It’ll be hard to deny it: the Cannes Festival doth Iranian cinema love. Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody knows,” which stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, will open this 71st edition, in a long tradition of showing deference to Iranian cinema. Jafar Panahi, under house arrest in Tehran by order of Iran’s judicial courts (he won the top prize at Berlinale for his “Tehran Taxi” in 2015), has a horse in this race, too: his film is called “Three faces.” In it, the stories of three Iranian actresses, one from pre-revolution days who had to stop acting, one popular star today, and one young girl with an eye on the drama conservatory, loop around each other.

In a bid to preempt any potential snags with Panahi’s visit to the Cannes Festival to support his film next month, which sees the Iranian filmmaker entering into the competition program for the first time, longtime Cannes programmer Thierry Frémaux explained to myself and the rest of the journalists amassed this morning at a movie theater on the Champs Elysées for the press conference, that he will be preparing official invitation letters, destined for Panahi and, also, to the Iranian government, in cooperation with France’s government–call it celluloid diplomacy–to help secure his safe passage.

Because, as Frémaux surmised, once Panahi is out of Iran, he’ll also need to be able to get back into the country. With any hope, and some negotiating finesse, the Cannes Festival will ensure Panahi can make his flesh-and-bone comeback to the Croisette (one remembers the empty jury chair bearing his name at the 2010 Cannes Festival–see image below). Panahi was banned from making films for twenty years and sentenced to six years in prison in December 2010, on various conspiracy charges, by Iran’s government.




The competition films of this 71st Cannes Festival are:

“Todos los saben,” directed by Asghar Farhadi (film opens this year’s program)

“En guerre” (“At War”) directed by Stéphane Brizé.

“Dogman,” by Matteo Garrone

“Le livre d’image,” by Jean-Luc Godard

“Netemo Sametemo (Asako I and II),” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi,

“Plaire aimer et courir vite,” (“To please, love and run fast”) by Christophe Honoré

“Les filles du soleil” (“the girls of the sun”), by Eva Husson

“Ash is purest white,” by Jia Zhang-Ke

“Shoplifters,” by Kore-Eda Hirokazu

“Capharnaum,” by Nadine Labaki

“Buh-Ning” by Lee Chang-Dong

“Blackkklansman” by Spike Lee

“Under the silver lake,” by David Robert Mitchell

“Three faces,” by Jafar Panahi

“Zimna Wojna,” Pawel Pawlikowski

“Lazzaro Felice,” by Alice Rohrwacher

“Yomeddine,” by A.B. Shawky

“Leto,” by Kirill Serebrennikov

Many non-competition and special screening films were also added to the slate, and a few other films will follow, as well, in the next few days.

Ali Naderzad will be in Cannes covering the festival between 8-19 May.

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