PARIS, this morning – One tweet. That’s all I could manage to send from the Cannes Festival’s press conference, the yearly event before-the-event held in a large movie theater at the top of the Champs Elysées. The network (wifi or cellular) quickly crashed, enveloping the event in a blanket of secrecy. After the conference I rushed into a bar nearby so that I could order myself a 7 euro-bottle of water with fizz and do some work.
Wifi problems notwithstanding the event, which was well-attended by an international (but mostly French, obviously) corps of journalists, some distributors and producers and the festival’s press staff, was crashed by a set of protesters who dotted the stage since before we entered the room. They were members of France’s seasonal artist community and held signs protesting France’s labor laws decrying their unemployment insurance package and general working conditions (if I didn’t have a cold and was sitting in the back of the room I would’ve cried out, “you should come and be an artist in America for a few months. Then come back to France—protest over.”
This morning’s rassemblement is a reflection of the bigger polemic ongoing in France, one that’s frequently punctuated with demonstrations and sit-ins, all in response to the famous El Khomry laws, named after the recently-appointed Labor Minister whose main crime appears to want France’s labor laws to better reflect America’s.
Before this year’s selection was unveiled fest president Pierre Lescure graciously allowed the protesters to speak for a few minutes. Afterwards the protestors walked out while shouting their favorite slogans, lowering their voice as they exited the amphitheater.
#Cannes2016 in numbers: according to fest programmer Thierry Frémaux, 1868 long films were reviewed by him and his team this year, with work typically beginning in the Fall. 49 films were ultimately selected. There were 1500 submissions in 2010 and about a 1000 fifteen years ago.
Twenty-eight different countries will represent twenty films in competition, 17 in Un Certain Regard and 5 films out of competition. “We want to maintain the universality of cinema.”
Frémaux reiterated the great Cannes promise that, whoever around the world will send a movie that’s at least an hour long, him and his team will watch and consider it for inclusion in the slate.
There will be 7 first films this year, as opposed to eight ones last year. 5,008 short films were submitted and ten were selected. Germany, Brazil, Cambodia, Denmark, Egypt, Spain, the US, Israel, Italy, Qatar, Singapore, and Chad are among some of the countries represented in 2016. Additionally, a film from Panama may be joining the selection (“a very well-funded film,” Frémaux quipped).
And now to the selection. I’ve been going to the Cannes Festival for ten years now, and it’s near-impossible to predict what the resultant alchemy of grouping all these filmmakers in one slate will be. I will confess to a certain amount of unchecked glee at seeing people like Jodie Foster, Jim Jarmusch, Andrea Arnold and Xavier Dolan appear in this year’s VIP list. How not to feel some tremor of excitement? And then you have lesser-known entities (on the international stage, at least) like Alain Guiraudie, whose L’INCONNU DU LAC (from the 2013 selection) was a near-perfect film. I can’t wait to see what he’s done this time. Eran Kolirin’s THE BAND’S VISIT (2007) right away found its place in my best films of all time list. Will his new film BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS AND THE HILLS top this? The word of the day is, anticipation.
Here’s the full list of films as unveiled by the Cannes Festival this morning:
CAFE SOCIETY, directed by Woody Allen
Out of competition
THE BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg
GOKSUNG, directed by Nao Jing
MONEY MONSTERS, directed by Jodie Foster (starring George Clooney)
THE NICE GUYS, directed by Shen Black (starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling)
GIMME DANGER, directed by Jim Jarmusch (Iggy Pop will be present in Cannes this year with the filmmaker)
BU-SANG-HANEG, directed by Yeon Sang-Ho
L’ULTIMA SPIAGGIA, directed by Thanos Anastopoulos and Davide Del Degan
UNE TRAGEDIE TCHADIENNE, directed by Mahamat Saleh Haroun
LA MORT DE LOUIS XIV, directed by Albert Serra (Spain) and starring Jean-Pierre Léaud
LE CANCRE directed by Paul Vecchiali
Un Certain Regard
INVERSION (VAROONEGI, in the original Persian title), by Beham Behzadi
VOIR DU PAYS directed by Delphine Coulin and Muriel Coulin
LA DANSEUSE, directed by Stéphanie Di Giusto
CLASH (Eshtebak in the original Egyptian title), directed by Mohammed Diab
LA TORTUE ROUGE (THE RED TURTLE), directed by Michael Dudok de Wit
HARMONIUM (FUCHI NI TATSU in the Japanese original), directed by Koji Fukada
PERSONAL AFFAIRS (Omor Shakhsiya in Hebrew), directed by Maha Haj
BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS AND HILLS (Meéever Laharim Vehagvaot), directed by Eran Kolirin
AFTER THE STORM, by Hirokazu Koreeda
THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MAKI (Hymyileva Mies in Finnish), directed by Juho Kuosmanen
LA LONGUE NUIT DE FRANCISCO SANCTIS (La larga noche de Francisco Sanctis), directed by Francisco Marquez and Andrea Testa
DOGS (CAINI in Romanian), by Bogdan Mirica
PERICLE IL NERO, by Stefano Mordini (produced by Valeria Golino)
THE TRANSFIGURATION, directed by Michael O’Shea, vampires in NYC
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, by Matt Ross (this film already premiered in Sundance) starring Vigo Mortensen.
THE DISCIPLE, directed by Kirill Serebrennikov
TONY ERDMANN, directed by Maren Ade
JULIETTA directed by Pedro Almodovar.
AMERICAN HONEY, directed by Andrea Arnold
LA FILLE INCONNUE, directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
PERSONAL SHOPPER directed by Olivier Assayas
JUSTE LA FIN DU MONDE, by Xavier Dolan
MALOUTE, directed by Bruno Dumont.
PATTERSON, directed by Jim Jarmusch
STAYING VERTICAL, directed by Alain Guiraudie.
AQUARIUS directed by Filho Kleber Mendoca
MAL DE PIERRES, directed by Nicole Garcia
I, DANIEL BLAKE, directed by Ken Loach
MA’ROSA, directed by Brillante Mendoza
THE LAST FACE, directed by Sean Penn
BACALAUREAT, directed by Cristian Mungiu
LOVING directed by Jeff Nichols
THE HANDMAIDEN, by Park Chong Wook
THE LAST FAITH, directed by Sean Penn (starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem and Adele Exarchopoulos)
SIERANEVADA, directed by Cristi Puiu
ELLE directed by Paul Verhoeven
THE NEON DEMON, directed by Nicholas Winding Refn