Over the weekend, the Cannes Film Festival added one more title to its robust lineup. Belle, the new animated feature from Mamoru Hosoda, best known for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and the Oscar-nominated Mirai (2018), will screen in the inaugural Cannes Premiere program on July 15, one day before it opens in Japan. The story centers on Suzu, an insecure seventeen-year-old whose alter ego, Belle, is a singer with billions of fans in the virtual world of U.
Cannes is celebrating its return after last year’s cancellation by inviting Bong Joon Ho, whose Parasite (2019) is the most recent film to win the Palme d’Or, to be a special guest at tonight’s opening ceremony. The seventy-fourth edition opens with this year’s first contender, Annette, a musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard and the first feature from Leos Carax since Holy Motors (2012). In a letter to Critics’ Week, Carax congratulates the independent section on its sixtieth anniversary and looks back to when he first attended the festival in the late 1970s. He spent much of his time on the Croisette “hawking magazines on the streets and beaches. Discovered Fassbinder’s films, and ran into Chantal Akerman, her radiant smile (but she didn’t buy one of my Cahiers du cinéma’s 300th issue, Godard special—she already had it).” On his fourth trip to Cannes in 1984, he brought his first feature, Boy Meets Girl.
This year’s Critics’ Week opens tomorrow with Constance Meyer’s first feature, Robust, starring Gérard Depardieu as an aging movie star who strikes up a friendship with the young woman assigned to look after him. Directors’ Fortnight, the other major independent section running parallel to the festival, will open with Emmanuel Carrère’s Between Two Worlds, featuring Juliette Binoche as a writer who takes a job as a cleaning woman to research her next book. Her bonds with her fellow workers are tested when her true identity is revealed.
Whether or not the Cannes 2021 lineup turns out to be one of the best, it’s certainly one of the biggest. Attendees, vaccinated or tested, will stream into theaters that the festival promises to fill to one hundred percent capacity. “The stock phrase ‘out of an abundance of caution’ does not appear to be in the vocabulary of festival artistic director Thierry Frémaux,” notes Barbara Scharres in her overview of the official selection at RogerEbert.com. Other critics scanning the schedules and writing or talking about the films they’re anticipating most include Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, Vulture’s Nate Jones and Rachel Handler, the Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney, and contributors to the Film Stage,IndieWire, the Playlist, and Screen.
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