A very particular bubble, Cannes has a world view that’s all its own. This year that view embraces little of Antipodean origin and overlooks New Zealand entirely. Flying the six stars and jack are new works from Rolf de Heer and David Michod.
de Heer’s Charlie’s Country screens in the Un Certain Regard competition. He has a pair of Palme d’Or nominations, for The Quiet Room and Dance Me to My Song. This year’s Charlie’s Country is the final film in the sort-of trilogy which began in 1992 with The Tracker and continued in 2006 with Ten Canoes, which took away from Cannes an Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize.
Cannes debutante Michod’s The Rover is chosen as a Midnight Screening – so it’s obviously another giggle-fest from the director of Animal Kingdom.
18 films will compete for the Palme d’Or, although “another could be added”, noted Thierry Fremaux in reference to Abel Ferrara’s film Welcome to New York.
By far the most entertaining moment came at the beginning of a post-press conference interview between Fremaux and Variety’s Elsa Keslassy.
“Many films in the official selection … look to say something about contemporary society,” suggested Keslassy, pausing only to name-check a bunch of just-announced titles in support of her theory. “Was that a conscious decision?”
“It’s important for Cannes to not stray from reality,” responded Fremaux with no apparent appreciation for irony. Cannes and reality are not words that often crop up in the same sentence, except during MipTV and MIPCOM.
Those who believe Cannes has become too commercial and US studio-friendly will point to the in-competition selection of films by actors Tommy Lee Jones (main competition, The Homesman) and Ryan Gosling (Lost River, Un Certain Regard) as well as the out of competition selection of Dean DeBlois’ (How to Train Your) Dragons 2, which plays as part of a celebration of 20 years of DreamWorks Studios.
Last year’s Cannes jury president, Steven Spielberg, was one of the founders of DreamWorks in 1994, with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Those who believe Cannes likes who it likes – i.e. those with a strong European arthouse aesthetic – will point to the huge number of returning filmmakers, including two of Cannes most serial of offenders, Jean Luc Godard and Ken Loach, both with titles in the main competition.
Loach is joined in the main competition by fellow Brit and festival regular Mike Leigh. There are also films from the Dardenne brothers, Olivier Assayas, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Wim Wenders… plus some more Godard, the feature of a retrospective.
“Godard has promised to attend,” noted Fremaux during the press conference, before adding, “Which of course doesn’t mean he’ll be here.”
There’s a small Asian presence featuring some very familiar names, Naomi KAWASE and ZHANG Yimou in particular. KAWASE is a three-time Palme d’Or nominee for Hanezu (2011), Shara (2003) and The Mourning Forest (2007), which won a Grand Prix.
She’s one of 15 female directors named yesterday, which should head off some of the now-customary gender bias criticism of Cannes selections.
Zhang is also nought for three in the Palme d’Or department, having been nominated in 1990 with Ju Dou, in 1994 for Huo zhe, which won a Grand Prix, and again in 1995 for Yao a yao, yao dao wai po qiao aka Shanghai Triad.
The lead actress in those three titles was Gong Li (perhaps better known to western audiences for Memoirs of a Geisha and Miami Vice). Twenty years on, she returns to lead Zhang’s out of competition Coming Home.
As the press conference was wrapping up in Cannes, Zhang and Gong were among a host of Chinese and international stars posing on the red carpet at the opening of the Beijing Film Festival, where Coming Home is having its premiere.
Cannes Festival runs 14 – 25 May. Other festival events running alongside Cannes are Critics Week (5 – 23 May) and Directors Fortnight (15 – 25 May).
Cannes’ programme (bar a few late-coming announcements) is:
Olivier DAHAN, Grace De Monaco (Opening Film)
Olivier ASSAYAS, Sils Maria
Bertrand BONELLO, Saint Laurent
Nuri Bilge CEYLAN, Kis Uykusu
Jean-Pierre DARDENNE, Luc DARDENNE, Deux Jours, Une Nuit
Xavier DOLAN, Mommy
Atom EGOYAN, Captives
Jean-Luc GODARD, Adieu Au Langage
Michel HAZANAVICIUS, The Search
Tommy Lee JONES, The Homesman
Naomi KAWASE, Futatsume No Mado (Still The Water)
Mike LEIGH, Mr. Turner
Ken LOACH, Jimmy’s Hall
Bennett MILLER, Foxcatcher
Alice ROHRWACHER, Le Meraviglie
Abderrahmane SISSAKO, Timbuktu
Damian SZIFRON, Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales)
Andrey ZVYAGINTSEV, Leviathan
Un Certain Regard
Marie AMACHOUKELI, Claire BURGER, Samuel THEIS, Party Girl (Opening Film)
Lisandro ALONSO, Sin Titulo
Mathieu AMALRIC, La Chambre Bleue
Asia ARGENTO, Incompresa
Kanu BEHL, Titli
Ned BENSON, Eleanor Rigby
Pascale FERRAN, Bird People
Ryan GOSLING, Lost River
Jessica HAUSNER, Amour Fou
Rolf de HEER, Charlie’s Country
Andrew HULME, Snow In Paradise
July JUNG, Dohee-Ya (A Girl at my Door)
Panos KOUTRAS, Xenia
Philippe LACÔTE, Run
Ruben ÖSTLUND, Turist
Jaime ROSALES, Hermosa Juventud
WANG Chao, Fantasia
Wim WENDERS, Juliano RIBEIRO SALGADO, The Salt Of The Earth
Keren YEDAYA, Harcheck Mi Headro (Away From His Absence)
Out of Competition
Dean DeBLOIS, Dragons 2
ZHANG Yimou, Gui Lai (Coming Home)
CHANG, Pyo Jeok (The Target)
Kristian LEVRING, The Salvation
David MICHOD, The Rover
Aida BEGIC, Leonardo DI COSTANZO, Jean-Luc GODARD, Kamen KALEV, Isild LE BESCO, Sergei LOZNITSA, Vincenzo MARRA, Ursula MEIER, Vladimir PERISIC, Cristi PUIU, Marc RECHA, Angela SCHANELEC, Teresa VILLAVERDE, Les Ponts De Sarajevo (Bridges of Sarajevo)
Polsky GABE, Red Army
Sergei LOZNITSA, Maidan
Mohammed OSSAMA, Eau Argentée
Stéphanie VALLOATTO, Caricaturistes – Fantassins De La Démocratie (Cartoonists – Foot Soldiers Of Democracy)
70th anniversary celebration of Le Monde newspaper
Yves Jeuland, Les Gens Du Monde