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article imageKids are the break-out stars of Cannes film festival

By Aurélie MAYEMBO (AFP)     May 24, 2017 in Entertainment

Young actors are making waves at this year's Cannes film festival -- often in films that are hardly suitable children's viewing.

AFP takes a look at some of the kids who are making a splash:

- Baby faces, dark thoughts -

Starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, family horror "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" has shocked audiences at the world's biggest film festival but features a standout performance from Irish actor Barry Keoghan as obsessive teenager Martin.

Best known at home for playing a cat killer in television series "Love/Hate", Keoghan is no stranger to dark roles, and Hollywood magazine Deadline said he'd tackled his latest film with "a creep factor that sends chills down your spine".

Blonde waif Fantine Harduin, 12, has meanwhile won plaudits for her chilling performance as the not-so-innocent Eve in Michael Haneke's "Happy End", set loosely against the backdrop of Europe's migrant crisis. Dark thoughts haunt this little girl, unloved in a bourgeois French household.

- Rising deaf star -

Todd Haynes' tender childhood mystery "Wonderstruck" follows the parallel adventures of two kids who run away to New York, one in 1927 and the other in 1977.

Casting agents discovered US actress Millicent Simmonds during an extensive search in the deaf commu...
Casting agents discovered US actress Millicent Simmonds during an extensive search in the deaf community

Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, 14, has been widely praised for her performance as Rose opposite 12-year-old Oakes Fegley as Ben, who also loses his hearing. Casting agents discovered Simmonds during an extensive search in the deaf community for the right girl to play the role.

Disability is also a theme in well-reviewed French film "Ava" starring Noee Abita as a young girl who loses her sight.

- Forces of nature -

South Korean actress Ahn Seo-Hyun, 13, stars alongside Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal in Netflix movie "Okja" as a little girl trying to save a genetically-modified giant pig from the clutches of a multinational corporation. Vanity Fair described her performance as Mija, forced to abandon her home in the mountains and head to New York, as "soulful (and) winning".

Young stars also take centre-stage in another film set in a rural landscape, "Sicilian Ghost Story" by Italy's Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza. It's a teenage kiss in the Sicilian forests between Gaetano Fernandez and Julia Jedikowska that launches this grim tale of a boy's kidnap by the mafia.

- Girls rule -

Sofia Coppola's American Civil War thriller "The Beguiled" features a cast of young girls who hold their own against stars including Kidman, Farrell and Kirsten Dunst.

One stand-out was Australian Angourie Rice, 16, whose character Jane brings a wounded soldier (Farrell) back to her school to recover, setting the stage for a vicious battle of the sexes.

She told reporters after Wednesday's well-received screening that the Cannes madness was "quite intimidating".

As far as the shoot she said, "I loved working with all of these talented women. And also Colin... who is very talented," she said, drawing a laugh from the audience.

"Nice save," the Irish actor quipped.

- Small person, big job -

As an eight-year-old with no acting experience, Lise Leplat Prudhomme took on quite a challenge when she accepted the starring role in "Jeannette", a musical comedy about the childhood of French saint and folk heroine Joan of Arc.

But director Bruno Dumont said she had the "wild and impulsive" spirit to play the young Joan, who goes on to fight the English occupation of France before being burned alive at the stake in 1431.

"This little girl, she gave me some of her childhood," Dumont told AFP.

"I didn't know anything about the childhood of Joan of Arc, but Lise brought us that childhood."

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