You might say that the rollout of the lineup for the 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (May 13 through 24) began on Monday when the festival announced that Emmanuelle Bercot‘s La Tête haute would open this year’s edition. Or maybe it began back in March when we learned that George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road would be screening Out of Competition on pretty much the same day it hits screens around the world. But the festival holds that it truly began yesterday with the presentation of the lineup for the Short Films Competition and the Cinéfondation. Abderrahmane Sissako and his jury will be presenting the 2015 Short Film Palme d’or on May 24 and three Cinéfondation prizes on May 22.
For many, the really big news yesterday came from the Directors’ Fortnight. Philippe Garrel’s 25th feature, In the Shadow of Women, “a tale of romantic betrayal centered around two impoverished documentary filmmakers adrift in modern-day Paris,” will open the 47th Quinzaine des Réalisateurs.
On to the news of the day. The Official Selection, as announced this morning by festival president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Frémaux—who promises a few more additions to the lineup later this week.
Update, 4/23: Cannes has added nine films to its lineup, and I’ve added each of them in its appropriate section—and noted that they’ve been added today.
Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan (working title). According to the IMDb, this’ll be “the story of a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris.”
Valérie Donzelli‘s Marguerite and Julien. From Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: Donzelli is “trying her hand at a screenplay written in 1971 for François Truffaut, which the renowned filmmaker didn’t get around to shooting…. Written by the director together with Jérémie Elkaïm, and based on the work by Jean Gruault, the story revolves around Julien and Marguerite de Ravalet, the son and daughter of the Lord of Tourlaville, who have had great affection for one another since they were children. But as they grow up, their tender love turns into an all-consuming passion. Their affair completely outrages society, which then hunts them down. Unable to fight against their feelings for each other, they are forced to run away…” With Anaïs Demoustier, Jérémie Elkaïm, Aurélia Petit, Frédéric Pierrot, Bastien Bouillon, Sami Frey and Geraldine Chaplin.
Michel Franco’s Cronic. Added on 4/23. With Tim Roth and Bitsie Tulloch. From Deadline‘s Jen Yamato: “Chronic tracks a depressed nurse practitioner who assists terminally ill patients and tries to reconnect with the family he abandoned. Tulloch will play Lidia, whose father John will be played by Pulitzer-winning playwright Michael Cristofer.”
Matteo Garrone‘s The Tale of Tales. Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli spoke with Garrone last year about the project, “a collection of fairy tales by 17th century Italian author Giambattista Basile which, among other stories, contains the earliest versions of famous fables like ‘Rapunzel,’ ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Cinderella,’ and asked: “What made you want to work with this book?” Garrone: “I chose to enter Basile’s world and make it my own because when I read them I immediately felt these stories were something familiar. I really connected with their spirit, their irony and also with their dark aspects. In his fables I found that mix of real and unreal that has always characterized what I strive for as an artist. This project could seem far-removed from the rest of my work to date. But actually I think it pretty much fits in with what I’ve done so far.”
Todd Haynes‘s Carol. In January, the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth snipped a bit of quotage from Haynes regarding his adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. “It’s a very different kind of ’50s film than ‘Far from Heaven’ was. The feel of it is much less inspired by ’50s cinema, and more by, I guess, photojournalism and a lot of the art photography we were seeing at the time, which has much more gritty… It’s set in the early ’50s, before the Eisenhower era had really taken hold. It was a really transformational and unstable time from the war years into the beginning to what would become the ’50s as we know them. The historical imagery and references we uncovered showed New York was really like an old-world city in great duress: very dirty, very dingy, and very neglected.” With Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, John Magaro and Carrie Brownstein.
Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s The Assassin. From Ioncinema: “A project long in gestation, with initial scenes filming as way back as 2010, production on Hou Hsiao-Hsien casts his usual muse Shu Qi. Based on a short story, this about a female assassin during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) who begins to question her loyalties when she falls in love with one of her targets.” In 2013, David Bordwell visited the set: “I venture this guess: this will be a Hou film first, and a wuxia film a distant second. It will likely be a wuxia film unlike any other.”
Jia Zhangke‘s Mountains May Depart. From MK2: “China in the 1990s. Tao and Dong are in love. Tao leaves Dong to marry a mine owner. 2014. Dong is about to die and sees Tao again. She is divorced and her son exiled in Australia. Australia, 2025. Tao’s son hardly speaks Chinese anymore. The only word that remains is his mother’s name…”
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister. From Gaga Films: “Three sisters—Sachi (29), Yoshino (25) and Chika (21)—live together in an old large house in the city of Kamakura. When their father—absent from the family home for the last 15 years—dies, they travel to the countryside for his funeral, and meet their shy teenage half-sister for the first time. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu (14), they invite her to live with them. Suzu eagerly agrees, and a new life of joyful discovery begins for the four siblings…” In the Hollywood Reporter, Gavin J. Blair notes that this “will mark [Kore-eda’s] fourth appearance in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, just two years after his Like Father, Like Son took the jury prize there and got picked up by Steven Spielberg for a DreamWorks remake.”
Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth. The adaptation’s been written by Jacob Koskoff and Todd Louiso. With Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, Paddy Considine, Elizabeth Debicki and David Thewlis.
Yorgos Lanthimos‘s The Lobster. From the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth: “Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed and Angeliki Papoulia are all aboard the film, which takes place in a dystopian future where single people are arrested and forced to find a mate in 45 days. If they don’t find one, they can either be transformed into an animal of their choosing or get released into the woods. So yes, totally bonkers and totally awesome.”
Maïwenn’s My King. From Ioncinema: “Recounts, over the course of several years, the passionate and intricate love story of a couple with a child.” With Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Bercot, Louis Garrel and Isild Le Besco.
Nanni Moretti’s My Mother. The first reviews are out, so a roundup’s on the way: Lee Marshall (Screen), Vittoria Scarpa (Cineuropa; plus, an interview with Moretti), Jay Weissberg (Variety) and Deborah Young (Hollywood Reporter), who notes that this is a “film about a director shooting a film while her mother is dying in the hospital, shows the Italian filmmaker in a serious, subdued mood, but is enlivened by the absurd comic clash between protag Margherita Buy and her lead actor John Turturro.”
László Nemes’s Son of Saul. From Films Distribution: “In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival trying to save from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.” More from Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa.
Guillaume Nicloux’s The Valley of Love. Added on 4/23. With Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert. From Le Pacte: “Isabelle and Gérard, separated for many years, just lost their son Michael. However, six months after his death, they receive a letter from him in which he arranges a meeting in Death Valley, in the very heart of the United States. Despite the absurdity of the situation, mother and father decide to go there and wait for Michael…”
Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth. From the Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver: “We know the plot outline involves Michael Caine playing a semi-retired classical composer, and Harvey Keitel as his film-director pal, on holiday in the Alps; and that Caine gets a summons from the Queen of England for a final concert.” With Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano.
Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs. Ioncinema notes that this is “the story of a famous war photographer [Isabelle Huppert] who is killed in a car accident, leaving behind her husband [Gabriel Byrne] and two sons, one a teenager. Three years after her death, the eldest son [Jesse Eisenberg] comes home for an exhibition of her photography, and that is when they discover an unsettling secret from her past.” Montages has the first round of stills.
Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees. From EW‘s Sara Vilkomerson: “Matthew McConaughey plays Arthur, a man who has lost his way in life and treks into the thick forest at the foot of Mount Fuji looking for existential answers.” McConaughey: “Everyone is going to leave the theater and have their own walk and talk through the parking lot to muse about its meanings, what it was about and what it wasn’t, what was real and what was a dream.” With Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts.
Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario. The AP notes that it’s “a crime drama starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin about an FBI agent who joins the CIA in an operation to stop a Mexican drug lord.” They forgot to mention Benicio del Toro.
OUT OF COMPETITION
Woody Allen’s Irrational Man. The synopsis via the Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver (who’s also got the first still): “On a small town college campus, a philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) in existential crisis gives his life new purpose when he enters into a relationship with his student (Emma Stone).” With Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley.
Emmanuelle Bercot‘s Head Held High. From Cannes: “La Tête haute tells the story of Malony, and his upbringing from six to eighteen years, as a children’s judge and social worker try to save him. It was filmed in the Nord-Pas de Calais, Rhône-Alpes and Paris area regions, with the participation of Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, Sara Forestier and Rod Paradot, who plays the main character.”
Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen’s Inside Out. As everyone knows by now, including Wikipedia, the latest animated feature from Pixar and Disney is “set in the mind of a young girl, Riley Anderson, where five emotions—Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness—try to lead the girl through her life” and the “voice cast features Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan and John Ratzenberger.”
Luc Jacquet’s Ice and the Sky. Added on 4/30. Once the awards are presented on May 24, Cannes will close with Jacquet’s documentary about “the scientific discoveries of Claude Lorius who left in 1957 to study the Antarctic ice. In 1965 he was the first to be concerned by global warming and its consequences for the planet.” Says Jacquet: “Showing this film in the world’s largest film festival is contributing to this huge challenge facing humanity as quickly as possible to secure its future and the future of the planet. My language is cinema. In different times, I would have made other films. But I make fierce cinema, political cinema, cinema that has no choice.”
George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Again, Wikipedia‘s most succinct about a movie that, by this point, needs little introduction. It’s “the fourth film of Miller’s Mad Max franchise. The first film of the franchise in 30 years, Fury Road is also the first Mad Max film not to feature Mel Gibson as ‘Mad’ Max Rockatanasky, with Tom Hardy replacing him. It also stars Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa.”
Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince. From Cartoon Brew‘s Amid Amidi: “The $80 million film—is this the most expensive French animated feature of all-time?—is an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic 1943 novella The Little Prince, but it also has a wrap-around story about a contemporary girl discovering the book through a reclusive elderly neighbor.” With the voices of Marion Cotillard, Riley Osborne, James Franco, Mackenzie Foy, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams and Benicio del Toro.
UN CERTAIN REGARD
Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s Cemetery of Splendour. Added on 4/23. Reporting from the set for Film Comment, Giovanni Marchini Camia notes that Cemetery “reflects on the social and political troubles that have afflicted Thailand in recent years and whose roots stretch back centuries. One of Apichatpong’s regulars, Jenjira Pongpas, plays a middle-aged woman who tends to a soldier suffering from an incurable sleeping sickness, played by Banlop Lomnoi reprising his role from Tropical Malady. A tentative romance blossoms that can only be realized through an escape into dreams, but this oneiric idyll is threatened by sinister forces. The political meaning is buried within an outwardly innocuous but deeply melancholic narrative, reflecting the highly symbolic language in which Thai protest is couched due to draconian censorship laws.”
Neeraj Ghaywan’s Fly Away Solo. The Hindu‘s Harshikaa Udasi notes that it’s “a story based in Benaras about four lives that intersect along the Ganga. A lower-caste boy in a hopeless love, a daughter torn with guilt, a father sinking in greed and a spirited kid craving for a family, each one is yearning to escape the constrictions of a small town.”
José Luis Rugeles Gracia’s Alias Maria. Added on 4/23. From the Facebook page: “Through Maria’s eyes, a 13-year-old guerrilla girl, we’ll see the desolate landscape of the armed conflict in Colombia. A war fought by children.”
Grímur Hákonarson’s Rams. From Netop Films: “In a secluded valley in Iceland, Gummi and Kiddi live side by side, tending to their sheep. Their ancestral sheep-stock is considered one of the country’s best and the two brothers are repeatedly awarded for their prized rams who carry an ancient lineage. Although they share the land and a way of life, Gummi and Kiddi have not spoken to each other in four decades. When a lethal disease suddenly infects Kiddi’s sheep, the entire valley comes under threat.”
Naomi Kawase’s AN. Added on 4/23. According to Screen‘s Melanie Goodfellow, it’s “about the friendship between a baker and an old lady who bond over a passion for traditional red bean pastries.” With Toshiyuki Nagase and Kirin Kiki.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore. Ioncinema notes that it’s “an adaptation of a Kazumi Yumoto novel and toplines a pair of Japanese stars Tadanobu Asano and Eri Fukatsu, the latter playing a woman whose husband returns home after mysteriously disappearing for three years. The pair embark on a trip to visit all the people who helped him during his voyage.”
Laurent Larivière’s I Am a Soldier. From Cineuropa: “Sandrine, 30 years old, is forced to return home in Roubaix to live with her mother. She is unemployed and accepts to work with her uncle in a kennel, which turns out to be a hub for dog trafficking from Eastern Europe. She rapidly acquires authority and respect in this world dominated by men, and earns the money that could provide her with her freedom. But sometimes even good soldiers stop taking orders.” With Louise Bourgoin, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Laurent Capelluto and Nina Meurisse.
Dalibor Matanic’s The High Sun. From Kinorama: “Three different love stories, set in three consecutive decades, in two neighboring Balkan villages burdened with a long history of inter-ethnic hatred: this is a film about the dangers—and the enduring strength—of forbidden love.”
Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub (Trap). Added on 4/23. From Letterboxd: “The story of the rebuilding of their lives by the survivors of the disaster caused by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, particularly focusing on the struggles of a mother who lost their children.”
Roberto Minervini’s The Other Side. “With my previous films, I have explored the steady disintegration of the family institution, in ‘blue collar America,'” writes Minervini in his director’s statement. “This time, the journey brings me to West Monroe, in Northern Louisiana. This is the native town of Todd Trichell, the patriarch of the family of bull riders featured in my last film, Stop the Pounding Heart. So, once again, I have been granted ‘preferential access’ to a reality that is inaccessible to most, and unknown to many. This is the land of the ‘new poor,’ where 60% of the population (mostly white) is unemployed, and is forced to do whatever it takes to earn a few dollars. Often times, their only way out is drugs, both dealing and consuming. In fact, it is not a coincidence that West Monroe has recently become one of the most prominent Methamphetamine capitals of America.”