The Cannes Film Festival may have moved from its pre-COVID May dates and will instead take place in person from July 6-17, but the return to tradition was apparent when festival president Pierre Lescure and director Thierry Fremaux announced the line-up of 63 films from the Normandie Theater in Paris with the poignant opening statement: “Cinema is not dead”.
A French-made (albeit English-language) film will open the 74th annual edition on July 6 at the Palais du Festival. Annette is a musical drama based on an idea by the pop-rock duo Sparks, is co-written by the Mael Brothers and director Leos Carax and stars Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver. That same evening, Jodie Foster will receive the Palme d’Or for Lifetime Achievement.
Quite a number of films in competition were supposed to premiere last year. Among them Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. They join Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World, Sean Penn’s Flag Day, Justin Kurzel’s Nitram, Bruno Dumont’s France, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive my Car, Nadav Lapid’s Ahed’s Knee, Nabil Ayouch’s Casablanca Beats, Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No.6, Joachim La Fosse’s The Restless, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Lihui, Kirill Serebrennikov’s Petrov’s Flu and Sean Baker’s Red Rocket. Quite a few of the main competition participants are returnees: Nanny Moretti will bring his newest film Tre Piani, Asghar Farhadi comes back with A Hero, as do François Ozon (Tout C’est Bien Passé) and Jacques Audiard (Paris 13th District).
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 winner of the Palme d’Or returns with Memoria.
And no doubt, much will be made of the fact that despite Cannes’ pledge to even out the playing field as it concerns gender, only four of the 24 films in this section have female directors: Julia Ducournau with Titane, Catherine Corsini with La Fracture, Mia Hanson-Love with Bergman Island (all three from France) and Hungarian Ildiko Enyedi with The Story of My Wife. All in all, seven films are from Cannes’ home country, three are from the US with Russia, Belgium, Australia, Morocco, Chad, Japan, Thailand, Italy, Iran, Israel, Finland, Norway and The Netherlands rounding out the selection.
Women fare better in the Un Certain Regard section where out of 18 films, almost half are directed by females and a third are debut films including Laura Wandel’s Un Monde (from Belgium), Gessica Généus’ Freda (from Haiti), and Teodora Ana Mihai’s La Civil (from Romania).
The Out-of-Competition section is fairly small with only six films, three of which are from France, one from Korea and two from the US – Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater and Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground.
There is a notable new addition with a selection of Cannes Premieres that will have showings of Oliver Stone’s documentary JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, Andrea Arnold’s Cow, and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s debut Jane Par Charlotte, a documentary about her mother Jane Birkin.
Spike Lee, who was supposed to head the jury last year, remains loyal to the festival and will serve as jury president for this 2021 edition. Romanian director Cristian Mungiu who won the Palme d’Or in 2007, will be chairing the Critic’s Week jury. More jury members will be announced in the coming weeks, along with still developing pandemic safety precautions.
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