PARIS — In a departure from tradition, a number of films that will be shown at the Cannes Festival this year have never been seen before and, further, will never be available for release.
The films, in fact, are of two or three minutes duration and were directed by past winners of the coveted Palme d’Or. The filmmakers were asked to do the films by Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux as part of the 60th year anniversary of the festival, which kicks off May 15.
Fest prexy Jacob has been working on the project for more than a year and a half.
The 30-odd shorts, by the likes of Gus Van Sant, Wong Kar Wai, Theo Angelopoulos and last year’s Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach, who shot his film in London, rep a compilation honoring not the fest itself, but world cinema, per Jacob’s desire.
Others known to be contributing include Michael Cimino, Wim Wenders, Lars von Trier, Amos Gitai, Abbas Kiarostami, Manoel de Oliveira, Chen Kaige, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang.
Pedro Almodovar was unable to take part in the project.
The Cannes project is such a jealously guarded secret that even the directors involved don’t know who their fellow participants are, let alone what order their films are going to be placed in.
“We were just told to shoot and hand it in,” said one source.
The feature-length film will screen at a special anniversary gala on May 20, which Cannes organizers said will be relatively low key.
“We don’t want the festivities to overshadow Cannes’ main business of showcasing films,” a spokesman for the festival said. “The idea is to put cinema itself at the center of our celebrations.”
Other likely helming suspects could include Emir Kusturica, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Nanni Moretti and the Dardenne brothers.