The Cannes Film Festival, cinema’s most esteemed yearly event, begins in just a few days. 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: Giovanni Marchini Camia and Rory O’Connor.
20. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam)
Hopefully a genuinely worthwhile film rather than a curio as it relates to its long-plagued production history, it’s still not precisely confirmed that Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will actually be legally approved to premiere at the festival. Let’s hope those issues get ironed out in the next few days, as the promise of Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce side by side in a Gilliam-directed feature, especially this one, is too promising to stow away. – Jordan R.
19. 10 Years Thailand (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnnon Siriphol)
We may have to wait until next year for a fully-fledged new Apichatpong Weerasethakul film (starring Tilda Swinton!), but in the meantime he’s contributed to the omnibus feature 10 Years Thailand, premiering at Cannes. Rather than looking at the past decade, these directors–also including Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, and Chulayarnnon Siriphol–have each crafted a look ahead at what their country may fall into under its current military dictatorship. – Jordan R.
18. Fugue (Agnieszka Smoczyńska)
After making waves with her mermaid horror musical The Lure, director Agnieszka Smoczyńska is back, this time in the Critics’ Week section of Cannes. Fugue follows a woman who is suffering from memory loss, yet returns to her family even amongst her inner confusion. It doesn’t quite have the genre hook of the director’s prior feature, but it certainly has a more interesting psychological angle. – Jordan R.
17. The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier)
The latest work from cinematic provocateur Lars von Trier is the very project which caused the controversial filmmaker to paraphrase Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, claiming the film may be his final feature: “I think I’m getting too old for this (shit).” Okay, so maybe he didn’t say ‘shit,’ but von Trier stated that this may indeed be his final film. The House that Jack Built, the director’s first release since his beautifully disturbing two-parter Nymphomaniac, follows a serial killer named Jack, played by Matt Dillon, as he executes a series of vicious murders. Von Trier described the film as his “most brutal,” which after Antichrist, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville, feels like an incredibly bold claim. With Uma Thurman and Riley Keough rounding out the cast, we couldn’t be more curious to see what von Trier has in store. – Tony H.
16. Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
As he preps for his newest film starring Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is returning to Cannes with another feature. Shoplifters, starring Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Kengo Kora, Sosuke Ikematsu, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yuki Yamada, Yoko Moriguchi and Akira Emoto, follows a family of shoplifters who take in an orphan. In recent years, it has seemed like every other film from the director has been a stand-out, so this hopefully follows the trend. – Jordan R.
15. Girls of the Sun (Eva Husson)
No stranger to Cannes Film Festival, Golshifteh Farahani is back this year, leading the war drama Girls of the Sun. Coming from Eva Husson, whose Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) we quite liked at TIFF a few years back, it follows a female battalion in Kurdistan who aim to liberate their hometown “from the hands of extremists, hoping to find her son who is held hostage.” While certainly timely, it also looks to be a well-realized tale from an up-and-coming director who finds herself in the competition for the first time. – Jordan R.
14. Dogman (Matteo Garrone)
Even when he gets too ambitious for his own good (Tale of Tales), Matteo Garrone is deserving of a look. His latest feature Dogman, described as an “urban western,” follows a dog groomer who gets involved in a boxer that terrorizes his small town, so he takes revenge. As for our anticipation, I mean, just look at that still above. – Jordan R.
13. Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)
Returning to Cannes after The Wonders, Alice Rohrwacher’s latest drama follows a peasant and a nobleman living a small village. The two ban together in a kidnapping plot that leads them to experience the city for the first time. Rohrwacher has been one to watch in the past few years, so here’s hoping this serves to be a deserved break-out. – Jordan R.
12. Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski)
After picking up the Oscar for his austerely vivid drama Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski is back, this time in Cannes competition. His latest feature Cold War is described as a “passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other.” Set in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris during the titular era, it’ll be difficult for the director top his best feature, but we’re eager to see what’s in store. – Jordan R.
11. Birds of Passage (Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego)
A perfect double feature with last year’s Lost City of Z, Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent was a visionary, transportive journey and now the director will return this year with his follow-up, co-directed with Cristina Gallego. Opening Directors’ Fortnight, Birds of Passage follows an indigenous family who gets involved in the drug trade in 1970s Colombia as the marijuana business booms. Described as a film noir, western, and Greek tragedy, we can’t wait to see what one of international cinema’s most exciting directors has in store. – Jordan R.
10. Everybody Knows (Asghar Farhadi)
Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation is widely and rightly held to be one of the best films of the 21st century thus far in the way it uses a conflict between two families to expose the systemic ills that are responsible for placing the characters at a moral impasse. His other works largely fall short of that film’s propulsive dramatic momentum and trenchant social commentary, but they still exhibit a mastery of the chamber drama form and feature all-around powerful performances. In other words, even a minor Farhadi work tends to contain much worth sticking around for, and if the powerhouse leads of his forthcoming picture Everybody Knows are any indication, the newest Farhadi film will be anything but minor. Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, the film follows Cruz’s Carolina as she journeys with her family from Buenos Aires to her hometown in Spain and finds her trip unexpectedly disrupted by events that will completely change her and her family’s lives. – Jonah J.
9. Asako I & II (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi)
His five-hour drama Happy Hour earned much acclaim on the festival circuit a few years back and now Japanese director Ryūsuke Hamaguchi has returned, this time with a film less than half the length and now in Cannes competition. Starring Masahiro Higashide and Erika Karata, the logline only reads, “One day Asako’s first love suddenly disappears. Two years later, she meets his perfect double.” And that’s precisely enough to sell us. – Jordan R.
8. The Wild Pear Tree (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Following up one of the best films of the decade so far, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan picked up the Palme d’Or for his drama Winter Sleep. A few years later, he will return to Cannes Film Festival with The Wild Pear Tree. The drama will follow Sinan, a man “who is passionate about literature and has always wanted to be a writer.” The story finds him “returning to the village where he was born” as “he pours his heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, but his father’s debts catch up with him.” Ceylan says, “Whether we like it or not, we can’t help but inherit certain defining features from our fathers, like a certain number of their weaknesses, their habits, their mannerisms and much, much more. The story of a son’s unavoidable slide towards a fate resembling that of his father is told here through a series of painful experiences.” – Jordan R.
7. Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell)
After his hit horror thriller It Follows, which packed an unceasing sense of dread, director David Robert Mitchell is back with a film that looks to be an altogether different outing for the director, stylistically speaking. Clocking in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, the mystery romance follows Andrew Garfield’s character Sam who goes on a personal quest to track down a missing woman (Riley Keough) in a music-filled Los Angeles, complete with hidden clues everywhere… or so he thinks. With a vibrant color palette and an off-kilter comedic-meets-romantic vibe, there’s the feeling of an Inherent Vice-meets-David Lynch-meets-Richard Kelly influence, and we can’t wait. – Jordan R.
6. 3 Faces (Jafar Panahi)
Perhaps the most vital filmmaker of the decade, the films Jafar Panahi has made while under government ban have been an extraordinary look at a filmmaker fighting the powers that be. Following This is Not a Film, Closed Curtain, and Taxi, he’s snuck another film out of Iran with 3 Faces. Another meta tale, it follows actress Behnaz Jafari as she sees an oppressed girl’s call for help and so she turns to Panahi to help her. – Jordan R.
5. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)
Jordan Peele’s blank check meets Spike Lee’s new lease on life. Lee is following up his successes with Chi-Raq and his TV remake of She’s Gotta Have It by teaming up with Jordan Peele (in the producer’s chair.) His newest is an adaptation of the autobiography of Ron Stallworth, a black detective who went undercover to take down the local KKK in Colorado Springs. Stallworth will be played by John David Washington, with Adam Driver and Topher Grace in supporting roles. Those who stuck with Lee through the rough years of crowd-funding and more workmanlike productions will be happy for the man to have such a platform again, and the more fair weather fans among us will appreciate a return to his heyday of feature films dominating the cultural conversation. – Nate F.
4. Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)
Jia Zhangke is singular within contemporary cinema in the way his films keep both the vast and the intimate in sharp focus at all times. On the one hand, he has established himself as a chronicler of the Chinese nation at large, charting phenomena ranging from the local ramifications of globalization (The World) to the various displacements caused by the Three Gorges Dam construction project (Still Life) to the dissolving moral fabric of modern China (A Touch of Sin). And yet, in the process of painting these national portraits, the human face isn’t erased or abstracted. On the contrary, Jia insists on the urgency and beauty of individual stories, suggesting that the concept of nation shouldn’t be one of a monolithic entity but of a multitude of idiosyncratic lives that are irreducible to one ideology or narrative and yet nonetheless constitute greater patterns of national development that are identifiable. In his humane quest for national truth, Jia also reflects on the cinematic medium’s role in this project and plays around with genre, variously infusing his pictures with strains of melodrama, neorealism, sci-fi, and even the wuxia pian. All these tendencies seem poised to resurface in his newest project, Ash is Purest White, in bold and exciting ways. The film tells of “an epic love story set against the backdrop of China’s crime underworld” and stars Jia’s wife and onscreen regular Zhao Tao as well as Liao Fan of Black Coal, Thin Ice fame. – Jonah J.
3. The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard)
It is more or less par for the course that no film at at this year’s Cannes will stir the pot quite like Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book (Le livre d’image, if you’re French and / or uptight), an actor-free visual essay on the contemporary Arab world — something Godard perhaps hasn’t seriously explored on film since, perhaps, 1976’s Ici et ailleurs. You might wish this had the 3D dog, but a) I feel that way about every film post-Goodbye to Language; b) far and away the most brilliant crank in cinema probing the most contested area of the world should do all the same. – Leonard P.
2. Burning (Lee Chang-dong)
It was in 2010 that we last got a feature from South Korea’s Lee Chang-Dong, but he’ll finally be returning this year. Burning, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning,” is a mystery thriller that follows two men and a woman that get involved in a mysterious incident. Starring Yoo Ah-in, Okja‘s Steven Yeun, and Jong-seo, not much else is known aside from a beautiful trailer, but we’re ready for more cinematic poetry from the, ahem, Poetry and Secret Sunshine director. – Jordan R.
1. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan)
One of the best debuts of 2016–and one of the best films, period–was Bi Gan’s dreamlike odyssey Kaili Blues. The Chinese director is now back with his highly-anticipated follow-up, starring Tang Wei (Blackhat, Lust, Caution), Sylvia Chang (Mountains May Depart), Huang Jue (The Final Master), Lee Hong-chi (Thanatos, Drunk), and his Kaili Blues star Chen Yongzhong. Titled Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the detective story follows “a man who returns to his hometown to find a mysterious woman whom he spent an unforgettable summer with twelve years earlier. The woman never told him her name, or any details of her life, and the only thing he remembers is the name of a movie star she wrote on a cigarette packet.” If this brings the inventiveness of his debut and ups the scale, as the first images tease, it could make for the best film of the festival. – Jordan R.
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