Cannes brings blend of big-budget and indie films
The 69th Cannes Film Festival opens this week and filmmakers Almodovar and the Dardenne Brothers, are among the returning directors.
Some of the most eagerly awaited films are premiering out of competition. Woody Allen will open the festival for a record third time with his period piece Café Society, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively.
Money Monster is a new hostage thriller directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, while Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (pictured right) is among the most eagerly-awaited big-budget films this year with Mark Rylance as the motion-captured Big Friendly Giant of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story.
Cannes showcases films from around the world and is also the perfect platform for big films attempting to find the balance between prestige and commercial success.
This year’s unusually starry Out of Competition selection are hoping to achieve just that. Spielberg will be aiming for levels of hype on the scale of Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, which went on to take nearly $860m around the world.
The competition selection - battling for the coveted Palme D’Or - is equally exciting this year. With no clear front-runner, this year’s jury, presided by Mad Max director George Miller, has its work cut out.
Pedro Almodovar, a festival favourite, is back with Julieta, adapted from an Alice Munro story, and in a similar tone to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The director’s 20th film might just win him his first Palme d’Or.
Another veteran of the Croisette is Nicolas Winding Refn, whose stylish 2011 crime drama Drive astounded audiences and critics alike. His latest, The Neon Demon (pictured below), is a sophisticated psycho-horror about cannibalistic models starring Elle Fanning. It promises Refn’s trademark outrageousness, as well as the potential of a comeback following his divisive 2013 effort Only God Forgives, booed by many at the festival that year.
Meanwhile, critics are eagerly awaiting not one but two Jim Jarmusch entries. Paterson stars Adam Driver as a bus driver-turned-poet while Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger will enjoy a prestigious Midnight Screening.
Director duo the Dardenne brothers are another reliable mainstay of the festival. After winning four prizes in previous years, they are returning with The Unknown Girl, a drama about a young doctor trying to find the identity of a woman who died after refusing surgery.
Olivier Assayas is premiering Personal Shopper, which marks his second collaboration with Kristen Stewart, and Ken Loach is back with I, Daniel Blake. Shot by Robbie Ryan, the film tells a social drama of the obstacles in the way of claiming welfare support in the UK.
After sharing the Jury prize with Jean-Luc Godard back in 2014 for Mommy, Xavier Dolan returns to Cannes with his most star-studded film to date. French-language It’s Only the End of the World stars Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, and looks at the complicated dynamics of an awkward family reunion.
British filmmaker Andrea Arnold is one of only three female directors in contention for the Palme d’Or. Her movie American Honey (pictured left) is a road movie starring Shia Lebouf and newcomer Sasha Lane - critics will be assessing how the piece combines Arnold’s tact for intimacy and social realism.
The presence of only a handful of female directors has perpetuated the sense of a pro-male bias, but it isn’t the only outcry against this year’s programme. Almodovar, Loach, Refn: the usual suspects are certainly back. So much so that festival chief Thierry Frémaux has felt the need to defend their presence in this year’s programme, denying claims that the festival favours the industry’s best-known directors over new talent.
This year’s new talent includes Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho and German director Maren Ade. Mendoça Filho’s Aquarius is a drama about a music critic battling a property developer and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann is the follow-up to her acclaimed 2009 marital drama Everyone Else.
Other notable films to premiere at Cannes this year are Laura Poitras’ Risk, a cyber-centered documentary focusing on Julian Assange and The Last Face, Sean Penn’s second film to premiere at Cannes following a 15-year hiatus. Park Chan Wook brings The Handmaid, which sees the South Korean director adapt Sarah Water’s Fingersmith, setting it in 1930s Japanese-ruled Korea.
As stars arrive this week at the seaside resort, this year’s big French gathering has a lot going for it and plenty of films looking to satisfy critics and the general viewing public alike.
BFG image: Disney