The sidebar, which runs 10-18 May and is managed by France's film critics' union, has picked a selection of challenging films from first and second time directors.
The absence of contemporary English-language pictures comes despite chief selector Jose Maria Riba apparent interest in three or four of the 70 screened.
There is only one French film, Bertrand Bonello's sexually explicit Le Pornographe, a story of a man who discovers that his father is not a mainstream film director. The paucity of French pictures may reflect the large number that believe they have a good chance of getting into the official selection. French Canada is also represented through Bernard Emond's La Femme Qui Boit, the story of an out of control alcoholic.
Other tough pictures include Iranian religious comedy Under The Moonlight and Bolivia, a monochrome drama about an economic migrant who drift to Buenos Aires. As usual, the section features a host of first films which will also compete for the Golden Camera award. These include La Femme Qui Boit, Unloved by Japanese film-maker Kunitoshi Manda, Italy's Almost Blue (Quasi Blu) by Alex Infascelli as well as Efimeri Poli by Greece's Giorgos Zafiris.
The section opens with a special screening of Michel Piccoli's directorial debut La Plage Noire, a drama about a man exiled within his own land. It closes with Marion Haensel's Clouds (Nuages), a series of skyscapes intermingled with poetry and on-screen texts.
In between is a tribute to Loach, the section's godfather. In addition to the screening of Kes on Sunday May 13, he will take part in a film-making debate with the section's other directors.
The Official selection (main competition, Un Certain Regard, special screenings and Cinefondation) will be announced on Thursday (April 19) and the Directors' Fortnight Wed 26 April.
Critics Week Competitive sections line-up
Under The Moonlight (Zir - E Nour-E Mah) Dir: Reza Mir-Karimi (Iran) (Int; Sales: Farabi Cinema Foundation)
La Femme Qui Boit Dir: Bernard Emond (Canada) (Int sales: Lions Gate)
Le Pornographe Dir: Bertrand Bonello (France) (Int sales: Mercure)
Unloved Dir: Kunitoshi Manda (Japan) (Producer: Suncent Cinema Works)
Almost Blue Dir:Alex Infascelli (Italy) (Int sales: Cecchi Gori Group)
Bolivia Dir: Israel Adrian Caetano (Argentina) (Prod: Lita Stantic)
Efimeri Poli (Ville Ephemere) Dir: Giorgos Zafiris (Greece) (Int Sales: Greek Film Centre)
L'Enfant De La Haute Mer Dirs: Laetitia Gabrielli, Pierre Marteel, Mathieu Renoux, Max Tourret (France)
Stranger And Native (Biganeh Va Boumi) Dir: Ali Mohammad Ghasemi (Iran )
Noche De Bodas Dir: Carlos Cuaron (Mexico)
Le Dos Au Mur Dir: Bruno Collet (France)
Stapler Fahrer Klaus - Der Erste Arbeitstag
Dirs: Joerg Wagner et Stefan Prehn (Germany)
Eat Dir: Bill Plympton (US)
Field (Champs) Dir: Duane Hopkins (UK)
Opening film: La Plage Noire Dir: Michel Piccoli (Italy) (Int sales: Gemini Films)
Tribute to Ken Loach: Kes Dir: Ken Loach (UK 1970)
Out of competition:
Die Innere Sicherheit Dir: Christian Petzold (Germany) (Int sales: First Hand Films)
Discoveries of the year:
Le Cas Pinochet Dir: Patricio Guzman (Contact: Les Films d'Ici)
Asesinato En Febrero Dir: Eterio Ortega Santillana (Int sales: ESICMA)
Closing Film: Nuages Dir: Marion Haensel (Producer: Mans Films Productions)