Thierry Frémaux

Source: © Jean-louis Hupe - Festival de Cannes

Thierry Frémaux

Cannes Film Festival is continuing its push to marry auteur cinema with films with commercial potential with its 2024 selection, announced by general delegate Thierry Fremaux during the event’s annual press conference in Paris today (April 11).

After last year’s Palme d’Or-winner Anatomy Of A Fall went on to win at the Oscars, Baftas and Cesar awards as well as earning upwards of $35m at the global box office to date, all eyes are on this year’s 77th event to find the next arthouse titles with breakout potential for critics and audiences.

Iris Knobloch, the festival’s president now in her second year in the role, who sat by Fremaux’s side during the conference, said: “This year, the festival has confirmed our unique capacity to find the best films,” thanking Fremaux and adding of the titles, “We fly them to the moon.”

Knobloch pointed out the “very beautiful” success in cinemas for many titles from last year’s lineup, and noted the high bar it had set for this year’s selection.

“[2023] was an exceptional year, an exceptional vintage – a festival of all the records,” said the president, “proving the Cassandras wrong who were viewing the decline of the cinemas facing the rise of the streaming platforms.”  

She added that while platforms were a great way to reach wider audiences and extend a film’s life, “the magic of the wide screen is intact. More than ever, cinemas are where the films meets their history – this is where a film is making its legend.”

She also zoomed in on this year’s jury president Greta Gerwig – the Barbie filmmaker who shaped her career in the US independent filmmaking scene “perfectly epitomises the soul of the Cannes Film Festival”, said Knobloch.

Iris Knobloch

Source: WarnerMedia

Iris Knobloch

“Like the festival, she has a profound love of film and its history. She likes to reinvent the codes. Like us, she embraces all genres and addresses all audiences from the independent scene to Hollywood.”

The 2024 official selection echoed this approach, with Cannes’ programming team viewing around 2,000 films according to Fremaux. While the festival has always screened more commercial fare out of Competition, the 2024 lineup is a blend of genres with seemingly more commercial potential.

They include comedies such as Laetitia Dosch’s Who Let The Dog Bite? in Un Certain Regard, a musical in Jacques Audiard’s Emilia Perez, genre titles like Coralie Fargeat’s body horror The Substance, plus Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice about a young Donald Trump, sure to be a conversational lightning rod ahead of the US presidential election in November.

Among the festival’s selection are several bigger budget and star-powered titles also anticipated by local exhibitors to be box-office successes like Gilles Lellouche’s epic romance Beating Hearts in Competition, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds Of Kindness and festival opener Quentin Dupieux’s The Second Act.

With the 148-day writers’ strike and 118-day SAG-AFTRA strikes in Hollywood delaying production – “of course a complete stop of several months impacts the Festival de Cannes,” said Fremaux – he confirmed a healthy showing for American cinema at least in terms of high-profile filmmakers. Already revealed were Kevin Costner western Horizon, An American Saga out of Competition and Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis in Competiton, while further US productions confirmed today include Sean Baker’s Anora and Paul Schrader’s Oh Canada, both in Competition.

George Lucas will receive an honorary Palme d’Or, and Fremaux also announced that Sony’s Colombia Pictures would be celebrating its 100th anniversary at the festival.

And, he added: “We have more”, revealing that around a dozen further titles will be announced in the coming weeks. “At midnight last night, our eyes were burning and decisions were being made by fuzzy brains,” said Fremaux of the incomplete lineup announcement today, although he described the selection as already “copious and wonderful”.

The festival’s signature red carpet looks set to be graced by the usual starry lineup of talent including Costner, Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldana, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Cassel, Demi Moore and Emma Stone, plus acclaimed auteurs like Audiard, David Cronenberg, George Miller, Leos Carax and Christophe Honore.

Despite embracing more commercial fare in its Competition and across sidebars and amidst a robust US presence, Fremaux pointed out that “Cannes continues to be undiscovered territory where we pose new names on the map.”

Knobloch said that in her first year on the job, what struck her was that from first-time filmmakers like Ramata Toulaye-Sy to Martin Scorsese, they both had “the same excitement, the same emotion that is the magic of the Cannes Film Festival… It is an eternal first time.”