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CANNES 2017 Official Selection

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The mysteries of the Cannes selection


- It’s still anyone’s guess, but here are a few leads one week away from the unveiling of the official selection of the 70th Cannes Film Festival (17-28 May)

The mysteries of the Cannes selection
(l-r) Laurent Cantet, Michael Haneke, Arnaud Desplechin, Claire Denis, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Roman Polanski, Yorgos Lanthimos, Ruben Östlund and Agnès Varda

One week away from the press conference scheduled for 13 April in Paris, at which Thierry Frémaux will unveil the official selection of the 70th Cannes Film Festival (17-28 May), the fog concealing the identities of the films poised to claim a ticket for a world premiere on the Croisette has rarely been this thick, particularly for the competition titles, which will be screened to a jury chaired by Pedro Almodóvar. This lack of clarity is probably down to a variety of causes: on one hand, the selector undoubtedly wanted to lock down the information even more tightly to avoid leaks, and on the other hand, a plethora of potential contenders for the 2017 Palme d'Or are still in a race against time, rushing to wrap their post-production. And this uncertainty has a domino effect on the Directors’ Fortnight and the Critics’ Week, whose final choices also depend on those of Frémaux, a chain reaction made all the more explosive by the Official Selection’s decision to bring forward its press conference by an entire week to avoid the media logjam ahead of the first round of the French presidential election on 23 April.

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Paradoxically, the rumours are being fuelled more from the outside this year, in a kind of guessing game-cum-process of elimination. For a start, Abdellatif Kechiche revealed yesterday in the daily newspaper Nice Matin that his eagerly awaited Mektoub Is Mektoub would not be present on the Croisette this year for a very good reason: in the end, he has turned it into a diptych (two films entitled Les dés sont jetés and Pray for Jack), which nevertheless poses certain contractual problems that still need to be resolved in the courts. The filmmaker, who also claims he is now bankrupt, took the opportunity to announce that he was going to follow this up very rapidly with two more films: a road movie (L'Agneau de Dieu) and Soeur Marguerite, which will be based on the life of a female poet sentenced to be burned at the stake in the 14th century. 

This withdrawal of the winner of the 2013 Palme d'Or leaves the following as the main French candidates for the competition, in order of buzz: The Workshop by Laurent Cantet, Ismael’s Ghosts by Arnaud Desplechin, The Guardians by Xavier Beauvois and Rodin [+see also:
film profile
by Jacques Doillon. The vanguard of the outsiders includes BPM (Beats per Minute) by Robin Campillo, Dark Glasses by Claire Denis and La Douleur by Emmanuel Finkiel. However, we haven’t heard the last of Redoubtable [+see also:
film profile
by Michel Hazanavicius, particularly as a potential opening film.

While rumour has it that the two Netflix titles (Okja by South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho and War Machine by Australia’s David Michôd) will apparently not be present at Cannes, we have high hopes of seeing Happy End by Austria’s Michael Haneke, Loveless by Russia’s Andrey ZvyagintsevBased on a True Story by Poland’s Roman PolanskiA Gentle Creature by Ukraine’s Sergei Loznitsa, The Beguiled by American director Sofia Coppola, Wonderstruck by her fellow countryman Todd Haynes, The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Greece’s Yorgos LanthimosThe Square by Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund, Thelma [+see also:
film profile
by Norway’s Joachim Trier, Jupiter's Moon by Hungary’s Kornel Mundruczo and The Racecar and the Jailbird by Belgium’s Michael R Roskam in competition on the Croisette. The Asian (Naomi Kawase? Hong Sang-soo?) and Latin American (Diego Lerman? Santiago Mitre? Michel Franco?) contingents for the competition remain shrouded in mystery, and female-helmed surprises cannot be ruled out either (Haifaa al-Mansour, Lisa Langseth, Clio Barnard, Urszula Antoniak, Barbara Albert or even Malgorzata Szumowska).

In no particular order, and without going into too much detail, in terms of the documentaries, Visages, villages by Agnès Varda and JR, Le vénérable W. by Barbet Schroeder and Nothingwood by Sonia Kronlund are very well placed on the list of the bookies’ insiders. It has also been announced that at least one Italian feature debut should be in a parallel section, and good omens also abound for Valley of Shadows by Norway’s Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen (see the news) and, on the French side, titles such as Mrs. Hyde by Serge Bozon (see the news), La villa by Robert Guédiguian K.O. by Fabrice Gobert (see the news), Espèces menacées by Gilles Bourdos (see the news) and Ava by Léa Mysius (see the news).

Now, all that’s left to do is place your bets! The final verdict will be unveiled on 13 April for the Official Selection, 24 April for the Critics’ Week and 25 April for the Directors’ Fortnight.

(Translated from French)

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