“Could you turn on the lights in the house?” Thierry Frémaux wants to see the media gathered inside the UGC movie theater on the Champs-Elysees for the annual rendez-vous where he announces the selection for the Cannes Film Festival. Frémaux and Pierre Lescure, festival director and president respectively, revealed the contenders for the 70th Palme d’Or as well as the side competitions and special screenings.
For this anniversary edition, 1,930 features films were submitted, with only 18 making the cut in competition (although a couple of more films will likely be added).
This year’s Cannes is held in an interesting context, both for the French and the international community. The festival will open only a few days after the French presidential election. There is also the shadow of current affairs lingering, namely Syria, North Korea and anything President Trump does – or tweets. “We want the 70th anniversary to be festive,” Lescure said today. Yet the selection is politically and socially charged. “Cannes is a breathing space, but cinema is reflection of the world and Cannes cannot ignore that.”
French director Arnaud Desplechin opens the festival on May 17 with the out-of-competition Les Fantômes d’Ismaël, and the following ten days promise to be rich in diversity. Michael Haneke will contend for his third Palme d’Or with Happy End (an ironic title if you’re familiar with his style), where he revisits his own cinema and his political and aesthetic motivations. François Ozon, who releases a movie each year, is rarely seen on the Croisette, but this year he competes with L’Amant Double, a story which Frémaux describes as “Hitchcockian/De Palmian/Cronenbergian.” Another Gallic director rarely seen on the Croisette is Jacques Doillon, who will screen Rodin, while Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius is presenting his third film in competition. The Artist director returns with Le Redoutable
Some of the not anticipated films include Wonderstruck by Todd Haynes; The Day After by Hong Sangsoo; In the Fade, starring Diane Kruger, by Fatih Akin; The Meyerowitz Stories, starring Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman, by Noah Baumbach marking his first time in competition; and Okja, by Bong Joon-Ho, marking the first original Netflix production in competition. The festival also accepted Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here which Frémaux said was not yet done but was accepted with three scenes still to shoot.
Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell will spend a great deal of time on the red carpet stairs together as they both star in The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Yorgos Lanthimos and The Beguiled by Sofia Coppola.
There are no Coen or Dardenne brothers this year, but I’ very excited about the Safdies. Benny and Josh Safdie will present Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson.