On the eve of the 71st Cannes Film Festival (May 8-19), Screen has selected a few of the stand-out titles from the Competition, Out of Competition, Un Certain Regard, Special Screenings, Directors’ Fortnight and Critic’s Week sections.
Cold War (Pol-Fr-UK) - dir. Pawel Pawlikowski
Pawlikowski’s follow-up to the Oscar and Bafta-winning Ida (2015) is a Cold War-era love story set in Eastern Europe. The cast includes Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig, alongside Ida’s Agata Kulesza, with Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki and Piotr Bordowski co-writing the Polish/French script. Backers include Film4, BFI, Protagonist Pictures and the Polish Film Institute. Pawlikowski’s longtime partners Tanya Seghatchian (Apocalypso Pictures) and Ewa Puszczynska (Opus Film) produce along with MK Productions. Amazon Studios and Curzon respectively have North American and UK rights.
Contact: mk2 Films; Protagonist Pictures
Girls Of The Sun (Fr) - dir. Eva Husson
Three years after her debut feature Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) premiered in Toronto’s Platform section, writer-director Husson brings her sophomore feature to Cannes. Golshifteh Farahani stars as the leader of a real-life Kurdish female battalion that set out to liberate their town after it had been overrun by Isis extremists. Emmanuelle Bercot co-stars as a journalist embedded with the fighters. Lead producer Didar Domehri of France’s Maneki Films/Full House won the Arte International Prize, given to the producer of the best CineMart project, for Santiago Mitre’s The Summit at Cannes 2017.
Contact: Elle Driver
Knife + Heart (Fr) - dir. Yann Gonzalez
France’s Gonzalez makes his Competition debut with his second feature following 2013 Critics’ Week entry You And The Night. Vanessa Paradis stars in a late-1970s-set story about a Parisian TV executive seeking to restore her credibility with a more creatively ambitious production, which is disrupted when the cast is targeted by a serial killer. Charles Gillibert’s CG Cinema (France) produces in co-production with Julio Chavezmontes’s Piano (Mexico) and Consuelo Frauenfelder’s Garidi Films (Switzerland), while Memento Films distributes in France.
BlacKkKlansman (US) - dir. Spike Lee
The arch provocateur returns to Competition for the first time since Jungle Fever played the Croisette in 1991. Lee’s latest is inspired by the true story of Ron Stallworth, an undercover African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington and Adam Driver star, and BlacKkKlansman is produced by the team behind Get Out, among them Jordan Peele and Jason Blum. Focus Features will release in the US on August 10 shortly before the first anniversary of the race-related violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Universal handles international distribution.
Contact: Universal Pictures International
Under The Silver Lake (US) - dir. David Robert Mitchell
Mitchell has an enviable three-for-three record with Cannes, after his first two films The Myth Of The American Sleepover and cult hit It Follows both premiered in Critics’ Week. Under The Silver Lake marks a step up to Competition. Andrew Garfield stars in the trippy crime tale as a curious mind who investigates missing persons from his neighbourhood. Riley Keough and Topher Grace also star. A24 acquired US rights in Cannes 2016 and will release on June 22.
Contact: IMR (Insiders MadRiver)
Burning (S Kor) - dir. Lee Chang-dong
Director Lee was last in Competition with 2010 best screenplay winner Poetry. His Secret Sunshine won the best actress award for Jeon Do-yeon in 2007. Co-written by Lee and Oh Jung-mi, Burning is based on Haruki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning, which was first published in The New Yorker magazine. Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Okja) plays a well-to-do man with a secret hobby, Yoo Ah-in (Veteran) plays a part-time deliveryman hoping to be a novelist and newcomer Jeon Jong-seo plays the woman who comes between them. The film is produced by Pine House Film, NHK and Now Film Co.
Happy As Lazzaro (It-Ger-Fr-Swi) - dir. Alice Rohrwacher
For her first feature since 2014’s The Wonders, Italian writer/director Rohrwacher returns to the countryside of her homeland for the tale of a man living on the margins of society who can travel through time. The cast of Happy As Lazzaro (original Italian title Lazzaro Felice) includes Sergi Lopez (Pan’s Labyrinth) and Nicoletta Braschi (Life Is Beautiful). The film has been supported by Eurimages, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and France’s CNC, among others.
Contact: The Match Factory
Un Certain Regard
Sextape (Fr) - dir. Antoine Desrosieres
After two early features — 1993 debut A La Belle Etoile starring Julie Gayet and Banqueroute in 2000 — Desrosieres’ third film follows two Muslim sisters (Inas Chanti and Souad Arsane, in the same roles they played for the director’s 2014 medium-length Haramiste) who find themselves caught up in a sex-tape scandal. The film comedy shot in Strasbourg with support from the Alsace regional fund. Annabelle Bouzom produced, and Rezo Films will release in France in June.
Contact: Films Boutique
Angel Face (Fr) - dir. Vanessa Filho
The feature debut of multidisciplinary artist Filho stars Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as an alcoholic mother who abandons her eight-year-old daughter after she meets a man in a club. It is produced by Carole Lambert for Windy Production and Marc Missonnier of Moana Films along with France’s Mars Films, which will handle French distribution.
Rafiki (Ken-SA-Fr-Neth-Ger-Nor) - dir. Wanuri Kahiu
Based on Monica Arac de Nyeko’s award-winning Ugandan short story Jambula Tree, Rafiki is the coming-of-age tale of two young women from the same Nairobi estate, who meet and then fall in love. The film is produced by Steven Markovitz of South Africa’s Big World Pictures, with financing from myriad sources including the Institut Francais, CNC, Netherlands Film Fund, Hubert Bals Fund and the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund. It is Kahiu’s second feature following From A Whisper in 2009.
Contact: MPM Premium
Girl (Bel) - dir. Lukas Dhont
Dhont’s debut feature tells the story of a teenage girl born in a boy’s body who will do anything she can to achieve her dream of becoming a ballerina. The filmmakers were inspired by a real story from a ballet school in Antwerp. It is produced by Dirk Impens (The Broken Circle Breakdown) and co-written by Dhont and fellow feature debutant Angelo Tijssens. The project picked up work-in-progress prizes at France’s Les Arcs European Film Festival and at Belgium’s CONNeXT industry event in 2017.
Contact: The Match Factory
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (China) - dir. Bi Gan
Tang Wei, Sylvia Chang and Chen Yongzhong head the cast of this film noir, which revolves around a man who returns to his hometown of Guizhou after a long absence. There he discovers traces of a mysterious woman with whom he spent the summer two decades ago. Bi’s second feature marks his Cannes bow, following acclaimed 2015 debut Kaili Blues, which won the best emerging director prize at Locarno and best new director at the Golden Horse Awards.
Contact: Wild Bunch
Out Of Competition/Special Screening
The House that Jack Built (Den) - dir. Lars von Trier
Famed controversialist von Trier returns to the Croisette seven years after being declared “persona non grata” by the festival when his Melancholia competed in 2011. The Danish director’s new film follows a serial killer (Matt Dillon) over the course of 12 years. Riley Keough, Uma Thurman, Bruno Ganz and Ed Speleers also star. Louise Vesth produces for Zentropa Entertainment in co-production with partners including Film I Vast, Copenhagen Film Fund and Slot Machine.
Arctic (Ice-US) - dir. Joe Penna
Mads Mikkelsen stars in the tale of a man stranded in the Arctic who, after a near-rescue, must decide whether to stay in the relative safety of his camp or venture into the sub-zero tundra in search of salvation. Production took place in Iceland in spring 2017 and the producers are Armory Films, Union Entertainment Group and Pegasus Pictures.
International contact: XYZ Films; North America contacts: XYZ Films; CAA; UTA
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (UK-Sp-Fr-Port-Bel) - dir. Terry Gilliam
The epic quest to bring this Cervantes-inspired tale to the screen, which famously included an abandoned 2000 shoot starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort, is finally over. The film stars Adam Driver as an advertising director shooting in rural Spain, where he encounters a man (Jonathan Pryce) claiming to be 17th-century nobleman Don Quixote. Amy Gilliam produces with Kinology’s Grégoire Melin, Entre Chien Et Loup’s Sébastien Delloye and Tornasol’s Gerardo Herrero and Mariela Besievsky, with Ukbar Films a further co-producer. Amazon Studios has North American and UK rights. Océan opens in France on May 19.
Climax (Fr-Bel) - dir. Gaspar Noé
After three successive Competition slots, French provocateur Noé surfaces in Directors’ Fortnight with his latest, Climax, which was previously titled Psyché. Rumours suggested the film, which may or may not be a documentary, was shot in just two weeks, and focused on an urban dance troupe that embarks on a kind of Dionysian frenzy in an abandoned school. However Vincent Maraval of sales company and co-producer Wild Bunch warns that these reports are “wrong… but we don’t want to disclose any more, to keep the film fresh for the audience for once”.
Contact: Wild Bunch
Treat Me Like Fire (Fr) - dir. Marie Monge
This first feature from French director Monge stars Tahar Rahim and Stacy Martin as a couple who develop a dangerous addiction to Paris’s underground gambling clubs. Monge’s 40-minute 2012 short Marseille By Night reaped prizes and plaudits, and her career trajectory shows no signs of dipping with Treat Me Like Fire (Joueurs), which was circled by several sales companies — Playtime partner Nicolas Brigaud-Robert admits he had “quite a battle to get it”.
Birds of Passage (Col-Fr-Mex-Neth) - dirs. Ciro Guerra, Cristina Gallego
Guerra came to attention with 2015 Directors’ Fortnight breakout Embrace Of The Serpent and this time co-directs with that film’s producer, Gallego. Birds Of Passage is a drama about the origins of the illegal drug trade in Colombia in the 1970s, and is also a family story set within an indigenous community. Gallego also produces the film through her Ciudad Lunar outfit with Katrin Pors and Carlos Garcia’s Blond Indian Films.
Contact: Films Boutique
Sir (Ind-Fr) - dir. Rohena Gera
The first fiction feature from Gera follows her well-received documentary about marriage in modern India, What’s Love Got To Do With It?. Indian indie stalwart Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) stars in the Mumbai-set film that explores romance across class. Shome plays Ratna, the maid to Ashwin (Vivek Gomber), a middle-class man left reeling after his wedding is cancelled. The pair develop feelings that are at odds with their social stations.
Contact: mk2 Films
Woman at War (Ice-Fr-Ukr) - dir. Benedikt Erlingsson
Halla leads a double life as a mysterious environmental activist, known only as ‘The Woman of the Mountain’. Her target is the aluminium industry, and her actions escalate from mischief to full-scale industrial sabotage in order to thwart the new smelting plant scheduled to be built in the Icelandic Highlands. This is the second feature from Erlingsson following 2013’s Of Horses And Men, which won a multitude of awards and six Icelandic Oscars.
Contact: Beta Cinema