Cannes 2011: our guide to the competing films
We examine the 19 films vying to win Cannes’s Palme d’Or next month
Fremaux also announced the films which will play as special screenings at the festival or in the event’s second competitive section, Un Certain Regard. Of the out-of-competition crowd-pullers, he confirmed that ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ and Jodie Foster’s ‘The Beaver’ will both screen, while Un Certain Regard will include new films from Gus van Sant (‘Restless’), Bruno Dumont (‘Hors Satan’) and Hong Sang-Soo (‘The Day He Arrives’).
But all eyes will be on the big prize, the Palme d’Or, and here we run through the runners and riders which will be in contention for the festival’s main gongs when the awards ceremony comes round on May 22.
Pedro Almodóvar, ‘The Skin I Live In’A Cannes favourite, Spain’s Almodóvar reunites with actor Antonio Banderas for his latest film, an adaptation of a novel about a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter. This is the first time that Almodóvar will unveil a new film at Cannes before its release at home in Spain. The Spanish master was last on the Croisette with ‘Broken Embraces’ and Penélope Cruz in 2009.
Bertrand Bonello, ‘L’Apollonide ’The young French director responsible for such films as ‘The Pornographer’ (2001) and ‘Tiresia’ (2003) returns with a story about a twentieth-century Parisian brothel which stars a host of (no doubt) lithe European actresses. Purported to be about the ‘lives, rivalries, fears, joys and pains’ os the girls' experiences day-to-day, could Bonello’s film be this year’s answer to Mathieu Amalric’s jocular cabaret road movie, ‘On Tour’? Or maybe something a little more meaty?
Alain Cavalier ‘Pater’An elder statesman of French cinema known primarily in the UK for thoughtful dramas such as 1962’s ‘Le Combat dans l’Île’ and 1986’s ‘Thérèse’, details are sparse on what this new film will be about. It stars Vincent Lindon, and Cannes boss Thierry Frémeaux assures us that it’s ‘very bizarre’ and ‘extremely inventive’. Cavalier's work has not travelled extensively outside of France, so this feels like very much a treat for the home crowd.
Joseph Cedar, ‘Footnote’At the press conference to launch Cannes, festival artistic director Thierry Frémaux described this new film from 42-year-old Israeli director Cedar as a ‘comedy’ and an indication that the Cannes line-up this year wouldn’t be too sombre. Cedar is best known for ‘Beaufort’, a 2007 film about life in the Israeli army in the late 1990s.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’Fifty-one-year-old Turkish director Ceylan previously won prizes at Cannes for ‘Three Monkeys’ (2008) and ‘Uzak’ (2002). He’s known for startling imagery and poetic but wry storytelling. Does the title of this new film suggest he’s made a Turkish western? One suspects not – but do expect Ceylan to be a frontrunner for the Palme d’Or.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, ‘The Kid with a Bike’Something of a kindred spirit with our own Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers from Belgium have twice before won the Palme d’Or with ‘Rosetta’ (1999) and ‘The Child (2005), and they picked up a best screenplay prize for their last film, ‘The Silence of Lorna’ (2008). Their compassionate, realist films are always set in the poorer, nether regions of Belgium, and this new work stars Belgian actress Cécile de France and tells of a young boy let down by family and social care.
Aki Kaurismäki, ‘Le Havre’This new work by deadpan Finnish maverick Kaurismäki, his long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s ‘Lights In the Dusk’, is the story of a shoeshiner who tries to save an immigrant child in the French port city of Le Havre. Ardent fans of the director will also be pleased to hear that his brilliant, regular leading lady, Kati Outinen, is one of the stars along with prolific French oddball character actor (and sometime director), Jean-Pierre Darroussin.
Naomi Kawase, ‘Hanezu No Tsuki’In 2007, chairman of the Cannes jury Stephen Frears nudged Japanese director Kawase in the limelight by awarding her tepidly received ‘The Mourning Forest’ the Grand Prix. Moving between documentary and fiction, she followed it up with ‘Genpin’, a heartbreaking chronicle of an old-fashioned antenatal centre based in the Japanese countryside. This latest looks to be her most ambitious yet, as it takes place in the Asuka period (around AD500), which is widely considered a period of great social, political and artistic mobility. Japanese cinema hasn’t fared too well in the Cannes competition in recent years, with Takeshi Kitano's gangster epic 'Outrage' deemed one of the competition’s nadirs of last year's competition.
Julia Leigh, ‘Sleeping Beauty’An entirely unknown quantity, as Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker Leigh makes her filmmaking debut with a reportedly racy reimagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale. Emily Browning (‘Sucker Punch’) plays Lucy, a struggling student who allows herself to be drawn into prostitution, is willingly drugged and forgets everything that happened to her. The screenplay made the 2008 list of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays, so there’s got to be more to it than this seedy-sounding set-up.
Terrence Malick, ‘The Tree of Life’The obvious frontrunner in this year’s Palme d’Or competition is Malick’s long-awaited return to the screen with this mysterious, visually captivating 1950s-set drama. His ‘Days of Heaven’ may have taken the best director prize in 1979, but Malick has never won the big award. Of course, Cannes juries are well known for their wilfully perverse refusal to follow expected patterns, so even if the film is as amazing as we hope and pray it will be, there’s a good chance it’ll lose to some obscurist first-timer with a handicam.
Maïwenn Le Besco, ‘Polisse’This third directorial project from the actress who often prefers to be known as simply ‘Maïwenn’ sees her star as a journalist who falls in with a squad of policeman and love blossoms amid the violence. Alongside Australian unknown quantity Julia Leigh and British great-white-hope Lynne Ramsay, she’s one of four female directors in this year’s competition.
Takashi Miike, ‘Harakiri’Following the success of his astonishing samurai epic ‘13 Assassins’, Japanese filmmaker Miike returns to the time of the Shogun for a remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s beloved 1962 tale of swords and seppuku, ‘Harakiri’. It’s the tale of a warrior seeking revenge on the warlords who forced his son to commit ritual suicide, so expect Miike’s 3D version to feature plenty of lopped limbs, severed arteries and dizzyingly inventive, eye-popping action set pieces.
Radu Mihaileanu, ‘The Source’ (‘La Source des Femmes’)His last film, ‘The Concert', left many viewers cold, so let's hope for a better reception for Romanian-born, France-based director Mihaileanu’s latest, ‘The Source’. This lighthearted comedy-drama takes place in a small village where the women band together to deny sex to their men until they agree to fetch water from a distant well. There’s no mention of ‘The Source’ being a remake, but are we the first to notice that this storyline formed the basis of 2008’s very enjoyable Turkish comedy ‘Absurdistan’?
Nanni Moretti, ‘We Have a Pope’Fifty-seven-year-old Italian director Moretti was last in Cannes with ‘The Caiman’ in 2006 and won the Palme d’Or for ‘The Son’s Room’. Here, Moretti himself plays therapist to a new pope played Michel Piccoli. Lèse majesté! Expect a far from reverent approach to the papacy and a mix of gentle ribbing and smart insights into the nature and failings of power.
Lynne Ramsay, ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’Scottish filmmaker Ramsay, acclaimed for ‘Ratcatcher’ (1999) and ‘Morvern Callar’ (2002), disappeared off the map after her planned adaptation of ‘Lovely Bones’ ended up in the hands of Peter Jackson. Now she’s back with this adaptation of the celebrated novel by Lionel Shriver, starring Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly. We’ve got our fingers crossed that this marks a triumphant return. Everything we hear suggests nothing less.
Paolo Sorrentino, ‘This Must Be the Place’An Italian stylist who gives even Federico Fellini a run for his camera-swishing money, Sorrentino’s latest looks to be his most wilfully out-there yet (and this from a man who made ‘Il Divo’, an enigmatic, collage-like biopic of Italian politician Giulio Andreotti). It stars Sean Penn as a rock ‘n’ roll Nazi hunter out to get the men who killed his papa, and from the images we’ve seen, he sports a black fright-wig and is caked in eyeliner. Last week, Italian maestro Bernardo Bertolucci commented on a rough cut of the film that he’d seen, cryptically describing it as ‘quite something’.
Markus Schleinzer, ‘Michael’Former casting director, part-time actor and full-time Austrian Markus Schleinzer is a complete enigma, with very little information online about him or his debut feature, ‘Michael’. All we know is that he was the casting director on Shirin Neshat's ‘Women Without Men’, Jessica Hausner’s ‘Lourdes’ and Michael Haneke’s ‘The White Ribbon’. But as the most mysterious man in the competition, we think he's probably a shoo-in to take the Palme d'Or. It’s happened before. Remember Cristian Mungiu and ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ in 2007?
Lars von Trier, ‘Melancholia’Can you imagine Danish provocateur and daring storyteller Von Trier unveiling a new film anywhere else but Cannes, where the world’s media sends the hype around his films into overdrive? The Croisette laps up his antics every time. In 2009, it was his dark fantasy about grief, ‘Antichrist’. This time, it’s a family drama about the end of the world, the trailer of which makes it look like ‘Festen’ meets ‘Deep Impact’. It stars Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Rampling, Kiefer Sutherland and others.
Nicolas Winding Refn, ‘Drive’The Cannes competition isn't the place you expect to find this sort of straight genre fare: Danish troublemaker Winding Refn’s follow-up to muscleman epics ‘Bronson’ and ‘Valhalla Rising’ sees Ryan Gosling play a stuntman-turned-criminal who goes on the run following a botched heist. The cast is rounded out by the likes of Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman and TV stars Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks. It sounds like a pretty straightforward road-rage shoot-em-up, but we assume there’s more to this than meets the eye.
The 64th Cannes Film starts on May 11
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