Movers and shakers of the film world are boarding yachts or jets to head for the once sleepy Mediterranean seaside town of Cannes for a 12-day party that also serves as a film festival, with this year’s lineup heavy on drama and light on humour.
The 67th Cannes Film Festival gets under way on Wednesday with 18 films showing in the main competition for the Palme d’Or prize awarded by a majority female jury headed by New Zealand director Jane Campion, the only woman ever to receive the top Cannes award for her 1993 film “The Piano”.
Another 20 films are in the “Un Certain Regard” strand, plus dozens more in the “Directors’ Fortnight”, the “Critics’ Week” and other festival showcases. And, providing the customary dash of controversy, the opening film – “Grace of Monaco” – has been denounced as a “farce” by the late princess’s three children.
Cannes is “insane, very intense and fun”, said Canadian director David Cronenberg, a Cannes regular whose “Maps to the Stars” starring “Twilight” teen vampire series idol Robert Pattinson as a Hollywood wannabe is in competition.
British director Mike Leigh, a past winner of the Palme d’Or, whose “Mr Turner” is based on the life of the British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, said screening a film at Cannes is “a great experience”.
“I’m always delighted to be there. I think it’s my fifth time in competition and I was on the jury so I’m glad to go there with something to do,” he said.
For Turkish director Nuri Ceylan, whose “Winter Sleep” is in competition and whose films have regularly won awards at Cannes, “this is an opportunity to showcase the country and its film business because this is where the heart of the industry beats”, his producer, Zeynep Ozbatur, told Reuters.
American director Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” is based on the murder of a championship wrestler by an heir to the DuPont chemical fortune. “The Search” by French director Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”) is set in war-torn Chechnya.
American actor-director Tommy Lee Jones’s “The Homesman” is a frontier drama starring himself and Meryl Streep while other Cannes veterans in competition include France’s Jean-Luc Godard with “Adieu au Langage” and Canada’s Atom Egoyan with “The Captive”.
Add in 25-year-old Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy”, and Canada has three films in competition to two for the United States, which Cronenberg said is a bit like a victory in the two neighbours’ eternal hockey rivalry.
MOSTLY “OLD EUROPE”, AMERICAN ENTRIES
“The interesting thing for me is how much this lineup relies really on ‘Old Europe’ and America – there are a few Asian films, no German films, very few from Scandinavia and not much from Eastern Europe or Russia,” said Scott Roxborough, Berlin bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter.