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Our 20 Most-Anticipated Films of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Written by on May 13, 2019 

The Cannes Film Festival, cinema’s most esteemed yearly event, begins this week. While we’ll soon be on the ground providing coverage, today brings a preview of what we’re most looking forward to among the eclectic line-up, ranging from films in competition to select titles on the various sidebars. Check out our most-anticipated features below and follow our complete coverage here throughout the month. Make sure to also follow our contributors on Twitter: Rory O’ConnorGiovanni Marchini Camia, Leonardo Goi, and Ed Frankl.

20. Family Romance, LLC (Werner Herzog)

The recent narrative output of Werner Herzog hasn’t been stellar, but for his next feature, the intrepid director is stepping far outside his comfort zone. The Japanese-language Family Romance, LLC follows a family in which a father goes missing, and a man is hired to impersonate him. Starring non-professional actors Yuichi Ishii and Mahiro Tanimoto), with music by Ernst Reijseger, hopefully going to the other side of the world to find a new story will inject some life into the dramatic side of Herzog.

19. La Cordillera de los sueños (Patricio Guzmán)

Following his remarkable documentary The Pearl Button, Chilean director Patricio Guzmán is returning with La Cordillera de los sueños aka The Mountain Rainge of Dreams. Exploring the history of his native country’s famous mountaintop, the film is said to close out a trilogy following his last film and perhaps his most acclaimed film Nostalgia for the Light. We can hopefully expect another spiritual, thoughtful examination of the past and present.

18. Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles)

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho–who gave us 2016’s gorgeously-realized, politically-minded drama Aquarius–and his longtime production designer Juliano Dornelles, their next film follows a documentary filmmaker who is depicting a Brazilian village. Seemingly imbuing genre elements, it’s revealed that the locals harbor dangerous secrets. As the first trailer reveals above, it looks like another stunner from the Brazilian team, with some Udo Kier thrown in for good measure.

17. Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)

After his medieval metal feature Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont is returning to the story of the eponymous heroine as she triumphs over the English in the Hundred Years War, and is later put on trial for heresy and burnt at the stake. Don’t expect a similar musical landscape this time around with Joan of Arc as the director told us last year, but we can expect another singular vision from the Frenchman.

16. The Wild Goose Lake (Diao Yinan)

After earning the Golden Bear at the Berlinale for his last film, the noir thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice, director Diao Yinan is entering Cannes competition with the crime drama The Wild Goose Lake. The story of his latest feature follows the leader of a biker gang who is on the run and connects with a woman who is also running out of options, and they both decide to change their destiny.

15. Tommaso (Abel Ferrara)

Abel Ferrara’s immensely busy year continues with another collaboration with Willem Dafoe, one that takes a meta approach to the director’s own life. Tommaso finds the Pasolini star as an American artist living in Rome with his wife and daughter (played by Ferrara’s real-life wife and daughter) in a documentary-like approach with an improvised script. After a string of documentaries that took a personal approach, this seems like the next natural move for Ferrara, and we can’t wait to see the results.

14. The Whistlers (Corneliu Porumboiu)

After his hilarious documentary Infinite Football last year, Corneliu Porumboiu returns to narrative filmmaking this year with The Whistlers. The noir thriller is said to have shades of comedy as we follow a Romanian policeman who gets lost in translation when he ventures to a Spanish island in order to help a detained Bucharest businessman.

13. A Sun That Never Sets (Oliver Laxe)

Oliver Laxe last came to Cannes with the striking, spiritual drama-western Mimosas, and now a few years later he returns with A Sun That Never Sets. The film follows a man who gets in trouble for being accused of starting a fire, and after he gets out of prison, he returns to his quiet life, until another fire begins.

12. Atlantics (Mati Diop)

Not only is Mati Diop one of the few female filmmakers in the Cannes competition line-up, she’s the only director with a debut feature in the slate. After being seen in 35 Shots of Rum and Simon Killer (which she co-wrote), she steps into the director’s chair for Atlantics, the story of a 17-year-old woman whose lover leaves their suburb of Dakar and she’s faced with a new path in life. “What I really wanted to do was to return to Senegal, to return to my origins and try to reconnect with them,” she told THR. “When I went, I realized that I had arrived at a very particular moment in Senegalese history.”

11. Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)

Following up Julieta, Pedro Almodóvar is back with Dolor y Gloria (aka Pain and Glory), his 21st film. Headlined by Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, the tale takes a meta approach as it follows a film director now in his twilight years as he reflects on his life in a series of flashbacks. With a release already underway in Spain to great acclaim, the director will make his international premiere at Cannes in competition.

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