can sometimes be frustrating when films we would like to show go elsewhere. We are like parents with children and we want to keep them with us but that is not the aim of Next Step. The goal is to help filmmakers succeed with their first film, so we're delighted when they achieve success. What happened to How to have sex It’s incredible,” he says.

The complete selection of projects and filmmakers in the 10th edition of Next Step

The last Piña Colada on Earth
Dir. Anton Bialas (French-Swiss)
Baroque Paris nightclub owner and patrons refuse to move on when capitalist forces try to close it

Anecumen
Director Irati Gorostidi Agirretxe (Spain)
Disillusioned young workers create the remote spiritual community of Anekumen in the mountains after a failed strike.

To put out a fire
Director Jela Hasler (Switzerland)
An idealistic young woman, who has recently completed her postgraduate degree, begins her career at the Zurich Urban Greening Office, where her academic approach conflicts with that of an older colleague.

We are burning
Dir. Nans Laborde-Jourdaa (France)
A crazy love story made up of eight stories that revolve around love mania and addiction.

Aisha can no longer fly away
You. Morad Mostafa (Egypt)
A mystical reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet exploring the experiences of African immigrants in Egypt, through a 26-year-old woman fighting for survival in the Ain-Shams neighborhood in Cairo.

Luna on two planets
Andreas Slavicek (Croatia)
Young and distracted photographer Luna lives between fantasy and reality, juggling several daily jobs in the hope of one day landing the job of her dreams.

Under my skin
To say. Inês Teixeira (Portugal)
A 17-year-old girl starts a relationship with a man ten years older while on vacation at her grandmother's house in Serra do Açor, but discovers, when she meets him again in Lisbon, that he was not honest with her.

dovetail
Dir. Vincent Tilanus (Netherlands)
An openly gay teenager faces mixed emotions after it is revealed that his father has been hiding past relationships with men during a wedding anniversary trip to the United States with his parents.

A sad girl
Dir. Fernanda Tovar (Mexico)
The situation gets out of control when a teenager seeks to avenge her best friend after she is raped at a party.

An unknown girl
Dir. Jing Zou (China)
Exploration of the phenomenon of abandoned girls in China in the 1980s and 1990s, through the life of a woman aged between six and 30, who lives in three different families.

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