THE 71ST CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
ONE OF THE MOST GLAMOROUS FILM FESTIVALS IN THE WORLD FEATURING SOME OF THE BEST ACTORS AND DIRECTORS THE MOVIE INDUSTRY HAS TO OFFER KICKS OFF ON MAY 8. HERE’S A LOOK AT WHO’S UP FOR THE PALME D’OR AND MUCH MORE AT THE PRESTIGIOUS CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
One of the most glamorous film festivals in the world featuring some of the best actors and directors the movie industry has to offer kicks off on May 8. Here’s a look at who’s up for the Palme d’or and much more at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival
As the 71st Cannes Film Festival unspools from May 8 to 19, media attention will understandably be focused on two Out of Competition titles: Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and Lars von Trier’s The House that Jack Built. The former is the second spin-off of the legendary cinematic saga. It brings together Han Solo, his trusted Wookiee aide Chewbacca, and the notorious hustler Lando Calrissian.
The latter, made by the Danish arch-provocateur who, in 2011, was summarily banished from Cannes for an off-the-cuff remark on Hitler, is a psychological thriller that follows Jack, a serial killer over the course of 12 years in the state of Washington.
Talk is also likely to centre on Scottish filmmaker Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston documentary, a part of Midnight Screenings, and Wim Wenders’ Pope Francis – A Man of His Word, which premieres in a Special Screening. And who can ignore Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the festival’s closing film starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Olga Kurylenko?
But festival regulars know well enough that the real action will unfold around this year’s 21-film Cannes Competition lineup, which is as good as any that the organisers have assembled since the start of this decade.
The festival kicks off with the Competition title Everybody Knows, a drama directed by Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi. It is a Spanish-language film starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin. Farhadi will not be the only frontrunner for the Palme d’or. Jean-luc Godard’s latest film, Le livre d’image (The Image of Book), is his eighth entry in the Cannes’ main Competition. The 87-year-old French director has never won the Palme d’or.
He made his first film in 1960, broke into the festival only in 1980 with Every Man for Himself, and had to wait until 2013 to bag a Cannes award — the Jury Prize for Goodbye to Language. Will the tide turn for him this year?
The latest edition of the festival has already paid him a deserved tribute. Not only is the maverick French New Wave pioneer in the Competition, a strikingly vivid image from his 1965 Pierrot Le Fou — it shows Jean-paul Belmondo and Anna Karina in a passionate, playful kiss — is at the heart of the festival’s official poster. Never before has a competing director been on the festival poster, too. Trust Godard!
The main Competition has several other unprecedented facets, not the least of which is the fact that two of the contending filmmakers — Iran’s Jafar Panahi (Three Faces) and Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov (Leto) — may not be at hand to present their official entries.
Panahi has been under house arrest in Tehran and barred from filmmaking since 2010 but he has kept going. Serebrennikov, director of the Go- gol Centre in Moscow and a bitter critic of Vladimir Putin, has been charged by the Russian authorities with misappropriation of government funds. A trip to the Croisette is unlikely for both.
Serebrennikov, who is also a celebrated theatre director and producer, made his Cannes bow in 2016 with the Un certain regard title The Student. His new film is about the life of Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi and the Leningrad rock underground of the 1980s.
Panahi, on his part, has seen steady action in Cannes — as well as in the world’s other major festivals — since winning the Camera d’or in 1995 for his debut film White Balloon, which premiered
in Directors’ Fortnight. In 2003, Panahi’s Crimson Gold, took home the Un certain regard Jury Prize. In 2011, Panahi’s clandestinely made This is Not a Film was smuggled out of Iran and screened in a special event in Cannes.
If the Iranian wins the Palme d’or, he would be completing a rare “Grand Slam.” He already has Berlin’s Golden Bear (for Taxi, 2015) and the Venice Golden Lion (for The Circle, 2000) under his belt. Will the jury headed by Australian actress Cate Blanchett give Panahi the one prize that is missing from his mantelpiece?
Panahi’s Three Faces is about three Iranian actresses of different vintage. It would be tempting to think that a panel of nine jurors that includes five women, three of them actresses (besides Blanchett, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart), would take more than keen interest in the latest film of Iran’s most awarded director, who, surprisingly, is in the festival’s main Competition for the first time ever.
Only one Palme d’or winner — Nuri Bilge Ceylan whose Winter
Sleep fetched him the festival’s top prize in 2014 — is in contention this year. He is competing this year with The Wild Pear Tree, which sees the director exploring his pet themes via the story of an aspiring writer who returns to his native village in pursuit of his ambition.
Eight other directors in the lineup, half of them from Asia, have won closing night honours in the past. An interesting duo in the Competition is made up of Polish-british filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) and Kazakh director Sergey Dvortsevoy (Ayka). The former, who has been making films for three decades, taught in the mid-1990s at the film school in Moscow where Dvortsevoy, a remarkable documentary filmmaker who won the Prix Un certain regard in 2008 for his first fiction feature Tulpan, was a student.
It is, of course, not known if a teacher and his pupil have ever competed against each other in Cannes. This is
Pawlikowski’s first trip to Cannes, while Ayka marks Dvortsevoy’s maiden Competition appearance. Pawlikowski, 60, who won an Oscar for Ida, is an avowed fan of thirty-something Dvortsevoy’s style of filmmaking, as certainly are hordes of cineastes across the world who discovered him through Tulpan, if not through the fabulously evocative documentaries the former Aeroflot aviation engineer made earlier.
Also noteworthy is a pair of Arab directors in the main Competition, the first such instance in recent memory. One of the two, Egyptian Abu Bakr Shawky (Yomeddine), is also the only debutant among the 21 filmmakers. Yomeddine is about a man raised in a leper colony who sets out with an orphan boy and a donkey to look for the family that abandoned him as a child. The plot stems from The Colony, a short film Shawky made chronicling tales of residents of the Abu Zaabal leper colony in Egypt.
No first-time filmmaker has won the
Palme d’or since 1989, when Steven Soderbergh bagged the award for sex, lies and videotape. That apart, no Egyptian director has ever won the top prize here although the nation has been represented in the Cannes Competition as many as 14 times. So, Shawky has history against him.
Lebanese actressturned-director Nadine Labaki (Capernaum), on the other hand, has deep, long links with the festival. Her first film, Caramel (2007), emerged from a screenplay that she developed during a Cannes Film Festival Residence programme in 2005. The film premiered in Directors’ Fortnight. In 2011, Labaki was back on the Croisette with Where Do We Go Now?, which played in Un certain regard. Capernaum, her third directorial venture, has catapulted her to the main Competition.
Jia Zhangke (Ash is Purest White), Lee Chang-dong (Burning, an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story), Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters) — will lead the Asian charge, with Competition first-timer Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Asako I & II) completing a strong quartet.
Besides Godard, France is represented in the main Competition by Stephane Brize (At War), Christophe Honore (Sorry Angel), Yann Gonzalez (Knife + Heart) and Eva Husson (Girls of the Sun), starring Emmanuelle Bercot and Golshifteh Farahani. Italy has two films in the running — Matteo Garrone’s Dogman and Alice Rohrwacher’s Lazzaro Felice.
The two Americans in the Competition are Spike Lee (Blackkklansman), who is competing in Cannes for the third time, and David Robert Mitchell (Under the Silver Lake), who is visiting the Croisette for the third time but is vying for the Palme d’or for the first time. Potential gems galore in there!
On the cover: Kristen Stewart
French director Jean-luc Godard’s latest film Le livre d’image is his eighth entry in the Cannes’ main Competition.
The jury is headed by Cate Blanchett.
Polish-british filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski is up for the Palme d’or for Cold War.
Girls of the Sun by Eva Husson is competing for the Palme d’or.
There will be a lot of media attention on Ron Howard’s Out of Competition title Solo: A Star Wars
Story starring Alden Ehrenreich (pictured).
Italian director Matteo Garrone’s Dogman.
Competition first-timer Ryusuke Hamaguchi brings Asako I & II to the festival.