PARIS – It will take place under the unofficial theme of “Love & Politics,” with this year’s festival taking place in the lead-up to European elections, as festival programmer Thierry Frémaux remarked this morning. This 2019 selection includes more women than ever before (four women-made films in the competition section alone), no films from Japan or Iran and a Tarantino film whose coming to Cannes is shrouded in mystery. Will he or won’t he finish it on time? My money is on the latter. Tarantino’s work-in-progress “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was shot in 35mm, which creates longer delays in terms of post-production. Compare to the Christophe Honoré film “Room 212,” (from the Un Certain Regard selection) which was still shooting in snow-covered Paris, Rue Delambre (on the Left Bank), two weeks ago. Some filmmakers who bring their work to the Cannes Festival were still in the editing room the night before the red carpet premiere.

No matter, Quentin Tarantino’s film appeared to be the most anticipated one at this morning’s press conference.

Across all sections (Un Certain Regard and the Competition slate) several first films should be noted, such as “Les Misérables,” by Ladj Ly, a filmmaker from Mali, Brazil’s Karim Aïnouz’s “Vida Invisivel” (“Invisible Life” in the Portuguese original), but also Annie Silverstein’s “Bull,” and Danielle Lessowitz’s “Port Authority,” a film on survival and asserting of the self. At this morning’s press conference, some familiar names came up, like Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach, Marco Bellocchio or Xavier Dolan. It’s always reassuring to find out that certain essential filmmakers want the life of their film to begin at the Cannes Festival.

One filmmaker we’ve grown used to seeing at Cannes who is absent from this year’s rolls is Brillante Mendoza. After noticing his latest film, “Alpha: the right to kill” roll out in Parisian theaters in April, strange happenstance, I reached out to him to ask whether he didn’t have the Cannes bug anymore or not. His response to me was, “Cannes will always be close to my heart. It’s just that I feel a need to expand, explore, or even support, other festivals. In fact I might become even more visible in other festivals’ slates in future.”

This isn’t the final tally of films, the Cannes Festival is expected to add a few more titles to the mix. But I do notice the lack of Iranian films this year. What happened? I’m not sure. But that question isn’t directed at Thierry Frémaux, the festival’s programmer, but rather to the Iranian community of filmmakers.

Here is the tentative list of the films that will appear in competition (this space will be updated as new films are added) :

“The dead don’t die,” directed by Jim Jarmusch
“Dolor y Gloria,” by Pedro Almodovar
“Il Traditore,” Marco Bellocchio
“Gisaengchung,” Bong Joon Ho
“Young Ahmed,” Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne
“Roubaix, une lumière,” Arnaud Desplechin
“Nan Fang Che Zhan De Je Hui,” Diao Yinan
“Atlantique,” Mati Diop
“Matthias and Maxime,”directed by Xavier Dolan.
“Little Joe,” by Jessica Hausner
“Sorry we missed you,” directed by Ken Loach
“Les Misérables,” directed by Ladj Ly
“Une Vie Cachée,” directed by Terrence Malick
“Bacurau,” directed by Kleber . Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles
“La Gomera,” directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
“Frankie,” by Ira Sachs (featured image)
“Portrait de la jeune fille en feu” (“Portrait of a young woman on fire”), directed by Céline Sciamma
“It must be heaven,” directed by Elia Suleiman
“Sibyl,” directed by Justine Triet

Ali Naderzad will be reporting from the Cannes Festival from May 14th to the 25th.