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Cannes 2024 Lineup

Zhao Tao in Jia Zhangke’s Caught by the Tides (2024)

Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. broke the news on Tuesday, Francis Ford Coppola confirmed the story a few hours later, and this morning in Paris, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux made it official. Megalopolis, a futuristic story set in the aftermath of the destruction of a major city and shot through with references to the Roman Empire, will premiere in competition during the festival’s seventy-seventh edition (May 14 through 25).

Simmering in the back of Coppola’s mind for decades before he decided to finance its making himself, Megalopolis pits Caesar, an ambitious and idealistic architect played by Adam Driver, against the mayor, Frank Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito). “The debate becomes whether to embrace the future and build a utopia with renewable materials,” explains Fleming, “or take a business-as-usual rebuild strategy, replete with concrete, corruption, and power brokering at the expense of a restless underclass.”

Two weeks ago, Coppola screened Megalopolis for friends, family, and potential buyers, and he found no takers. Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri makes a strong case for ignoring the suits who leaked their baffled reactions and reminds us of the many, many times one of Coppola’s big gambles—Apocalypse Now (1979), for example, or One from the Heart (1982)—was supposed to have ended his career.

Megalopolis is one of nineteen films selected so far to compete for the Palme d’Or, and Frémaux promises to add a few more in the coming days. As IndieWire’s Kate Erbland points out, only four of these films are directed by women. Last year, there were seven, and one of them, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall, took the top prize.

Competition

Let’s start with the four women. Andrea Arnold, who has won Jury Prizes for Red Road (2006), Fish Tank (2009), and American Honey (2016), returns with Bird, starring Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski. According to the BFI, Bird is “the story of twelve-year-old Bailey, who lives with her single dad Bug and brother Hunter in a squat in north Kent.” Variety calls Wild Diamond, the first feature from Agathe Riedinger, “a contemporary coming-of-age story about a young girl who blossoms through a virtual persona on social media.”

Demi Moore, Margaret Qualley, and the late Ray Liotta star in Coralie Fargeat’s horror movie The Substance, and Frémaux advises us to brace ourselves for a whole lot of blood. Payal Kapadia, whose A Night of Knowing Nothing premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in 2021 and won the Golden Eye award for Best Documentary, will bring All We Imagine as Light. Two nurses, one rattled by an unexpected gift from her estranged husband, head to the beach and discover a mystical forest.

At eighty-one, David Cronenberg is four years younger than Coppola, and The Shrouds will be the seventh of his features to premiere in competition. The first, Crash, won the Jury Prize in 1996, when Coppola was president of the jury (and this year’s president, in case you need reminding, will be Greta Gerwig). The Shrouds stars Vincent Cassel as an innovative entrepreneur who develops a device for communing with the dead.

Last summer, Jia Zhangke said that he was close to completing We Shall Be All, which traces two decades in the life of a woman (Zhao Tao). He began shooting off and on in 2001, and Caught by the Tides is probably the same project with a new title. Gilles Lellouche’s musical comedy Beating Hearts, starring François Civil and Adèle Exarchopoulos, also spans twenty years. It’s the love story of a rich girl and a working-class boy interrupted by a twelve-year prison sentence for the boy.

Another musical comedy, Jacques Audiard’s Emilia Perez, stars Karla Sofia Gascón as the head of a Mexican cartel who becomes a woman not only to escape the authorities but also because she’s always wanted to. The cast includes Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldaña, and Édgar Ramírez. Mikey Madison stars in Sean Baker’s sex-worker comedy, Anora. In Karim Aïnouz’s erotic thriller Motel Destino, Heraldo, a young man who’s botched a hit, runs from the police and the gang he’s let down to a roadside sex hotel in northern Brazil. Heraldo and the hot and frustrated wife of the hotel’s owner catch each other’s eye.

Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, Hunter Schafer, Joe Alwyn, Hong Chau, and Mamoudou Athie take on multiple roles in the three stories Yorgos Lanthimos tells in Kinds of Kindness. In Christophe Honoré’s Marcello mio, Chiara Mastroianni finds a unique way of dealing with the ghost of her father in the company of her mother, Catherine Deneuve. Ali Abbasi (Border, Holy Spider) directs Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump in The Apprentice, featuring Maria Bakalova as Ivana and Jeremy Strong as right-wing lawyer Roy Cohn.

Jacob Elordi plays a young Leonard Fife, an American writer who’s fled to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War, and Richard Gere plays Fife as an older, tormented man in Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada, an adaptation of Russell Banks’s 2021 novel, Foregone. Kirill Serebrennikov directs Ben Whishaw in Limonov: The Ballad, working with a screenplay by Ben Hopkins and Paweł Pawlikowski based on Emmanuel Carrère’s 2011 novelized biography of Russian dissident Eduard Limonov.

Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights) enters the competition for the first time with Grand Tour. In 1917 Rangoon, a civil servant for the British Empire abandons his fiancé, who then tracks his path throughout Asia. Set in the same era but in a different city, Copenhagen, Magnus von Horn’s The Girl with the Needle stars Vic Carmen Sonne as Karoline, a pregnant factory worker who befriends Dagmar (Trine Dyrholm), a woman who runs an underground adoption agency.

In a director’s statement announcing Parthenope last summer, Paolo Sorrentino said that he intends to tell the story of a woman whose “long life embodies the full repertoire of human existence: youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering, real and invented fathers, endings, and new beginnings.”

Un Certain Regard

Xavier Dolan will preside over this year’s Un Certain Regard jury. As Ben Kenigsberg once put it in the New York Times, the section founded in 1978 is “about looking to new horizons and filmmakers,” though it can also accommodate the inclusion of Cannes veterans as well. Roberto Minervini, for example, who has won a cluster of awards in Venice over the years, premiered his documentary The Other Side in Un Certain Regard in 2015. Les Films du Losange has just picked up The Damned, Minervini’s narrative feature set during the Civil War.

Of the fifteen titles in the program, six are debut features, including September Says, from Ariane Labed, the star of Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg (2010) as well as Alps (2011) and The Lobster (2015), directed by her husband, Yorgos Lanthimos. Based on Daisy Johnson’s 2020 novel Sisters, September Says is the story of a single mom who finds the bond between her two daughters, July and September, disturbing. In Laetitia Dosch’s courtroom comedy Dog on Trial, a lawyer agrees to defend a dog accused of biting three people.

A good number of distributors have announced acquisitions since this morning. On Becoming a Guinea Fowl, Rungano Nyoni’s follow-up to I Am Not a Witch (2017), goes to A24. Pyramide International has taken Truong Minh Quý’s Viet and Nam, the story of two coal miners. Before Nam leaves the country, he sets out to find his deceased father’s missing body.

Totem Films will work with director Mo Harawe on The Village Next to Paradise, the story of a family in a remote Somali village. And Charades has taken international sales rights to Hiroshi Okuyama’s My Sunshine, in which two children on a Japanese island team up as a figure-skating duo.

Out of Competition and More

As previously announced, Quentin Dupieux’s new comedy The Second Act, starring Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, and Vincent Lindon, will open Cannes 2024. Earlier this week on the New Yorker Radio Hour, Justin Chang explained why George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is high on his list of most-anticipated films of the year. Kevin Costner will launch Horizon, An American Saga, a western arriving in U.S. theaters in two parts later in the summer.

Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander play world leaders at a G7 summit who go off into the woods to compose a joint statement—and then get lost—in Rumours, a comedy directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson. In She’s Got No Name, which addresses the progress of women’s rights in China, Peter Chan Ho-sun directs Zhang Ziyi, Lei Jiayin, Jackson Yee, Zhang Zifeng, Fan Wei, Wang Chuan-jun, Yang Mi, and Zhao Liying.

Launched in 2021 as the pandemic was receding and Cannes was inundated with submissions, the noncompetitive program Cannes Premiere remains tough to define or describe. Frémaux still seems to find it handy, though, as a slot for such films as Leos Carax’s It’s Not Me, a “free-form film” featuring Denis Lavant, and Alain Guiraudie’s Misericordia, in which a young man’s return to his home village sparks a mysterious chain of events. Rithy Panh’s Rendez-vous avec Pol Pot is based on the true story of three French journalists who were invited to interview the leader of the Khmer Rouge in 1978.

This year’s Midnight Screenings will include Noémie Merlant’s comedic horror movie The Balconettes and Sol Cheang’s martial-arts adventure Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In, starring Louis Koo, Sammo Hung, Richie Jen, and Raymond Lam. Among the Special Screenings are three documentaries, Claire Simon’s Apprendre, which focuses on education in France; Sergei Loznitsa’s The Invasion, a study of the war in his home country, Ukraine; and Raoul Peck’s Ernest Cole: Lost and Found, featuring LaKeith Stanfield as the voice of one of the first Black freelance photographers in South Africa.

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