Claire Denis, David Cronenberg, Kelly Reichardt, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and Cristian Mungiu are among the filmmakers heading into the main competition at the seventy-fifth Cannes Film Festival. That’s fantastic news, but hardly surprising, given the flurry of predictions in the days and weeks leading up to this morning’s announcement of the official selection by artistic director Thierry Frémaux and outgoing president Pierre Lescure.
But who knew that Jerzy Skolimowski, the great Polish director of Le départ (1967) and Deep End (1970)—who, by the way, will turn eighty-four in a few weeks—was quietly completing a feature? Eo—cowritten with Ewa Piaskowska, who worked with Skolimowski on Four Nights with Anna (2008) and Essential Killing (2010)—is a contemporary retelling of Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar (1966). In Skolimowski’s version, premiering in competition, the defenseless donkey travels from a circus in Poland to a slaughterhouse in Italy.
For the moment, eighteen films have been selected for the competition, fifteen for the more aesthetically adventurous Un Certain Regard program, and four for the second year of the new Cannes Premiere section. The lineup also includes special and midnight screenings (three each) and six splashy out-of-competition titles such as Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick, which will come packaged with a tribute to Tom Cruise.
Frémaux says he will “fine tune” the lineup next week, adding films, announcing the jury, and presenting the official poster. He’s running a little late this year, which is perfectly understandable, since he and his team have been putting together the 2022 edition during what we hope are the waning days of the pandemic. It’s encouraging, though, to see Cannes back in its regular slot on the calendar after being, for all practical purposes, cancelled in 2020 and delayed in 2021. Cannes 2022 will run from May 17 through 28.
As Kate Erbland points out at IndieWire, only three films by women directors have been selected to compete for the Palme d’Or, which Julia Ducournau won last year with Titane. Percentage-wise, that’s zero improvement over 2021 “and an overall downturn in total inclusion from previous years,” notes Erbland. Again, though, Frémaux is still considering possible additions.
Claire Denis returns to the competition for the first time since her debut feature Chocolat was selected in 1988. Based on Denis Johnson’s 1986 novel, The Stars at Noon features Margaret Qualley as Trish, a struggling American journalist turning tricks in Nicaragua to get by when she meets and falls for Daniel (Joe Alwyn). He says he’s working for an NGO, but he’s being secretly paid by a big oil company. Denis and cinematographer Éric Gautier are working together again after their first collaboration on this year’s Fire.
Michelle Williams plays Lizzie, an artist frantically preparing for a major exhibition, in Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up. Distributed by A24 and billed as “a vibrant and sharply funny portrait,” Showing Up also features Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, John Magaro, André Benjamin, Amanda Plummer, and Larry Fessenden. Yesterday, the Locarno Film Festival announced that it will present an honorary Golden Leopard to Reichardt on August 12.
Les Amandiers, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s fifth feature as a director, stars Louis Garrel as Patrice Chéreau, the director of La reine Margot (1994) and Intimacy (2001) and the cofounding artistic director of the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre. In the late 1980s, young students—one of them played by Léna Garrel, Louis’s half sister—prepare for the exams that they hope will grant them entrance to the prestigious school at Chéreau’s theater.
Another French entry is Arnaud Desplechin’s Brother and Sister, starring Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud as estranged siblings reunited by the death of their parents. From neighboring Belgium come the Dardennes’ Tori and Lokita, the story of two young Africans who team up to start new lives in Europe, and Lukas Dhont’s Close, which focuses on the troubled friendship between two thirteen-year-old boys.
James Gray looks back to the early 1980s when he was growing up in Queens in Armageddon Time, starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. The Guardian’s Catherine Shoard describes Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N. as “a long-awaited multi-strand drama set in contemporary Romania,” and so far, that seems to be all we know.
Broker, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first Korean-language feature, stars Song Kang Ho (Parasite) and Bae Doona (Air Doll) and centers on a baby box where parents can drop off infants they cannot raise. In Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave, a detective played by Park Hae-il (Memories of Murder) investigates a mysterious death in the mountainous countryside and finds himself drawn to the widow (Tang Wei of Lust, Caution).
Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart lead the cast of Crimes of the Future, in which David Cronenberg imagines how humanity might deal with the next phase of its biological evolution. In Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider, a man driven by religious fervor sets out to “cleanse” the holy Iranian city of Mashhad by murdering several prostitutes. Iranian director Saeed Roustayi, best known for Life and a Day (2016), will bring the family drama Leila’s Brothers.
A celebrity couple, a party of billionaires, and a savvy cleaning lady are stranded on a desert island when the yacht captained by a committed Marxist (Woody Harrelson) sinks in Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness. In Tarik Saleh’s Boy from Heaven, the sudden death of a grand imam sets off a power struggle at a university in Cairo. So far, the only Italian film selected for the competition is Mario Martone’s Nostalgia, an adaptation of Ermanno Rea’s 2016 novel about a man who returns to Rione Sanità, his old neighborhood in Naples, after forty years.
Following years spent clashing with Russian authorities, Kirill Serebrennikov (Leto,Petrov’s Flu) has left the country and settled for the time being in Berlin. Tchaikovsky’s Wife, his latest feature, is the story of Antonina Miliukova, who suffered a mental breakdown after the composer married her and then blamed her for his writer’s block and general misery.
Special and Midnight Screenings
Serebrennikov is one of the directors Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa does not want to see cancelled simply because he’s Russian. Loznitsa’s archive documentary The Natural History of Destruction, inspired by W. G. Sebald’s writing on the Allied bombing of Germany in the Second World War, is one of three special screenings. The other two are Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes, which won a grand jury prize at Sundance, and Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind, a documentary from Ethan Coen, who’s going solo after his brother Joel did last year with The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Lee Jung-jae’s lead performance in the hit Netflix series Squid Game made him an international star, and his directorial debut, Hunt, will premiere as a midnight screening. Costarring and cowritten by Lee, Hunt tracks two special agents in Korea’s National Intelligence Service as they race to find a North Korean mole. Quentin Dupieux, whose Incredible But True premiered in Berlin in February, already has another feature, Smoking Makes You Cough. It centers on a group of vigilantes who call themselves the “tobacco forces.” And Brett Morgen, the director of the Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck (2015), spent four years working with archival footage of David Bowie performances to create Moonage Daydream.
Un Certain Regard and Cannes Premiere
When the festival launched Cannes Premiere last year, the focus of Un Certain Regard zeroed in on the discovery of new talent. Seven of the fifteen UCR titles selected so far are debut features, including Beast. Actress Riley Keough (American Honey,Zola) has teamed up with producer Gina Gammell to tell the interrelated stories of three Lakota men living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Known quantities in the UCR program include Agnieszka Smoczyńska (The Lurę), whose The Silent Twins tells the true story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, identical twins from the only Black family in a small town in Wales. Smoczyńska’s first feature in English stars Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance. Hlynur Pálmason (Winter Brothers;A White, White Day) sets Godland in the late nineteenth century, when a young Danish priest travels to a remote region of Iceland to build a church.
A prosecutor is drawn into a small town’s political wrangling in Burning Days, the latest feature from Turkish director Emin Alper, whose films have won awards in Berlin and Venice. Davy Chou (Golden Slumbers,Diamond Island) traces a twenty-five-year-old French woman’s search for her biological parents in Seoul in All the People I’ll Never Be. And Vicky Krieps plays Empress Elisabeth of Austria, struggling against her own idealized image, in Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage.
In the Cannes Premiere program, Olivier Assayas will offer a first sampling of Irma Vep, a limited series adaptation of his 1996 film, itself a riff on Louis Feuillade’s classic silent film serial Les Vampires. This latest iteration features Alicia Vikander, Carrie Brownstein, and Jerrod Carmichael. And after Broken Dreams (1995), a documentary about the kidnapping of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978, and Good Morning, Night (2003), a fictionalization of the event, Marco Bellocchio returns to the story with Outside Night.
Out of Competition
In 2019, Cannes opened with a zombie comedy, Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. This year, the festival will open with Michel Hazanavicius’s zombie comedy, Z (comme Z), which will likely be released in the U.S. as Final Cut. The remake of Shin’ichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead (2017), in which the cast and crew working on a low-budget zombie movie are attacked by actual zombies, stars Romain Duris and Bérénice Bejo.
Also premiering out of competition are Top Gun: Maverick, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, Cédric Jimenez’s November, Nicolas Bedos’s Masquerade—and George Miller’s highly anticipated Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba as a scholar and a Djinn talking about life, the universe, and everything in a hotel room in Istanbul.
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