Cannes Film Festival 2012 line-up announced

Dave Calhoun explores the 22 films competing for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012

Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom'

The film-lover’s year started in earnest today with the announcement of the line-up for the 65th Cannes Film Festival, which will open on May 16 with the world premiere of Wes Anderson's ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, a 1960s-set tale of childhood romance. Directors who will compete for the Palme d’Or over 12 days include Britain’s Ken Loach, Austria’s Michael Haneke, France’s Jacques Audiard, Brazil’s Walter Salles and Canada’s David Cronenberg.

It looks set to be an unusually big year for American cinema at the festival, with five US titles in the running for the Palme d’Or including Lee Daniels’s ‘The Paperboy’, John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’ and Andrew Dominik’s ‘Killing Them Softly’. Those three films alone should see the American stars Brad Pitt, Zac Efron, Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain walk the festival’s famous red steps.

Last year’s Cannes was widely seen to be a vintage edition and a reconfirmation of the importance of the event on the world stage. Films that took their first steps at the 2011 festival included Oscar-winning ‘The Artist’, Terrence Malick’s godly ‘The Tree of Life’ and Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic ‘Melancholia’. Many of the big-hitters of world cinema were present and correct: Pedro Almodóvar, Lynne Ramsay, Nanni Moretti, Paolo Sorrentino and many more.

So who and what would be left for 2012? Take a sigh of relief: on paper, this year’s Cannes competition is looking very interesting indeed with a mix of familiar faces, a few more filmmakers working in the English language than usual and some less known names, such as the Ukrainian Sergei Loznitsa, who brings his second fiction feature, ‘In the Fog’, to Cannes, and the Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah, whose ‘After the Battle’ promises to take the pulse of Egypt following the events of the Arab Spring last year.

There are some auteurs who are near enough guaranteed a place in the Cannes competition when they have a film ready. Loach is one of those, and his ‘The Angels’ Share’, a tale of a group of young, unemployed Glaswegians who decide to siphon off some rare whisky from a Highlands distillery, will compete at Cannes before opening in UK cinemas on June 1.

Michael Haneke is another darling of the festival. Last time he was at Cannes, in 2009, he won the Palme d'Or for ‘The White Ribbon’ and in 2005 took away the directing prize for ‘Hidden’. This time, the Austrian arrives in France with ‘Amour’, a story of an elderly couple (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) and their daughter (Isabelle Huppert) dealing with ageing and mortality. The Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami regularly brings work to Cannes, too, and he follows ‘Certified Copy’ with another film set outside his home country of Iran: ‘Like Someone in Love’ was shot in Japan.

Another Cannes regular is David Cronenberg, who follows ‘A Dangerous Method’, which had its world premiere at Venice last September, with ‘Cosmopolis’, an adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, so giving one of the film’s leads, British actor Robert Pattinson, a chance to walk up the Cannes red carpet for the first time. His ‘Twilight’ co-star Kristen Stewart will also be seeking newfound arthouse credibility when she turns up to promote Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles’s Jack Kerouac adaptation ‘On the Road’. Salles, too, is a Cannes favourite and has been in competition before with ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ and ‘Linha de Passe’.

Cannes wouldn’t be Cannes without a little flag-waving, and what about the Brits? Loach is the only homegrown director competing for the Palme d’Or, and considering both that he won it in 2006 for ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ and that the ‘The Angels’ Share’ is said to be a lighter affair than much of his work, a second win is unlikely. The lack of other British filmmakers in competition was not unexpected: no other world-leading filmmakers from the UK have films ready to unleash on the world.

The Cannes home crowd will be cheering on three French filmmakers who will compete for the Palme d’Or: Jacques Audiard returns to the competition with ‘Rust and Bone’ after winning the Grand Prix for ‘A Prophet’ in 2009; Leos Carax brings ‘Holy Motors’, his first feature since ‘Pola X’ in 1999; and 89-year-old directing titan Alain Resnais will show ‘You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet’, reportedly his final film.

Missing in action from this year’s Cannes line-up are several films that many expected to see in the festival. There was no sign of Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’, Terrence Malick’s ‘The Funeral’ (which may be called ‘The Burial’) or Laurent Cantet’s ‘Foxfire’. 

Let’s not forget, too, it’s not all about high art of the most cerebral kind: ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ has a special screening out of competition.