This year’s Cannes Selection was announced this week during a press conference held here in Paris and in fact features a less american-centric selection of films than in years past. That’s not to say Cannes’s programmers haven’t indulged a little of their flair for filmmakers representative of the commercially-viable but frankly-independent fringe “made in USA”: two of our best filmmakers alive today, Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes, will be competing for the Palme D’Or presenting SEA OF TREES and CAROL, respectively. Woody Allen’s IRRATIONAL MAN will be shown out of competition, which marks Allen’s return to the Croisette after a hiatus of several years.
Also noteworthy, Natalie Portman making her directorial debut with the ominous-sounding SIPUR AL AHAVA VE CHOSHECH, which in French has been translated into UNE HISTOIRE D’AMOUR ET DE TENEBRES (“A story of love and darkness”). Anglo-Indian filmmaker Asif Kapadia–who previously earned plenty notice with Cinefondation and BAFTA prizes, and, in 2010, the highly-successful SENNA about Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna–will be be presenting AMY (featured image), a documentary about Amy Winehouse which holds enormous promise. SENNA was England’s second highest-grossing documentary ever behind FAHRENHEIT 9/11, here’s guessing AMY’s going to blow that record out of the water on account of Winehouse being a Brit’n all?
Of the highest importance is the fact that this year is an Jacques Audiard Year in Cannes (but I’m biased). The Cannes Festival could show just about anything in its theaters, as long as there’s a new Audiard movie waiting to be discovered, well, what else could possibly matter in movieland? DHEEPAN features a no-name cast and follows Erran, a former Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who’s fled to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris. What happens in the space of that hour and forty-nine minute-runtime will be mind-blowing, to be sure.
I sat among my fellow journalists at today’s press conference, which is the first one to be held by Pierre Lescure, the festival’s newly-installed president, and of course Thierry Frémaux, whose own team has viewed 1,854 films all year-round and chosen this final selection (with some more titles to be added in the next few weeks). While there have been years when I’ve felt a little deflated by the lineup (too much sameness, too many repeat names), I remember feeling that rare excitement this morning (and it wasn’t the bubbly that was served afterwards in the theater lobby). There is danger in this year’s selection, there is romance, there is the strange eclecticism of a filmmaker like Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”) and the romantic leftie overtures of Nanni Moretti (“Mia Madre”). In addition to being an Audiard year, it is also that of my favorite Chinese filmmaker, Hou Hsiao Hsien, who will be presenting a film called “Nie yinniang” (“The Assassin”). Seriously. Could it get any better?
I’ve left a number of films out but you can link up to the Cannes Festival’s site for the full list of titles and filmmakers, noting on your way that ٔFrémaux and Lescure announced a partial list only this morning. Some titles will be added in the next few weeks.
It’s going to be a smashing year in Cannes, I can feel it! I will be in Cannes for the duration, May 13-24, covering the movie, reporting on the news, chasing the stories.