A generous selection of 20 titles (against last year’s 19 and 2014’s 18) with a mix of festival perennials, first-timers and exciting segues by recent buzz-worthy filmmakers sets the tone for this year’s Cannes International Film Festival.
The announcement of the 2016 edition of the event – its 69th- was made this morning in Paris by festival delegate general Thierry Fremaux and festival president Pierre Lescure. And, as usual, the announcement was met with cries and whispers of discontent: no films from Italy in the main competition!; just two from Asia! (Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’Rosa and Park Chan Wook’s Agassi, aka The Handmaiden); not enough competitive entries by female directors! (three in total: Cannes fave Andrea Arnold’s first US-produced project, American Honey, starring Shia LaBeouf and Sasha Lane; actress/director and Croisette veteran Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of the Moon, starring Marion Cotillard; and Germany’s Maren Ade, making her first entry in the competition with Toni Erdmann).
Other first-time Cannes competitors include Brazil’s Kleber Mendonça (Neighboring Sounds) with his most recent work, Aquarius; France’s Alain Guiraudie (Stranger by the Lake) with Staying Vertical (Rester Vertical); and Romania’s Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) with Sierra-Nevada, one of three entries from the country in the main competition.
The US has a massive presence this year in Cannes, both in and out of competition, with a slate of highl-anticipated, awards-inclined titles. In the main competitive selection there’s Jeff Nichols’ Loving, starring Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon and Ruth Negga; Sean Penn’s The Last Face, starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem; and Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, with Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani.
A co-production of his native Denmark with France and US, Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly anticipated horror pic Neon Demon is in competition as well, with a cast led by Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone and Christina Hendricks. Hollywood expat Paul Verhoeven now flies the pan-European co-production flag with Elle, a French-language drama starring Isabelle Huppert. And Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan brings his It’s Only The End of The World, starring Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassell.
Many Cannes veterans return this year in the main competition: Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta; the Dardenne brothers’ The Unknown Girl; Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper; Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake; and Cristian Mungiu’s Bacalaureat.
As usual, more announcements will made in the following weeks, for both the competition and special screenings, likely bringing this year’s Cannes slate to record-breaking totals.
So far, the special out-of-competition screenings are dominated by high-profile American films: Woody Allen’s Café Society will screen on opening night, and Steven Spielberg’s fantasy saga The BFG, Jodie Foster thriller Money Monster and Shane Black’s crime dramedy The Nice Guys will be shown on special-night galas. This already guarantees a red carpet contingent comprised of George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Caitriona Balfe, Dominc West, Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall and Bill Hader. And what would be of Cannes without a healthy dollop of star pixie dust?