Last year, after the obligatory cancellation pause due to the COVID-19 crisis, we went into the Cannes Film Festival with more enthusiasm than ever in a unique edition. On the one hand, it was held in the middle of July, where summer, Riviera and films came together to offer a suggestive program in an unusual atmosphere. The necessary sanitary measures that forced the unvaccinated to undergo continuous tests and the clamorously lower influx of festival-goers from America and Asia will not be repeated, but the ticket reservation system will, despite the confusion of the first day, proved its organizational efficiency and is here to stay, as it has been implemented in a good number of festivals.
In 2022, between May 17 and 28, the Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary and will be the last of Pierre Lescure‘s presidency. The journalist and founder of Les éditions de Minuit, who came to the post in 2014 will be succeeded in the next three years by Iris Knobloch, the first woman to reach this position, and not without controversy. In her career, Knobloch has brought to Cannes films such as Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992), The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013) or Mad Max: Fury Road (Georges Miller, 2015). A trilingual lawyer, she has been a bridge between Hollywood and Europe, first through Warner, and since 2020 as CEO of WarnerMedia France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a position she left last summer to launch I2PO, the first European company specializing in acquisitions dedicated to entertainment. Whether or not this appointment will change the course of the legendary festival is the basis of the controversy over his candidacy, in terms of conflict of interest.
This year’s anniversary edition will also be no stranger to the context at a time when the war conflict, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is escalating in one way or another worldwide. One of the consequences for the festival has been the decision not to boycott the participation of Russian filmmakers, so Kirill Serebrennikov, based in Germany, now free to travel, will present Tchaikovsky’s Wife, which he could not do with his previous films, Leto and Petrov’s Flu, while in the Un certain regard section Butterfly Vision, the debut of Maksim Nakonechnyi, will be screened. On the other hand, the festival has accredited only Russian journalists who are in line with the event’s position on the conflict with Ukraine, rejecting any governmental representation or professionals linked to official media, although some complaints have been heard from those who, without belonging to any of the above categories, have been denied accreditation to a festival that gathers some 4,000 journalists from 75 countries.
Moreover, in an unprecedented decision, the war has gone so far as to change the title of the opening film, directed by Michel Hazanavicius. Originally called Z, this zombie comedy will be presented as Coupé and internationally as Final Cut. The director of The Artist (2011) has thus claimed to show his support for Ukraine and also not to want to associate the film in any way with the invasion, although paradoxically that is what he has done – it would not cross anyone’s mind that Costa-Gavras’ masterpiece of the same title had anything to do with Putin’s bellicose fury, unless he chose to change its title in a review. The image of the Z, which they assimilate with a symbol of hatred, installed in a prominent place like the Cannes Film Festival has been offensive to the invaded country and has led the Ukrainian Film Institute to declare that changing the title would be a gesture against the barbarism, violence and terror of the Russian army, to which the director has responded by regretting the unintentional affront and bowing to their request. In a few weeks we will see if the film is as much fun as announced by Hazanavicius, who already presented at the festival The Search (2014) and Le redoutable (2017). Final Cut is a remake of the Japanese film One Cut of the Dead, (Shin’ichirô Ueda, 2017) and stars Romain Duris and Berenice Bejo. The director ruled out premiering it at the Sundance Festival, because of the online format of the contest and reserved it for its premiere at Cannes, opening the competition out of competition.
The 75th Festival includes four female directors in the official section, after an edition in which women won the main prizes-, in a selection that includes Palme d’Or and Special Jury Prize laureates, Kore-eda Hirokazu (Shoplifters, 2018), Ruben Östlund (The Square, 2017), David Cronenberg (Crash, 1996) and contributions from countries such as Egypt, Iran, Korea or Costa Rica.
Entering the always controversial field of streaming platforms, it seems that the festival is considering opening in the future to admit them to competition, or at least that is the attitude of Thierry Frémaux, who in a recent interview with Variety said that he does not work for exhibitors, who consider Netflix competition, but for the Festival and what he seeks is to program good films wherever they come from and in this regard cited Andrew Dominik‘s Blonde, which the platform did not want to screen outside the official competition.
The Official Selection jury will be presided over by Vincent Lindon, whose performance in last year’s winner, Titane, is still awe-inspiring. Since 2009, when Isabelle Huppert had this honor, no French actor had ever been so honored, although it seems to be a tradition to make it coincide with major anniversaries. On the 40th, it was Yves Montand, on the 45th, Gérard Depardieu and on the 50th Isabelle Adjani. The partners of Lindon, who takes over from Spike Lee, are Rebecca Hall, Deepika Padukone, Noomi Rapace -present last year with Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson, 2021), Asghar Farhadi -exaequo winner of the Grand Prix in 2021 with the recently embroiled in controversy A Hero-, Ladj Ly -whose feature debut, Les Misérables, shared in 2019 the Grand Prix with Bacurau-, Jeff Nichols and Joaquim Trier -who in the previous edition won Renate Reinsve the Best Actress award for The Worst Person in the World.
The Festival, which until the last moment left us expectant about the possibility of including David Lynch in its program, in a rumor spread that was not confirmed -as well as the presentation of Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, which could have competed-, will submit the following films to the Official Selection jury: Ali Abbasi‘s Holy Spider, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi‘s Les amandiers; David Cronenberg, a Cannes veteran who has previously presented five films in competition, will premiere Crimes of the Future, starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Séydoux and Kristen Stewart. The teaser of the film that shares a title with the one he directed in 1970 has already left us impressed. Set in the near future, it will show us the metamorphosis of the organs of a performer and his partner, to plunge us into an inquiry into the possibilities of human evolution.
The Stars at Noon by Claire Denis is a political thriller; Frère et soeur by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne will take us into the drama of immigration; Lukas Dhont who impressed with Girl at Un certain regard in 2018, winning the FIPRESCI Prize, will jump to Official Selection with Close, where he will also compete with Armaggedon Time, an autobiographical coming of age by James Gray with Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong; Hirokazu Kore-eda continues to explore the family universe in a film about adoption, in Broker.
Pier Francesco Favino, winner of a Volpi Cup and a David de Donatello, stars in Mario Martone‘s Nostalgia, a contemporary drama by the director of Il giovane favoloso, centered on the character of Felice, who returns to Naples to care for his mother after living for over forty years in the Middle East. Cristian Mungiu could add to the awards obtained for 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Palme d’Or), The Examinations (Best Director exaequo with Olivier Assayas ) and Beyond the Hills (Best Screenplay) a new award with his R.M.N., a film about the return of an immigrant to his hometown, where he will face the distances with his own son and a transformed country. We already know that the film will be distributed in Spain by Bteam Pictures and Caramel Films.
Ruben Östlund, a specialist in social disruption and in showing the shame of a self-absorbed society, will premiere at Cannes Triangle of Sadness, a tragicomedy at sea, starring Woody Harrelson; while Park Chan-Wook‘s Decision to Leave introduces us to the mystery of a murder; on the other hand, Kelly Reichardt‘s comedy Showing Up is set in the art world -a very popular target for film satire- starring Michelle Williams; Saeed Roustaee‘s Leila’s Brothers, Tarik Saleh‘s Boy from Heaven), starring Margaret Qualley, Thaikovsky’s Wife (Kirill Serebrenikov) and EO (Jerzy Skolimowski), and Brother and Sister (Arnaud Desplechin).
The latest additions to the program were Léonor Serraille‘s Un petit frère, Albert Serra‘s Bora Bora, whose Liberté also premiered at the Festival in 2019, and Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix Van Groeningen‘s The Eight Mountains -an adaptation of Paolo Cognetti’s novel of the same name.
Festival de Cannes official poster © Paramount Pictures Corporation – Jim Carrey, The Truman Show de Peter Weir / Graphisme © Hartland Villa