Cannes Film Festival adds Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed boxing drama to Official Selection.

Hands Of Stone

Robert De Niro is to return to the Cannes Film Festival (May 11-22) for the world premiere of boxing drama Hands Of Stone. The film has been added to Cannes’ Official Selection as part of the Special Screenings strand and the festival will use the premiere to pay tribute to De Niro.

The Raging Bull star, who was president of the Cannes jury in 2011, has stepped back into the ring for the true story of Panamanian boxer Roberto Duràn (Edgar Ramírez). De Niro plays manager and coach Ray Arcel, who took Duràn to worldwide success in the 1970s and ’80s, which included legendary fights against Sugar Ray Leonard (played by music star Usher).  

De Niro will attend the Cannes world premiere on May 16 in the Palais des Festivals’ Grand Theatre Lumière with Venezuelan director Jonathan Jakubowicz, star Ramírez and actress Ana de Armas.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Cannes especially with this movie Hands of Stone that I’m so proud of,” said De Niro. “This movie is uplifting, triumphant and a good time for audiences, so I’m looking forward to seeing my friends from across the world of cinema in joining us for this fun event.”

Hands of Stone is produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, which will release the film in the US on August 26 after swooping on the film at Cannes last year and committing to a release of at least 2,000 screens.

Harvey Weinstein said: “Hands of Stone is vintage De Niro. Anyone wh‎o knows Bob, knows what a passion he has for boxing and his huge input into this movie made it very realistic and smart.

“On behalf of the company, we are thrilled that the Festival de Cannes chose to honor Bob this year with a special screening. It promises to be a fun time and a fantastic night to pay tribute to one of the great men of our industry.”

De Niro has starred in two winners of the Palme d’Or: Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese in 1976 and The Mission by Roland Joffé in 1986. He has also won two Oscars, the first for The Godfather II by Francis Ford Coppola in 1975 and the other for Scorsese’s Raging Bull in 1981.

Hands of Stone

Speaking to ScreenDaily last month, Venezuelan star Ramirez said: “I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to portray such a legend. He is the most legendary Latin American boxer and one of the greatest the sport has ever seen.

“Duran embodies the identity of an entire country. He’s been able to unite his country at some of its most difficult times and that’s something we explore in the film. The country has been dealing with an identity crisis because of its history – it’s been invaded or crunched by bigger powers from its origins.

“Duran has always been a source of pride; you need to be here in Panama to understand the devotion. The adoration of athletes is something you understand in Europe and the US but here it transcends the sport.”

He added: “It’s a Panamanian film and backed by private financing and the film commission. They used about 15,000 people including extras in making this film. The Weinstein Company will release it later this year, in August, and it will go out in the US on 2,600 screens – a huge amount for a Latin American film. I’d like it to screen here next year.

Producers on Hands Of Stone are Jay Weisleder, Carlos Garcia de Paredes, Claudine Jakubowicz and Jonathan Jakubowicz.