A glut of new blood to vie for the Palme d’Or
by Fabien Lemercier
- Eight filmmakers will be duking it out in competition at Cannes for the very first time, flanked by eight previously awarded directors who survived a major flush-out
To those who had been lamenting the constant return of filmmakers classed as “regulars” in competition at Cannes, and in the wake of a 2017 edition widely regarded as being of distinctly mediocre quality (considering the exceedingly high standards expected of the most prestigious showcase on the Croisette), General Delegate Thierry Frémaux responded today in resounding fashion by unveiling (alongside President Pierre Lescure) an Official Selection that included a surprising list of 18 titles that will be battling it out for the Palme d'Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival (8-19 May).
The handful of big names conspicuous by their absence (for various reasons, and only for the time being, as several new additions are expected) include Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jacques Audiard, Paolo Sorrentino, Mike Leigh, Lars von Trier, Sergei Loznitsa, Terrence Malick, Carlos Reygadas, Naomi Kawase, Hong Sang-soo, Pablo Trapero, Claire Denis, Brillante Mendoza, Olivier Assayas and young director László Nemes.
Astoundingly, eight filmmakers will be making their debuts at this lofty level, with France’s Eva Husson, Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Poland’s Pawel Pawlikowski, Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov, the USA’s David Robert Mitchell, Japan’s Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Egypt’s Abu Bakr Shawki (with his debut feature) and Iran’s Jafar Panahi (who will be attempting to pull off a rarely seen grand slam, as he has already won at Venice, Berlin and Locarno; and who rose to prominence on the Croisette in 1995, scooping the Caméra d’Or).
Nevertheless, the competition will also bring together eight filmmakers who have previously won awards at Cannes (either themselves directly, or via their actors), with Switzerland’s Jean-Luc Godard (his eighth time in competition), China’s Jia Zhang-ke (fifth time), Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda (fifth), Italy’s Matteo Garrone (fourth), Korea’s Lee Chang-Dong (third), Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (who will open the festival – see the article – third time), Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher (second) and France’s Stéphane Brizé (second). Also heading back for the third time is US director Spike Lee (27 years after his last appearance in this competition) and, for the second time, France’s Christophe Honoré.
With eight first-time contenders and three directors taking aim for the second time, a brave and audacious breath of fresh air would therefore seem to be blowing over the hunt for the Palme d’Or. Frémaux denied that this surge in fresh talent was premeditated, but conveniently, it fits in perfectly with the festival’s organisation, which is in the midst of some major changes (banning selfies, redefining the importance of the press so that red-carpet world premieres take precedence, and a new ruling standing in the way of platforms such as Netflix that refuse to prioritise the theatrical release of films). In some ways, as he suggested himself at the press conference, the Cannes General Delegate is pitting the history of the cinema against other visual mediums – a risky stance that flies in the face of controversy, and one which is certainly not lacking in panache.
This year, Europe remains the dominant force, with eight representatives: three French (Husson, Honoré and Brizé), two Italian (Rohrwacher and Garrone), one Swiss (Godard), one Polish (Pawlikowski) and one Russian (Serebrennikov). But the Continent only just manages to outpace Asia, which is back with a vengeance, as it boasts seven titles helmed by two Iranians (Panahi and Farhadi), two Japanese (Kore-Eda and Hamaguchi), one Chinese (Jia Zhangke), one Korean (Lee Chang-Dong) and one Lebanese director (Labaki).
The USA will be pinning its hopes on two films (Lee and Mitchell), while Africa will be present with the Egyptian feature. On the other hand, Latin America is nowhere to be seen. Lastly, we should note that three female directors are taking part in the competition this year.
The entirety of the Official Selection also includes an appealing section for out-of-competition films (albeit containing only two titles – Solo: A Star Wars Story and Gilles Lellouche’s movie), a clutch of special screenings with documentaries by Wang Bing and Wim Wenders, among others, in addition to a sketch film that boasts Apichatpong Weerasethakul among its directors, and two “punchy” titles showing as midnight screenings (including an Icelandic film toplined by Mads Mikkelsen). And that’s not to mention the competitive Un Certain Regard selection (comprising 15 features for the time being - read news), which also welcomes an array of new faces.
Here is the full list of films in the Cannes Official Selection:
Everybody Knows [+see also:
film profile] - Asghar Farhadi (Spain/France/Italy) (opening film)
At War [+see also:
interview: Stéphane Brizé
film profile] - Stéphane Brizé (France)
Dogman [+see also:
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile] - Matteo Garrone (Italy/France)
The Image Book [+see also:
film profile] - Jean-Luc Godard (France)
Asako I & II [+see also:
film profile] - Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan, France)
Sorry Angel [+see also:
Q&A: Christophe Honoré
film profile] - Christophe Honoré (France)
Girls of the Sun [+see also:
interview: Eva Husson
film profile] - Eva Husson (France/Belgium/Georgia/Switzerland)
Ash is Purest White [+see also:
film profile] - Jia Zhang-ke (China/France/Japan)
Shoplifters - Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)
Capernaum [+see also:
film profile] - Nadine Labaki (Lebanon/France)
Burning - Lee Chang-Dong (South Korea)
Blackkklansman - Spike Lee (USA)
Under the Silver Lake - David Robert Mitchell (USA)
Three Faces - Jafar Panahi (Iran)
Cold War [+see also:
Q&A: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile] - Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland/UK/France)
Happy as Lazzaro [+see also:
interview: Alice Rohrwacher
film profile] - Alice Rohrwacher (Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany)
Yomeddine [+see also:
interview: A.B. Shawky, Dina Emam
film profile] - A.B. Shawky (Egypt/USA/Austria)
Summer [+see also:
interview: Ilya Stewart
film profile] - Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
Out of Competition
10 Years in Thailand - Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
The State Against Mandela and the Others - Nicolas Champeaux, Gilles Porte (France)
The Great Mystical Circus [+see also:
film profile] - Carlos Diegues (Brazil/Portugal/France)
Dead Souls [+see also:
film profile] - Wang Bing (China/France/Switzerland)
To the Four Winds [+see also:
film profile] - Michel Toesca (France)
La Traversée [+see also:
film profile] - Romain Goupil (France)
Pope Francis - A Man of His Word [+see also:
film profile] - Wim Wenders (Italy/Switzerland/Germany/France)
(Translated from French)
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