Official Selection of the 76th Festival de Cannes: The Masters and a Newcomer

In Film & Series 9 May, 2023

Eva Peydró

Eva Peydró


Between 16 and 27 May, the 76th Festival de Cannes will offer a program with big names, some notable absences for reasons that are not strictly cinematographic, and also the opportunity to discover films and authors who will be talking about in the coming years. Seven women have been selected to premiere their works in the Official Competition Section, where 21 films will compete for a place on the list of winners to be chosen by the jury presided over by the double Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund.

This selection is full of great masters, including a debut film by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, with her film Banel e Adama. The director, who has experience as a screenwriter and director of a short film, Astel (2021), will show us the love story of a couple rejected by their environment in a remote village in Senegal. For her part, Austrian director Jessica Hausner returns to present a film in the Official Selection -after Little Joe (2019), which won Emily Beecham the award for Best Actress-, Club Zero, starring Mia Wasikowska, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Sam Hoare. The director will introduce us to an elite school where one of the teachers forms a close bond with a group of five students, and of course, with dangerous consequences.

Jonathan Glazer, who has left us films such as Sexy Beast (2000) -for which Ben Kingsley was nominated for an Oscar- or the surprising Under the Skin (2013), will arrive at Cannes with his latest film, The Zone of Interest, based on the novel of the same title by Martin Amis. The story is set in the vicinity of the Auschwitz extermination camp and stars Commandant Rudolf Höss and his family, happily established in the patriarch’s workplace. Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, 2016), Christian Friedel and Ralph Herforth star in the film.


Club Zero (Jessica Hausner, 2023).

Aki Kaurismäki, who won the Grand Prix at Cannes for The Man without a Past (2002), will present Fallen Leaves in the Official Selection. The film is an intimate story about two solitary people who meet one night in Helsinki by chance and wish to find their first love. Alma Pöysti – who played the creator of the mumins in Tove, 2020 – and Jussi Vatanen star in the latest film by the Finnish director, an admirer of Melville and Bresson. Moving down to Tunisia, we find Les filles d’Olfa, the film by Kaouther Ben Hania, Oscar nominee for The Man Who Sold His Skin (2020). The director, who presented Beauty and the Dogs at Un certain Regard in 2017, following her debut with Challat of Tunis (2014) in the ACID section of the French festival, has made a film that experiments with the disappearance of two of a Tunisian mother’s four daughters to explore violence, traditions, sisterhood and the foundations of a society.

The particular style of Wes Anderson, whose visual approach has become an unmistakable trademark, is always welcome at Cannes even if it is not always applauded by the highbrow critics. That was the case with his last presentation, The French Dispatch (2021), which mastered the aesthetic formula and a stellar cast with an unmistakably American interpretation of a series of clichés of Gallic civilisation. Asteroid City promises us a new incursion into the chromatic palettes, tableaux vivants and peculiar characters to which the Texan director has accustomed us, and how could he not? in collaboration with a cast with more stars than in the sky, including some of his regulars: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jefferey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Steve Park, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Jeff Goldblum, Fisher Stevens, Rita Wilson and a host of charming child actors. This time Anderson stays home to film “An American empirical film”.

La directora francesa Justine Triet, que presentó en Sección Oficial en 2019 la mediocre Sybill, con Virginie Efira, vuelve a competir con Anatomía de una caída, un thriller judicial sobre el supuesto asesinato de un hombre, por parte de su esposa y madre de un joven invidente. Haciendo doblete en la sección, protagoniza el filme la actriz alemana Sandra Hüller acompañada por Swann Arlaud. Uno de los nombres más ligados al Festival de Cannes es el de Hirokazu Kore-eda, cuya primera participación fue en Un certain regard, con Air Doll (2009) y que contará en la próxima edición con su sexta película en Sección oficial, habiendo ganado el Premio del Jurado con De tal padre, tal hijo (2013) y la Palma de oro con Un asunto de familia (2018), aparte de los dos del Jurado ecuménico para la primera y para Broker (2022). En su catálogo de familias y peculiares relaciones con mayor o menor calado, el director japonés nos propone en la 76ª edición del Festival de Cannes la película Kaibutso (Monstruo), un inquietante relato sobre el extraño comportamiento de un niño y la responsabilidad de su profesor. Al parecer, se trata de una historia con tres puntos de vista donde se irá desvelando paulatinamente la verdad. Con guion de Yuji Sakamoto y música del recientemente fallecido Ryuichi Sakamoto, Monstruo promete una intensa dosis de lo mejor de su director.

French director Justine Triet, who presented the mediocre Sybil with Virginie Efira in the Official Selection in 2019, returns to the competition with Anatomy of a Fall, a judicial thriller about the alleged murder of a man by his wife and mother of a young blind man. Playing a double bill in the section, the film stars German actress Sandra Hüller, accompanied by Swann Arlaud. One of the names most closely linked to the Cannes Festival is Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose first participation was in Un certain regard, with Air Doll (2009) and who will be making his sixth film in the Official Selection at the next edition, having won the Jury Prize with Like Father, Like Son (2013) and the Palme d’Or with Shoplifters (2018), in addition to the two Ecumenical Jury prizes for the first and for Broker (2022). In his catalogue of families and peculiar relationships with greater or lesser depth, the Japanese director offers us at the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival the film Kaibutso (Monster), a disturbing tale about the strange behaviour of a child and the responsibility of his teacher. It seems to be a story with three points of view in which the truth will gradually unveil itself. With a script by Yuji Sakamoto and music by the recently deceased Ryuichi Sakamoto, Monster promises an intense dose of the director’s best.


Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismaki, 2023).

Nani Moretti‘s most recent film at Cannes didn’t exactly leave us with a good aftertaste. The excessive length and lack of inspiration of Tre piani (2021) will hopefully be a minor blip and Il sol dell’avenire will convince us more. With a plot that brings together two themes dear to the Italian director: cinema and reflection on communism, his new film, in which he himself stars, once again features the magnificent Margherita Buy to tell the story of a film director with family and professional problems, when he makes a film about the impact on the PCI of the invasion of Hungary by the USSR in 1956. The cast of The Sun of the Future is completed by Silvio Orlando, Barbara Bobulova and Mathieu Amalric.

Como siempre, envuelta en polémicas, Catherine Breillat vuelve a la Croisette, tras su participación en Sección oficial en 2007 con Una vieja amante. Su último filme, L’été dernier, protagonizado por Léa Drucker, Olivier Rabourdin y Clotilde Courau describe la relación apasionada que una brillante abogada mantiene con su hijastro. Por su parte, el director turco Nuri Bilge Ceylan, ganador de la Palma de oro en 2014 con Winter Sleep, sumará este año su tercera participación en Sección oficial con Kuru Otlar Üstüne, una película que esperamos con enorme interés. En ella se vuelve a poner en relieve la vida en los márgenes, en las comunidades aisladas, poniendo a prueba la resiliencia y la capacidad de adaptación. Samet, un joven maestro que cumple servicio obligatorio en un pequeño pueblo ansía volver a Estambul, pero la vida llena de dificultades, sumadas a las dinámicas de la sociedad local, parece no poder acabar tan pronto como él desearía.

As always, Catherine Breillat returns to the Croisette in the midst of controversy, following her participation in the Official Selection in 2007 with The Last Mistress. Her latest film, L’été dernier, starring Léa Drucker, Olivier Rabourdin and Clotilde Courau, describes the passionate relationship between a brilliant lawyer and her stepson. For his part, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of the Palme d’Or in 2014 with Winter Sleep, will be participating in the Official Selection for the third time this year with Kuru Otlar Üstüne, a film that we await with great interest. The film once again highlights life on the margins, in isolated communities, testing resilience and the ability to adapt. Samet, a young teacher on compulsory service in a small village longs to return to Istanbul, but life’s hardships, coupled with the dynamics of local society, cannot seem to end as soon as he would like.


La chimera (Alice Rohrwacher, 2023).

Una de las directoras más interesantes y comprometidas, Alice Rohrwacher, también vuelve a la Croisette con nueva película. La toscana presentó Cuerpo celeste en 2011 y en 2014 ganó el Gran premio del jurado con El país de las maravillas. En 2018 obtuvo el galardón al mejor guion por Lazzaro feliz  y en 2021 compitió al Golden Eye con Futura, el documental codirigido con Pietro Marcello y Francesco Munzi. Tras ser nominada al Oscar en 2023 por Le pupille, el corto codirigido con Alfonso Cuarón, Rohrwacher estrenará en Sección oficial la película La chimera, con una trama ambientada en el mercado negro de la arqueología, interpretada por Josh O’Connor, Isabella Rossellini y Alice Rohrwacher. Hélène Louvart (La hija oscura) está a cargo de la dirección de fotografía. Asia estará también presente en el certamen a través del director vietnamita Tran Anh Hùng, ganador del premio Caméra d’or en 1993 con El olor de la papaya verde y cuya última película en Cannes fue Pleno verano en 2010. El director de Tokyo Blues proyectará el filme La passion de Dodin Bouffant, con un reparto francés formado por Juliette Binoche, Benoît Magimel y Pierre Gagnaire, que relata la historia de Eugenie, una eminente cocinera, y Dodin, el gourmet para el que ha trabajado más de veinte años.

One of the most interesting and committed directors, Alice Rohrwacher, also returns to the Croisette with a new film. The Tuscan presented Corpo celeste in 2011 and in 2014 she won the Grand Jury Prize for Wonderland. In 2018 she won Best Screenplay for Happy as Lazzaro and in 2021 she competed for the Golden Eye with Futura, the documentary co-directed with Pietro Marcello and Francesco Munzi. After being nominated for an Oscar in 2023 for Le pupille, the short film co-directed with Alfonso Cuarón, Rohrwacher will premiere in the Official Selection the film La chimera, with a plot set in the black market of archaeology, starring Josh O’Connor, Isabella Rossellini and Alba Rohrwacher. Hélène Louvart (The Dark Daughter) is in charge of the cinematography. Asia will also be present at the event with Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hùng, winner of the Caméra d’Or in 1993 with The Scent of Green Papaya, whose last film at Cannes was The Vertical Ray of the Sun in 2010. The director of Tokyo Blues will screen the film La passion de Dodin Bouffant, with a French cast including Juliette Binoche, Benoît Magimel and Pierre Gagnaire, which tells the story of Eugenie, an eminent cook, and Dodin, the gourmet for whom she has worked for more than twenty years.

Marco Bellocchio, winner of the Palme d’honneur in 2021 and director of one of the best works premiered at the 75th edition, the series Esterno notte, will present the film Il rapito, co-written with Susanna Ricchiarelli, in his eighth participation in the Official Selection. The film, which will be released in Italy on 26 May and stars Barbara Ronchi and Fabrizio Gifuni, deals with those controversial issues on which Bellocchio does not hesitate to take a stand. A fierce left-wing fighter and defender of fundamental rights, the director of The Traitor (2019) will illustrate a historical event in his dry style, not exempt from a fine wit, freely inspired by the book Il caso Mortara by Daniele Scalise: In 1858, a Jewish family in Bologna sees their son being taken away by the papal police and the Holy Inquisition, because he has been secretly baptised by the maid. The Church claims him, in accordance with the laws of the time, to educate him in its custody. The appointed guardian was Pope Pius IX himself, who raised him as an adopted son.


Il rapito (Marco Bellocchio, 2023).

Another committed veteran, Ken Loach, arrives on his seventeenth visit to Cannes, possibly a record for the festival since he took home the FIPRESCI prize in 1979 with his first, presenting Black Jack. This time, again with a screenplay by his regular collaborator Paul Laverty, the British director will premiere The Old Oak, a story that puts the underprivileged at the center, once again, this time Syrian refugees settled in a mining town in the north-east of Great Britain. The title of the film is the name of the pub, a meeting point for the locals and also a place of conflict when it comes to living with immigrants.

Youth (Spring) by Chinese director Wang Bing, the third Asian film, also shares the same social concern and criticism. His film tells the story of a group of young people who have left the province of Yunnan to emigrate to Shanghai, 2,500 km away from home, where they live to work, sleep in unhealthy rooms or even in their own workplace. Their social relations suffer from the new slavery to which they are subjected, as they spend their best years. In a very different tone, Californian Todd Haynes returns to Julianne Moore to star in May December, a melodrama in which she shares the screen with Natalie Portman, who plays an actress who investigates Moore’s life in order to take it into film, since her affair with a man 23 years younger was a social scandal at the time.


Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, 2023).

For Wim Wenders, who has won the Palme d’Or, the Grand Jury Prize, the Best Director Award, the FIPRESCI, and more, this year will be his fourteenth participation, with the film Perfect Days, shot in Japan. The main character is Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho), a janitor whose quiet and structured life, as well as his cultural hobbies, hide a past that we discover throughout the film. On the other hand, Firebrand, the first film made in English by Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz, who captivated us with The Invisible Life of Eurydice Gusmão, will be his fourth participation at the Cannes Film Festival. This time he brings us a period drama starring Jude Law and Alicia Vikander as Henry VIII and Catherine Parr. With a screenplay by Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth (Killing Eve), the film, which will be released in Spain in December, is a tragedy of psychological terror at the court of the Tudor king, told from the point of view of the monarch’s only wife who avoided a fatal fate.

The two latest additions to the Official Selection are two French films: Black Flies by director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and Le retour by Catherine Corsini. The former participated in Un certain regard in 2008 with Johnny Mad Dog, about child soldiers in Liberia. His new film, which stars Sean Penn, Tye Sheridan, Katherine Waterston, Michael Pitt and Mike Tyson, and is based on the novel by Shannon Burke, follows the adventures of a young paramedic in an emergency ambulance in New York during his first year of service, accompanied by a fellow veteran, as he prepares to enter medical school. Corsini’s film, which is coming to the Cannes Film Festival for the fourth time —he won the Queer Palm in 2021 with The Fracture— stars Virginie Ledoyen and Denis Podalydès. Le retour tells the story of Kheìdidja, a woman in her forties who works for a wealthy Parisian family, whom she accompanies on their summer holidays in Corsica. The trip, fifteen years later, will be a return to her roots, a family reunion and also a confrontation with her past.

With this impeccable selection, we will have no shortage of reasons to enjoy another year of cinema and the cannois atmosphere, debates and discussions over coffee will continue to brighten up the few free moments between screenings, and there will always be room for disappointment. The still recent pandemic, whose emergency has just been declared over, has given us the desire to return to the classics, many of us find comfort in recovering old films that have never let us down, and the Official Selection of the 76th Festival de Cannes can have this effect of security and commitment to the great masters, by rediscovering safe values. A debutante among directors of masterpieces is a minor but equally welcome bet.

 More about Festival de Cannes:  All Set for the 76th Festival de Cannes.

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Marco BellocchioWim WendersNani MorettiAki KaurismakiJude LawKleber Mendonça FilhoKore-edaMargherita Buy

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