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Cannes Tops Off Its Official Selection

Marion Cotillard in Mona Achache’s Little Girl Blue (2023)

Completing its 2023 Official Selection, Cannes has added thirteen features and one short film, Pedro Costa’s Filles du feu. Last summer, Costa presented a work with the same title as part of a group exhibition in Paris with sculptor Rui Chafes and photographer Paulo Nozolino. As filhas do Fogo drew from sequences shot for Costa’s second feature, Casa de Lava (1994), which focuses on the inhabitants of Fogo, an island in the Cape Verde archipelago. We’ll soon find out whether or not this new short is an extension of that project.

Two new titles have been selected to compete for the Palme d’Or. Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Black Flies stars Tye Sheridan as an idealistic young student preparing for med school by driving an ambulance through New York with a grizzled veteran played by Sean Penn. Last week, Variety’s Elsa Keslassy reported that just before Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux announced the bulk of the lineup earlier this month, Catherine Corsini’s Le retour was pulled due to reports in the French press on allegations of sexual misconduct on the set.

Frémaux and his team have now decided to give Le retour the green light. Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, who won a César for her supporting performance as a nurse in Corsini’s The Divide (2021), plays Kheìdidja, a woman tasked by the wealthy Parisian family she works for to take the kids to Corsica for the summer. Kheìdidja takes her own two daughters as well to the island the three of them left fifteen years ago following a family tragedy.

Cannes Premiere, the noncompetitive program launched in 2021, is now three films richer. The headliner here is Eureka, the first feature from Lisandro Alonso since Jauja (2014). Starring Chiara Mastroianni, Maria de Medeiros, and Viggo Mortensen, Eureka will tell four stories on two continents. “I want to compare the indigenous tribes in North America with those who live in the Amazon, escaping modernity with the hope of keeping their ancestral traditions alive,” Alonso said in 2021. “Though it begins in 1870, Eureka is really a present-tense affair, capturing the tragedy of modernity, a sense of disconnect with nature and an ancestral past in a world alienated by its pursuit of wealth.”

Amat Escalante’s Lost in the Night will track a man’s search for the people responsible for his mother’s disappearance, his run-ins with an incompetent justice system, and his discovery of a tangled network of dark secrets and lies in the summer home of a wealthy and eccentric family. And Virginie Efira stars in Valérie Donzelli’s Just the Two of Us as a woman who believes she’s found the man of her dreams (Melvil Poupaud)—until he reveals himself to be a deeply possessive and dangerous partner.

Frédéric Tellier’s Abbé Pierre: A Century of Devotion, the story of Henri Grouès, who became a priest, joined the French Resistance, and founded the Emmaus charity, will screen out of competition. Alex Lutz’s One Night, starring himself and Karin Viard as a couple who meet cute on the Métro, will close the Un Certain Regard program but will not compete for the top award. Wei Shujun’s Only the River Flows, though, will. Based on a story by acclaimed author Yu Hua, Wei’s third feature centers on a police chief investigating a series of murders in rural China in the 1990s.

Cannes has also added three Special Screenings and two Midnight Screenings. Marion Cotillard plays director Mona Achache’s mother in the docudrama Little Girl Blue, Afghan director Sahra Mani’s documentary Bread and Roses focuses on the lives of women in Afghanistan since the Taliban retook control of the country in 2021, and a brilliant mathematician tosses out all her work and starts fresh in Anna Novion’s Le théorème de Marguerite.

Lee Sun-kyun and Ju Ji-hoon star in Project Silence, Kim Tae-gon’s horror movie about a struggle for survival on a collapsing bridge shrouded in a thick fog. Robert Rodriguez presented Hypnotic, starring Ben Affleck as an Austin cop searching for his missing daughter, as a work in progress at SXSW last month. At the time, Deadline’s Valerie Complex was not alone in suggesting that “Hypnotic still needs work in order to progress because this is all over the place.” But the audience seems to have had a pretty good time, and Richard Whittaker noted in the Austin Chronicle that there was “a thunderous response to the action-packed flick, which hearkened back in tone to Rodriguez’s bloody and cool Mexico Trilogy.”

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