The Cannes Film Festival line-up is now complete and looks like one of the best line-ups in years. After the official selection was announced last Thursday, further additions have been made in the past few days, with the Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight selections confirmed.
Pixar’s latest movie Elemental — the fourth time the American animation house has graced Cannes — was unveiled as the closing film. The story centres around a city where living embodiments of the elements — water, fire, land, and air — all reside.
Already the 2023 selection feels like a year of comebacks. In competition, vying for the Palme d’Or, is Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, a German-Polish adaptation of the 2014 Martin Amis novel. Glazer hasn’t made a film since 2013’s much-acclaimed sci-fi Under The Skin.
Set in Auschwitz during the Second World War, The Zone of Interest tells the story of a Nazi officer who has fallen for the camp commandant’s wife. It stars Sandra Huller, featured in the Cannes favourite Toni Erdmann, and marks Glazer’s first time in a Cannes competition.
With six female directors — the festival’s highest-ever number — also competing for the Palme d’Or, another major returning voice is Catherine Breillat. The provocative French director behind Romance and A ma soeur! has been absent from our screens for a decade, since she made 2013’s Abuse of Weakness, with Isabelle Huppert. Her new feature, L’Ete dernier, which stars Lea Drucker, is being billed as an intense family drama.
There’s also a much-heralded return for the French filmmaker of Vietnamese heritage, Tran Anh Hung, who won the Camera d’Or in Cannes — the prize awarded to the best debut — in 1993 for The Scent of Green Papaya. He last directed 2016’s Eternity, and he’s now returning with The Passion of Dodin Bouffant. Adapted from the 1924 novel by Marcel Rouf, this 19th century-set love story set in a renowned kitchen stars former real-life partners Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel.
In Director’s Fortnight, France’s Michel Gondry is also back for his first movie in eight years. While he’s kept himself busy making shorts and music videos, the director of the Oscar-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last made a feature with 2015’s little-seen Microbe and Gasoline. His latest, The Book of Solutions, is described as an off-beat existential comedy and features Pierre Niney, the French actor famed for playing fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent.
Of course, all eyes will be on the out-of-competition Killers of the Flower Moon by Martin Scorsese. Remarkably, it’s Scorsese’s first time in Cannes since 1984’s After Hours (his famous 1976 movie Taxi Driver also played there, winning the Palme d’Or).
This new work, his first for Apple TV+, centres on the Oklahoma murders in the Osage Nation during the 1920s, when oil was found on tribal land. It’s also the first time his two most beloved actors, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio — who last co-starred in 1993’s This Boy’s Life and 1996’s Marvin’s Room — have ever featured together in a Scorsese movie.
You also have to wonder if The Old Oak will mark the swansong of veteran British director Ken Loach, who turns 87 in June. Then again, predictions that the two-time Palme d’Or winner is retiring have been wide of the mark before. Following recent efforts, I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You, this latest effort is another drama located in England’s northeast, set around a declining mining community, and dealing with the arrival of Syrian refugees.
Away from the comebacks and the sign-offs, the Critics Week and Director’s Fortnight line-ups also have included some exciting additions from the Mena region. In Critics Week, Amjad Al-Rasheed’s Inshallah Walad (Inshallah a Boy) marks the first-ever Jordanian film to compete in the Cannes sidebar. Shot in the Jordanian capital of Amman, it tells the story of a young widow, Nawal, and her daughter, who are about to lose their home.
As part of Director’s Fortnight, Moroccan actor-director Faouzi Bensaidi (Volubilis) will present his latest work Deserts. Starring Fehd Benchemsi, it follows two debt collectors sent by their agency into the Moroccan Sahara. As Bensaidi told Variety when the film was in development, it’s “an abstract Western”, an existential look at “Man against himself, against God and against nature and coming to terms with his own interior violence.” Old and new, this is going to be a very exciting Cannes.
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 to 27