Argentine film ‘Simon of the Mountain’ wins Cannes’ Critics’ Week

Federico Luis’ film topped one of the sections of the Cannes Film Festival amidst outcry over the government's shutdown of INCAA

Argentine film Simon of the Mountain, the debut feature-length film by director Federico Luis, won the Grand Prix at the 63rd edition of Critics’ Week, a sidebar competition of the Cannes Film Festival. 

The announcement comes only days after Argentine film professionals staged a demonstration in Cannes to protest Javier Milei’s austerity measures for the cultural sector. Most notably, the film industry is rising against the temporary shutdown of the country’s National Film Institute (INCAA), which provides an economic life-line for independent Argentine cinema. Luis’ film was actually one of the latest projects to receive financial aid from INCAA for its making.  

“I’m perhaps one of the last people who were able to make a film with the help of INCAA, while it was still open,” Luis said to French media. “This film exists only thanks to Argentina’s public institutions.”

“I’m just going to say that right now we need everyone’s help to keep the fire of Argentine cinema alive,” said lead actor Toto Ferro when receiving the award. 

Luis himself also expressed his wish that the award have “political value,” especially “for those who claim that in Argentina we make films no one watches.”

“I’m thinking a lot about what this [award] could mean for colleagues in my country, because everything will be harder for us these years.”

A co-production between Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, Luis’ film follows Simón, a 21 year old man living on the edge of the Andes Mountains who introduces himself as a moving company employee. Played by singer/actor Ferro (who debuted as local serial killer Carlos Robledo Puch in Pablo Trapero’s 2018 biopic The Angel), Simón starts spending time with a group of young people with disabilities, prompting what appears to be a change of personality. 

The film has been described by its makers as “a cliché-free vision of adolescence through a group of young people’s experiences, which explores desire, love, and the feeling of belonging, delving into different human capacities.”

This is Luis’ first feature length film after his awarded short film La siesta, which had its international premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in the Official Short Film Competition. La siesta also received an honorable mention at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Shortcuts program and won Best Short Film at the 2019 Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival (BAFICI). In 2023, he received the award for Best Short at IDFA.

Previous Argentine winners of the Critics’ Week competition include Lucía Puenzo’s XXY (2007), starring Ricardo Darin, and Paulina (2015), the second feature film by Argentina, 1985 director Santiago Mitre.


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