Will a Semi-Presence in Cannes Mollify U.K. and Spain?

Some national industryites decry fest's selections

PARIS – The thing about predicting doom is that the future rarely lives up to worst expectations.

Proof came Friday as Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux unveiled the final four films in next month’s Official Selection.

Ever since the April 18 announcement of the fest’s lineup, U.K. industryites have been lamenting the absence of British film;  Spain’s El Pais published a soul-searching one-page article Friday about a Spanish shutout and Germany was feeling similarly slighted.

In one fell swoop, Fremaux added films from the U.K., Germany and Spain, deflating those who sense a bias against their national industries. Yet the Cannes cut points up blunt realities about both the U.K. and Spanish film biz.

Jim Jarmusch’s vampire romance “Only Lovers Left Alive” (pictured above) with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, took the last competition slot. “Le Dernier des injustes,” a Holocaust documentary from France’s Claude Lanzmann (“Shoah”) will play out of competition.

“Tore Tanzt,” the feature debut of Germany’s Katrin Gebbe, made Un Certain Regard, as did Kurdistan-born Hiner Saleem’s border drama “My Sweet Pepperland” and Argentine helmer Lucia Puenzo’s “Wakolda,” about a former Nazi hiding in a Patagonia village.

Jarmusch’s “Alive” is lead-produced by Jeremy Thomas’ Recorded Picture Co., and “Wakolda,” a step-up in scale for Puenzo, is a Spanish movie co-produced by Jose Maria and Miguel Morales’ Wanda Vision.

In addition, U.K. co-production “Monsoon Shootout” will receive a Midnight Screening.

Not that the selection will satisfy diehard movie nationalists in either the U.K. or Spain: “Alive” is directed by an American, “Wakolda” by an Argentine, and lead-produced by Luis Puenzo at Buenos Aires’ Historias Cinematograficas.

Will Fremaux’s selections halt debates in the U.K. and Spain about the lack of competition presence for national films? Probably not. Neither country have ever had the large established audiences for art-house movies of France, nor France’s zeal to co-produce or co-finance fest-worthy talent from any corner of the globe.

“My Sweet Pepperland” is backed, for instance, by France’s Memento Films Distribution.

“We’ll only get into Cannes with radical films,” Spanish director Jaime Rosales told El Pais Friday. But in Spain, financing for left-of-field art films is becoming far more difficult, not easier to find.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this article

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