Welcome to Screen’s new Cannes 2011 Competition blog.

Editor Mike Goodridge will be offering insights and reactions from the daily Cannes Competition screenings. Stay tuned to this blog for everything you need to know about the Palme d’Or race.

Meanwhile, Screen profiles the 20 Cannes 2011 Competition films below.

Sleeping Beauty (Aus)

Dir: Julia Leigh

Sydney-based novelist-turned-film-maker Leigh lands a Competition slot with her debut feature (the script made it onto Hollywood’s Black List in 2008). This erotic fairy tale stars Emily Browning, whose credits include Sucker Punch, as a student drawn into a world where old men seek erotic experiences while she sleeps in a beauty chamber. Cannes regular Jane Campion mentored Leigh on the production and is ‘presenting’ the film for release. Paramount/Transmission is distributing in Australia.

Int’l sales: Entertainment One

Contact: e1tv@e1ent.com


We Need to Talk About Kevin (UK)

Dir: Lynne Ramsay

This adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s bestselling book marks Scottish auteur Ramsay’s first feature since 2002’s Morvern Callar (which screened in Directors’ Fortnight) and is the only UK film in Official Selection. Tilda Swinton plays the mother of a teenage boy (Ezra Miller) who goes on a high-school killing spree, trying to deal with her grief by writing to her estranged husband (John C Reilly). Backers include BBC Films and the UK Film Council. Producers are Luc Roeg for Independent with Jennifer Fox and Robert Salerno.

Int’l sales: Independent

Contact: mail@independentfilmcompany.com


The Tree Of Life (US)

Dir: Terrence Malick

This much-anticipated new film from Malick has been linked to several film festivals, but finally gets a Cannes slot. The beautiful, though cryptic, trailer points to a complex and philosophical 1950s-set drama centring around a family with three boys, with a cast including Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. Malick won the best director prize in 1979 for Days Of Heaven, and while never prolific he has a status with critics as a masterly film-maker. Summit is handling foreign sales on behalf of River Road, and Fox Searchlight will release in the US.

Int’l sales: Summit Entertainment

Contact: www.summit-ent.com


We Have A Pope (It)

Dir: Nanni Moretti

This new film from the Italian director has recently opened in his home country, winning plaudits for its sumptuous cinematography and grossing $4.4m from two weeks on release. The director (and co-scriptwriter) plays a major role as a therapist to an insecure new pope, played by Michel Piccoli. At $11.9m (€8m), it is Moretti’s most expensive film to date. He won the Palme d’Or in 2001 for The Son’s Room.

Int’l sales: Fandango Portobello Sales

Contact: www.fandangoportobello.com


Hanezu no tsuki (Jap)

Dir: Naomi Kawase

Kawase’s third film in Cannes Competition is based on a novel by Masako Bando, set in the Asuka region where Japanese culture first emerged. A contemporary drama, it looks at humanity against the broad sweep of time from ancient civilisation to the present day. Kawase was previously in Competition with Sharasojyu in 2003 and The Mourning Forest, a contemplation on death and nature which was the surprise winner of the Grand Prix in 2007.

Int’l sales: Memento Films

Contact: sales@memento-films.com


Drive (US)

Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

The Competition is set for an octane boost from Refn’s $30m action thriller Drive. Produced by OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films, it was one of 2010’s hottest market films, and is the first time in the festival for Refn, best known for the Pusher trilogy and Bronson. Based on a novel by James Sallis and adapted by Hossein Amini, the story follows a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. Ryan Gosling stars with Carey Mulligan and Christina Hendricks. Producer Marc Platt has likened it to The French Connection. FilmDistrict will release in the US in the autumn.

Int’l sales: Sierra/Affinity

Contact: info@sierra-affinity.com


Melancholia (Den-Swe-Fr-It-Ger)

Dir: Lars von Trier

The Danish director makes his 11th appearance in Cannes with this “beautiful movie about the end of the world,” starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt. Trier’s past Cannes award winners include 1996’s Grand Prix winner Breaking The Waves, his 2000 Palme d’Or winner Dancer In The Dark and 2009’s controversial Antichrist. The $10m English-language Melancholia was produced by Meta Louise Foldager and Louise Vesth for Zentropa. TrustNordisk has pre-sold the film to more than 25 territories including North America (Magnolia), UK (Artificial Eye) and France (Les Films du Losange).

Int’l sales: TrustNordisk

Contact: info@trustnordisk.com


The Source (La Source Des Femmes) (Fr-Mor-Bel-It)

Dir: Radu Mihaileanu

Mihaileanu follows up his French hit The Concert with this comedy drama set in a Moroccan village where the women threaten to withhold sex from their partners if they do not fetch water from a far-away well. Produced by Elzévir Films and Oi Oi Oi Productions, the cast includes Leila Bekhti, Hafsia Herzi and Hiam Abbass.

Int’l sales: EuropaCorp (excluding Italy, Benelux and Morocco)

Contact: contact@europacorp.com


Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai (Jap)

Dir: Takashi Miike

Following his success with last year’s Venice competition title 13 Assassins, Miike returns to the samurai genre with this remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s classic, Harakiri, which scooped the Special Jury Prize in 1963. It is also the first 3D film in Cannes Competition. As with 13 Assassins, Hara-Kiri is produced by the UK’s Jeremy Thomas and Japan’s Toshiaki Nakazawa.

Int’l sales: HanWay Films

Contact: www.hanwayfilms.com


The Skin I Live In (Sp)

Dir: Pedro Almodovar

Loosely based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel Mygale, Almodovar’s latest tells the story of an eminent plastic surgeon who becomes obsessed with creating new skin. The horror-thriller reunites the Spanish auteur with his Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down star, Antonio Banderas. Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes and Fernando Cayo co-star. Almodovar won the best director prize at Cannes in 1999 for All About My Mother and best screenplay in 2006 for Volver. The Skin I Live In is his first film to screen at the festival before opening in Spain (Warner Bros Spain will open it in September). Sony Pictures Classics has US rights.

Int’l sales: FilmNation

Contact: www.wearefilmnation.com


Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Turk-Bos)

Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Ceylan’s fourth film to premiere in Competition at Cannes follows a doctor, played by Turkish writer, film-maker and actor Yilmaz Erdogan, working on the desolate Anatolian steppes. The film is produced by three Turkish companies — Ceylan’s NBC Film, Zeyno Film and Imaj Entertainment — along with Sarajevo-based production house 2006. Ceylan’s previous Cannes wins include the Grand Prix for Distant in 2003, the Fipresci prize for Climates in 2006 and best director for 2008’s Three Monkeys.

Int’l sales: Zeynofilm

Contact: www.zeynofilm.com


Michael (Aust-Fr)

Dir: Markus Schleinzer

First-time film-maker Schleinzer makes the jump from casting director — he cast fellow countryman Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon — to writer-director with this feature about the problematic relationship between a 10-year-old boy and 35-year-old man. It is the only German-language title in the Competition.

Int’l sales: Les Films Du Losange

Contact: a.valentin@filmsdulosange.fr


Le Havre (Fin-Fr-Ger)

Dir: Aki Kaurismaki

The previous film from Kaurismaki, Lights In The Dusk, screened in Competition at Cannes in 2006. The Finnish director returns to the section with this tale of a shoeshine who becomes involved with a refugee child. Set and shot in the titular French port town, Le Havre is the director’s second French-language film after 1992’s La Vie De Boheme, and stars André Wilms and Kati Outinen. It was produced by Kaurismaki’s Sputnik alongside Pyramide International and Pandora Film Produktion.

Int’l sales: The Match Factory

Contact: info@matchfactory.de


This Must Be The Place (It)

Dir: Paolo Sorrentino

Sean Penn stars as a former rock star in retirement in Dublin who hunts down the Nazi responsible for his father’s execution in Sorrentino’s fifth feature and English-language debut. It is a match made in Cannes heaven as Penn and Sorrentino first met when Penn presided over the jury which awarded Sorrentino’s Il Divo the Grand Jury Prize in 2008. No stranger to the Competition since screening his second feature, The Consequences Of Love, there in 2004, the director has been back with every film since.

Int’l sales: Pathé International

Contact: sales@patheinternational.com


House Of Tolerance (L’Apollonide) (Fr)

Dir: Bertrand Bonello

Returning to the Croisette for a second crack at the Palme d’Or following Tiresia in 2003, Bonello explores life in a Paris brothel at the beginning of the 20th century. The predominantly female cast is led by Noémie Lvovsky and Hafsia Herzi, who won a César for most promising actress for her performance in The Secret Of The Grain in 2008 (Herzi also appears in The Source). Long-time collaborator Kristina Larsen’s Les Films du Lendemain produced the film with Bonello’s production house My New Picture.

Int’l sales: Films Distribution

Contact: info@filmsdistribution.com


Pater (Fr)

Dir: Alain Cavalier

Experimental film-maker Cavalier, who turns 80 this year, continues to push boundaries with his latest work, featuring himself and actor Vincent Lindon in a series of vignettes, mixing fiction and reality and revolving around the theme of the return of the prodigal son. The film was shot over a year and without a crew. Cavalier won the Grand Jury Prize for Thérese in 1986. He returned in Un Certain Regard in 2005 with Le Filmeur. Michel Seydoux’s Camera One has produced Pater with backing from Arte Cinema France.

Int’l sales: Pathé International

Contact: sales@patheinternational.com


Poliss (Fr)

Dir: Maiwenn Le Besco

The third film from Maiwenn Le Besco — or simply Maiwenn as she prefers to be known — Poliss revolves around a child protection brigade, mixing the dramas of troubled youngsters with the everyday lives of the officers responsible for keeping them safe. Former child actress and ex-wife of Luc Besson, Maiwenn branched into film-making in 2006 with the much-praised Pardonnez-Moi. While her previous two films played with reality and fiction, Poliss is her first conventional drama. Produced by Les Productions du Trésor, the film is scheduled for an October release in France.

Int’l sales: Wild Bunch

Contact: www.wildbunch.biz


Footnote (Is)

Dir: Joseph Cedar

Veteran theatre actor Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi star in this drama about an ambitious young academic and his publicity-shy professor father and the simmering rivalry which threatens to boil over when they learn one of them is to win a prestigious prize. Cedar’s Beaufort won the best director prize at the Berlinale in 2007 and was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar.

Int’l sales: West End Films

Contact: info@westendfilms.com


Boy With A Bike (Bel-Fr-It)

Dirs: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne

Cannes perennials the Dardenne brothers are back in Competition for the fifth time with this hotly tipped drama about the relationship between a boy frantically searching for the father who abandoned him, and the young woman into whose arms he literally falls. Cecile de France and Thomas Doret star in the film which could become the Dardennes’ third Palme d’Or winner following Rosetta (1999) and The Child (2005). Diaphana will release in France.

Int’l sales: Wild Bunch

Contact: www.wildbunch.biz


The Artist (Fr)

Dir: Michel Hazanavicius

A long-time fan of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Hazanavicius’ intriguing new film The Artist is a black-and-white silent feature set against the backdrop of 1920s Hollywood. It follows a big, silent screen star and young unknown extra, whose fortunes are reversed by the rise of the talking film. The feature reunites Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who starred in Hazanavicius’ previous film OSS 117:Lost In Rio, alongside John Goodman and James Cromwell. Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine produced.

Int’l sales: Wild Bunch

Contact: www.wildbunch.biz