In a rather surprising turn of events, after Cannes skipped on premiering Emmanuelle––Audrey Diwan’s follow-up to her Golden Lion-winning Happening––the film won’t be at Venice, Telluride, or TIFF either as the 72nd San Sebastian Festival announced it will world premiere as their opening night film on September 20. Starring Noémie Merlant, Naomi Watts, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Will Sharpe, see the full announcement below along with a new still.

The French production Emmanuelle directed by Audrey Diwan will open the 72nd San Sebastian Festival in competition. The feature film will be screened as a world premiere on 20 September and will be attended by its director and leading cast.

Diwan, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival with Happening / L’événement in 2021, co-wrote the screenplay with fellow filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowski. The film follows the steps of a woman in search of a lost pleasure, whose business trip to Hong Kong will initiate numerous encounters including her meeting with Kei, a man who constantly eludes her.

The film was inspired by the character and the world created by the writer Emmanuelle Arsan. Conceived by Audrey Diwan as an exploration of pleasure in the post Me Too era, Emmanuelle was shot during the autumn of 2023 in Hong Kong and Paris. 

Actress and director Noémie Merlant (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu / Portrait of a Woman on FireOne Year, One Night,  L’innocent The InnocentTárMi iubita, mon amour…) stars as the film’s eponymous lead character, accompanied by Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive21 GramsThe Impossible…), Will Sharpe (The White Lotus), Jamie Campbell Bower (Stranger Things), Chacha Huang and Anthony Wong.

Audrey Diwan’s debut, Mais vous êtes fous / Losing It (2019), starred Pio Marmaï and Cécile Sallette. Her second film, Happening / L’événementan adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s book about an illegal abortion in the 1960s, featured a cast of new talent from the French scene (Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luàna Bajrami) and won the Golden Lion at Venice, as well as four César nominations and a BAFTA nomination, among other awards. In 2021, Diwan was part of the Official Jury at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Emmanuelle is produced by Chantelouve, Rectangle Productions and Goodfellas. Beta Fiction Spain will distribute the film in Spain. The film will be released in France by Pathé on 25 September.

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