Canadian, French and European helmers dominate the Competition roster for the 67th Cannes Film Festival. And, in what could be a record, there are 15 female directors across the entire Official Selection which was unveiled this morning in Paris. In total, 50 movies out of 1,800 submissions make up the Official Selection that encompasses the Competition, Un Certain Regard and the special screenings sections. Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week are announced next week. Many of the titles revealed today had been tipped, and there were no major surprises. But, as is Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux‘s habit, more films may be added before Grace Of Monaco kicks off the Riviera proceedings May 14.
Two movies that were highly anticipated from U.S. directors are in the mix: Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. Occupying the big Hollywood slot, DreamWorks Animation, as expected, will premiere How To Train Your Dragon 2 Out Of Competition. Frémaux, who first programmed DWA’s Shrek in Competition in 2001, said having the Dragon sequel in town was a way to “celebrate 20 years of DreamWorks” and a way “for us to thank them for the films they’ve given us over the years.”
Some movies that looked like long-shot possibilities coming in were indeed left out. There was no mention of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice today, despite what we’ve heard was a full-court press by Frémaux. He noted that neither Terrence Malick (with Knight Of Cups) nor Emir Kusturica (with On The Milky Road) were ready. When asked what had become of Abel Ferrara’s Welcome To New York, the controversial film inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Khan scandal and starring Gérard Depardieu, he said tradition held that we “only talk about the films that we’re showing, so I’m not going to talk about Ferrara’s film.” However, scuttlebutt in the UGC Normandie theater this morning was that the film may be a late addition to the Out Of Competition lineup.
Miller’s Foxcatcher, with Channing Tatum and Steve Carell, had been tipped to make its debut on the Croisette in the past few weeks. The film initially was due for an awards-season bow late last year, but Sony Pictures Classics changed that so the filmmakers could have more time to finish. Similarly, out-of-competition opening-night film Grace Of Monaco moved out of the awards corridor last year and will debut in Cannes. Frémaux said last year’s jury president Steven Spielberg had spoken highly of Jones’ The Homesman. The 19th century-set Western stars Jones, Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, James Spader and more. It also has a French flavor as it’s produced by Luc Besson. This is Jones’ second time in Competition with a film he directed. His Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada won two prizes in 2005.
The Canadian contingent is out in force this year. David Cronenberg‘s Maps To The Stars has a Competition berth. Frémaux called it the director’s answer to Robert Altman’s The Player, minus the long opening tracking shot. Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska star. Atom Egoyan will be in Competition for the sixth time with The Captive, a kidnapping drama with Ryan Reynolds. And, 25-year-old veteran Xavier Dolan moves up to the Competition for the first time with Mommy. The helmer won three prizes in Directors’ Fortnight at just 19 and was famously miffed to be in Un Certain Regard rather than Competition with his Laurence Anyways in 2012. Frémaux acknowledged the brouhaha: “It was very clear he was unhappy not to be in Competition with Laurence Anyways. He has expressed his pleasure at being in Competition now.” Frémaux added of the prolific helmer, “It’s going to be complicated with him if he keeps going at this rate.” The trifecta of Canadian Competition pics is handled by eOne Films International. Also, Canadian-born Ryan Gosling is in Un Certain Regard with his newly titled directorial debut Lost River. Formerly known as How To Catch A Monster, the fantasy pic about a single mother swept into a dark underworld stars Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes and Matt Smith. Warner Bros has the U.S. on the film that’s handled internationally by Sierra/Affinity.
France is well-represented this year. Olivier Assayas’ drama Clouds Of Sils Maria is in English and stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz. Frémaux noted that there’s a surprise bit of casting here that has an “amazing effect.” Assayas has been in Competition five times before, most recently with Clean in 2003. Also from France is Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, the second biopic this year of the designer. It’s produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp and stars Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s Léa Seydoux with Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Brady Corbet who’s also in Sils Maria. Also from France, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius is back in Competition with The Search, a Chechen War drama that looks at human conflict through four lives that are brought together by a shocking twist of fate. The Artist‘s Bérénice Bejo stars.
Other Cannes habitués include Jean-Luc Godard with his 3D Goodbye To Language, which Fox acquired back in 2012; and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne who have won the Palme d’Or twice. They’re in with Two Days, One Night which has a buzzed-about performance by Marion Cotillard.
British helmers represented, as expected, are Mike Leigh with JMW Turner biopic Mr Turner (Sony Pictures Classics) starring Timothy Spall as the painter; and Ken Loach with Jimmy’s Hall. The period film set in Ireland is understood to be the 77-year-old’s last narrative feature. Among the other titles to make the Competition cut are two from female directors: Still The Water by Japan’s Naomi Kawase and Le Meraviglie from Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher. Also in the mix is Winter Sleep. The drama from Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan runs 3 hours and 16 minutes, and Frémaux promised they would try to schedule it early on in the festival for optimum viewing by the normally bleary-eyed press corps. The other titles are Timbuktu from Adberrahmane Sissako, Wild Tales from Damian Szifron and Leviathan from Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose The Return won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2003.
Chinese helmer Zhang Yimou has an out of competition berth with Coming Home, starring Gong Li, but there’s something of a lack of big Asian names across the sections. Wang Chao and July Jung are both in UCR with Fantasia and A Girl At My Door, respectively, however. Also of particular note over in UCR is Ned Benson’s The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and The Good Wife‘s Archie Panjabi. Panjabi’s recently departed Good Wife co-star Josh Charles is in Pascale Ferran’s long-awaited Bird People with Anaïs Demoustier. Australia’s Rolf de Heer is returning to the section with Charlie’s Country. He won the Special Jury Prize with 2006′s Ten Canoes. Also from Australia, Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd’s The Rover has a Midnight Screening slot. The sci-fi Outback drama stars Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce.