Tommy Lee Jones, Bennett Miller, David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan will duke it out with Jean-Luc Godard, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Michel Hazanavicius and the Dardenne brothers for the Palme d’Or at the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival, whose official selection lineup was unveiled this morning in Paris by fest topper Thierry Fremaux.
The wide-ranging competition slate is typically heavy on French filmmakers, with Olivier Assayas’ international co-production “Clouds of Sils Maria” and Bertrand Bonello’s fashion-designer biopic “Saint Laurent” joining Hazanavicius’ “The Search” and Godard’s 3D experiment “Goodbye to Language.” Fremaux noted that Godard, famously a no-show at the 2010 Cannes premiere of his “Film socialisme,” had “promised he’ll be there — which doesn’t mean he will!”
One of the more intriguing developments of this year’s competition is the unusual dominance of Canadian auteurs. As anticipated, no fewer than three Canuck helmers are in the running for the Palme this year: Cronenberg with his Robert Pattinson starrer “Maps to the Stars,” Egoyan with his kidnapping thriller “The Captive,” and 25-year-old Quebecois helmer Xavier Dolan with his relationship drama “Mommy.”
Though outnumbered in competition by its neighbor to the north, the U.S. will be represented by two hotly anticipated titles expected to supply much of the Croisette’s star wattage: Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher,” a ripped-from-the-headlines drama featuring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, and Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman,” a 19th-century Western starring Jones, Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, Miranda Otto and William Fichtner.
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Other filmmakers vying for the Palme include British veterans Loach and Leigh, bringing their period dramas “Jimmy’s Hall” and “Mr. Turner,” respectively; Japanese helmer Naomi Kawase with “Still the Water”; Italian director Alice Rohrwacher with “Le Meraviglie”; Russian auteur Andrei Zvyagintsev with “Leviathan”; Mauritanian helmer Abderrahmane Sissako with “Timbuktu”; Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan with “Winter Sleep”; and, bearing perhaps the competition’s most unforeseen entry, Argentinean filmmaker Damian Szifron with “Wild Tales.”
American titles set to premiere outside the competition include the animated sequel “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” following a sturdy tradition of DreamWorks toons premiering on the Croisette; “Lost River,” the directing debut of actor Ryan Gosling, previously known under the title “How to Catch a Monster”; and Ned Benson’s “Eleanor Rigby,” which screened as a two-part work in progress at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. Gosling and Benson will present their films in the official selection’s Un Certain Regard sidebar.
In a modest improvement over its dismal distaff numbers in 2012 and 2013, the festival has slotted two female filmmakers (Kawase and Rohrwacher) in the competition, whose jury will be presided over by Jane Campion, still the only female director ever to have won the Palme d’Or (for 1993’s “The Piano”).
“Usually I don’t mention the number (of films directed by women),” Fremaux quipped in his opening remarks, sparking laughter from journos over what has been an especially sensitive subject for the festival in recent years. But he made an exception this time, noting that, of the 49 titles picked for this year’s official selection (from some 1,800 submissions), 15 female directors were represented, most of them in Un Certain Regard: “Incompresa,” from actress-helmer Asia Argento; “Bird People,” from French helmer Pascale Ferran; “Amour fou,” from Austria’s Jessica Hausner; “Harcheck mi headro,” from Israel’s Keren Yedaya; and “Party Girl,” co-directed by two women, Marie Amachoukeli and Claire Burger and a man, Samuel Theis.
Fremaux singled out Argento’s “Incompresa” as an “extremely personal film,” pointing out that it was one of a handful of films directed by actors in the festival, including Gosling’s “Lost River” and Amalric’s Un Certain Regard entry “The Blue Room.” “There are not that many, but they’re all important,” Fremaux said.
The robust-looking Midnight sidebar will include Kristian Levring’s Danish Western “The Salvation”; Yoon Hong-seung’s thriller “The Target”; and “The Rover,” David Michod’s follow-up to “Animal Kingdom.” Like Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” “The Rover” stars Robert Pattinson — which, in a twist already breathlessly anticipated by “Twilight” fans, will likely position the British heartthrob at the same festival as Kristen Stewart, who stars in Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
Fremaux said more titles might be added to the selection between now and the festival, which runs May 14-25. While he wouldn’t comment on the apparent exclusion of Abel Ferrara’s hotly tipped Dominique Strauss-Kahn drama “Welcome to New York,” the film could still be a late addition to the lineup. Other expected titles that weren’t announced Thursday morning include Roy Andersson’s “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden,” Christian Petzold’s “Phoenix,” Celine Sciamma’s “Bande de filles,” Takashi Miike’s “Over My Dead Body” and Hong Sang-soo’s “Hill of Freedom.”
Pics selected for Cannes Classics, devoted to restored films and documentaries on cinema, will be announced later this month. The Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight sidebars will unveil their entries on April 21 and 22, respectively.
2014 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP
“Grace of Monaco” (Olivier Dahan, France-U.S.-Belgium-Italy) Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in Dahan’s 1960s-set biopic, which, as previously announced, is kicking off the festival out of competition. The Weinstein Co. is distributing the film Stateside. (Sales: Lotus Entertainment)
“The Captive” (Atom Egoyan, Canada) Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson star in this abduction thriller, Egoyan’s sixth competition entry; the Canadian helmer won the Grand Prix for 1997’s “The Sweet Hereafter.” (Sales: eOne)
“Clouds of Sils Maria” (Olivier Assayas, France-Switzerland-Germany) IFC has Stateside rights to this English-language picture about an actress who withdraws to the Swiss town of the title, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. Assayas was previously in competition with “Clean,” “Demonlover” and “Les Destinees sentimentales,” but has yet to win a Cannes prize. (Sales: MK2)
“Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller, U.S.) Once slated to open last year’s AFI Film Festival before being pushed to 2014, this third feature from the highly regarded director of “Capote” and “Moneyball” is an account of the murder of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz. Sony Classics is releasing the film Stateside. (Sales: Panorama Media)
“Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland) Previously at the festival with 2010’s characteristically cryptic “Film socialisme,” Godard will make his seventh appearance in competition (if you count his contribution to 1987’s “Aria”). His latest offering will be presented in 3D. (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“The Homesman” (Tommy Lee Jones, U.S.) Set around his period Western is the actor-director’s first helming effort since his 2005 debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which won two prizes at Cannes (including an acting award for Jones). (Sales: EuropaCorp)
“Jimmy’s Hall” (Ken Loach, U.K.-Ireland-France) Reportedly the British realist’s final fiction feature, this drama about the Irish communist leader James Gralton will mark Loach’s 12th time in competition. He won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and recently received a jury prize for 2012’s “The Angels’ Share.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Leviathan” (Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia) A multi-character fusion of social drama and sci-fi set in a “new country,” Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature marks his first return to the Cannes competition since 2007’s “The Banishment”; his previous film, “Elena,” closed Un Certain Regard in 2011. (Sales: Pyramide)
“Le Meraviglie” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-Switzerland-Germany) One of two female directors in competition this year, Italian writer-director Rohrwacher delivers her second feature after her 2011 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Corpo celeste.” It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl in the Umbrian countryside whose secluded life is shattered by the arrival of a young German ex-con. (Sales: The Match Factory)
“Maps to the Stars” (David Cronenberg, Canada-U.S.-France-Germany) This satire of the entertainment industry will be the Canadian auteur’s fifth film to screen in competition at Cannes (following “Crash,” “Spider,” “A History of Violence” and “Cosmopolis”), and his second consecutive collaboration with star Robert Pattinson. It could also be his first film to win the Palme d’Or. (Sales: eOne)
“Mommy” (Xavier Dolan, France-Canada) One of the younger directors to crack the competition (at age 25), the Quebecois helmer scooped up multiple Critics’ Week prizes for his 2009 debut, “I Killed My Mother,” and entered Un Certain Regard with “Heartbeats” and “Laurence Anyways.” His latest is a relationship drama starring Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement and Antoine-Olivier Pilon. (Sales: eOne)
“Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh, U.K.) A four-time veteran of the Cannes competition who won the Palme d’Or for 1996’s “Secrets & Lies” and director for 1993’s “Naked,” the British master will return to the festival with this portrait of the 19th-century painter J.M.W. Turner, starring Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. Sony Classics is distributing in the U.S. (Sales: Sunray Films)
“Saint Laurent” (Bertrand Bonello, France) Not to be confused with Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” the other recent biopic of the French fashion designer, Bonello’s film stars Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux. The helmer was previously in competition with 2011’s “House of Pleasures” (then titled “House of Tolerance”) and 2003’s “Tiresia.” (Sales: EuropaCorp)
“The Search” (Michel Hazanavicius, France) Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening topline this drama centered around the bond between an NGO worker and a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. A remake of Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar-winning 1948 film of the same title, it marks Hazanavicius’ return to the Cannes competition after his 2011 prizewinner, “The Artist.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Still the Water” (Naomi Kawase, Japan) By now a Cannes competition regular, Kawase won the Grand Prix for 2007’s “The Mourning Forest” and received the Camera d’Or for her 1997 debut, “Suzaku.” Her latest film is set on the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima and centers on a young couple trying to solve a mysterious death. (Sales: MK2)
“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako, France) The Mauritanian-born, Mali-raised director, who was previously at Cannes with 2006’s “Bamako,” tells the story of a young couple who were stoned to death in northern Mali for the crime of “not being married before God.” (Sales: Le Pacte)
“Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium) Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet star in this story of a young woman trying to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job. Already acquired by Sundance Selects for the U.S., it will be the Belgian brothers’ sixth film to compete at Cannes; they have won the Palme d’Or twice, for 1999’s “Rosetta” and 2005’s “L’enfant.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Wild Tales” (Damian Szifron, Argentina-Spain) Pedro Almodovar is one of the producers of this series of comic sketches from Argentinean writer-director Szifron, making his first appearance at Cannes. (Sales: Film Factory)
“Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France) This three-hour-plus drama is set in the titular landscape of Ceylan’s previous film (and 2011 Cannes Grand Prix winner), “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.” The rigorous Turkish auteur also won the festival’s directing prize for 2008’s “Three Monkeys” and the Grand Prix for 2002’s “Distant.” (ZeynoFilm)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“Coming Home” (Zhang Yimou, China) Zhang’s 12th collaboration with Gong Li (star of his Cannes competition entries “Ju Dou,” “To Live” and “Shanghai Triad”) is a romantic drama set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. Sony Classics is distributing the film in North America and other territories. (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois, U.S.) This Fox-distributed sequel to 2010’s smash hit “How to Train Your Dragon” follows in a long line of DreamWorks toons that have bowed on the Croisette, including “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Kung Fu Panda” and last year’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”
UN CERTAIN REGARD
OPENER: “Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, France) This directorial debut for all three co-helmers tells the story of a 60-year-old nightclub hostess who finally decides to settle down by marrying a member of her clientele. It was selected to open Un Certain Regard “because we’ve noted that the young French cinema is in a state of fervor and vitality, and we need to encourage it,” Fremaux said. (Sales: Pyramide)
“Amour fou” (Jessica Hausner, Austria-Luxembourg-Germany) This follow-up to Hausner’s acclaimed 2009 drama “Lourdes” is “a parable about the ambivalence of love” inspired by the suicide pact of the 19th-century poet Heinrich von Kleist and his friend Henriette Vogel. (Sales: Coproduction Office)
“Away From His Absence” (Keren Yedaya) This is the third feature from Israeli helmer Yedaya, who was previously at Cannes with 2009’s Jewish-Arab love story “Jaffa” and her 2004 Camera d’Or winner, “Or (My Treasure).”
“Bird People” (Pascale Ferran, France) Ferran’s first film since her acclaimed “Lady Chatterley” is a relationship drama with a supernatural element, starring Josh Charles (formerly of “The Good Wife”) and Anais Demoustier. (Sales: Films Distribution)
“The Blue Room” (Mathieu Amalric, France) The French actor-helmer, who won a directing prize for 2010’s “On Tour,” stars along with Lea Drucker in this adaptation of a 1964 Georges Simenon novel. (Sales: Alfama)
“Charlie’s Country” (Rolf de Heer, Australia) This third collaboration between de Heer and actor David Gulpilil extends the director’s commitment to exploring Australian Aboriginal culture. It world premiered at the recent Adelaide Film Festival. (Sales: Visit Films)
“Eleanor Rigby” (Ned Benson, U.S.) Previously a two-part, 191-minute drama titled “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” this Weinstein Co. release starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy chronicles the dissolution of a marriage. (Sales: Myriad Pictures)
“Fantasia” (Wang Chao) The Chinese writer-director was previously in Cannes with his 2006 Un Certain Regard prizewinner, “Luxury Car.”
“Force Majeure” (Ruben Ostlund) Formerly titled “Tourist,” Ostlund’s fourth feature was shot at a ski resort in France and deploys “aesthetic and narrative codes that are completely different from what we’re used to,” said Fremaux. The Swedish helmer was previously at Cannes with 2011’s “Play” and 2008’s “Involuntary.” (Sales: Coproduction Office)
“A Girl at My Door” (July Jung, South Korea) Produced by Cannes competition favorite Lee Chang-dong, Jung’s debut feature centers around a young woman being abused by her stepfather. (Sales: CJ E&M Corp.)
“Hermosa juventud” (Jaime Rosales) The Barcelona-born director was previously in Un Certain Regard with 2007’s “Solitary Fragments.”
“Incompresa” (Asia Argento, Italy-France) Argento has been a fixture of the festival as a director (2004’s “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”) and an actress (“Boarding Gate,” “The Last Mistress,” “Go Go Tales,” “Dracula 3D”). Her latest helming effort, which features Charlotte Gainsbourg, takes its title from that of Luigi Comencini’s “Incompreso” (“Misunderstood”). (Sales: Paradis Films)
“Lost River” (Ryan Gosling, U.S.) Until now known under the title “How to Catch a Monster,” Gosling’s writing-directing debut, which was acquired last year by Warner Bros. for U.S. distribution, is a Detroit-shot fantasy-drama starring Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan and Eva Mendes. The actor has been a frequent visitor to Cannes lately in films including “Drive,” “Only God Forgives” and “Blue Valentine.” (Sales: Sierra/Affinity)
“Run” (Philippe Lacote, France-Ivory Coast) Ivory Coast native Lacote shines a light on his country’s violent history with this drama about a runaway who has just killed the prime minister of his homeland. (Sales: BAC Films)
“Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France-Italy-Brazil) Wenders’ latest documentary is a portrait of the photographer Sebastiao Salgado (father of co-helmer Juliano Ribeiro Salgado), focusing on his eight-year Genesis project. (Sales: Le Pacte)
“Snow in Paradise” (Andrew Hulme, U.K.) This Kickstarter-funded debut feature for editor-turned-director Hulme is “very contemporary,” says Fremaux. It tells the story of a petty criminal in London’s East End who seeks redemption through Islam. (Sales: The Match Factory)
“Titli” (Kanu Behl, India) A rare independent feature financed by Bollywood powerhouse Yash Raj Films, Behl’s debut film follows a young man in Delhi trying to escape the oppression of his brothers. (Sales: Westend Films)
Untitled (Lisandro Alonso, Denmark-U.S.-Argentina) Viggo Mortensen stars in this drama about a father and daughter journeying from Denmark to an unknown desert. It’s the Argentine auteur’s first feature since his 2008 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Liverpool.” (Sales: NDM)
“Xenia” (Panos Koutras, Greece-France-Belgium) Two brothers head to Thessaloniki to look for the father they’ve never met in this dark portrait of contemporary Greek society. (Sales: Pyramide)
“The Rover” (David Michod, Australia) Michod’s follow-up to “Animal Kingdom” stars Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy in a violent thriller set against the Australian outback. A24 has U.S. distribution rights. (Sales: FilmNation Entertainment)
“The Salvation” (Kristian Levring, Denmark) “It’s a Danish Western, and that’s the best way to describe it,” Fremaux said. (Sales: Trust Nordisk)
“The Target” (Yoon Hong-seung, South Korea): A remake of French director Fred Cavaye’s actioner “Point Blank.” (Sales: Gaumont/CJ Entertainment)
“Bridges of Sarajevo” (Aida Begic, Isild le Besco, Leonardo di Constanzo, Jean-Luc Godard, Kamen Kalev, Sergei Loznitsa, Vincenzo Marra, Ursula Meier, Vladimir Perisic, Cristi Puiu, Marc Recha, Angela Schanelec, Teresa Villaverde) This omnibus work will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. Godard and Loznitsa, both of whom contribute shorts here, have features elsewhere in the official selection. (Sales: Rezo)
“Caricaturistes: Fantassins de la democratie” (Stephanie Valloatto, France) A documentary about 12 newspaper cartoonists from around the world. (Sales: Kinology)
“Maidan” (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine) A Fremaux discovery and two-time Cannes competition veteran (with 2010’s “My Joy” and 2012’s “In the Fog”), Loznitsa here directs a documentary on the protests in the Ukrainian capital’s central square.
“Red Army” (Gabe Polsky) A hybrid political-sports documentary that examines Russian hockey culture during the Cold War, directed by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Polsky. (Sales: Wild Bunch)
“Silvered Water” (Mohammed Oussama and Wiam Bedirxan, Syria-France) A portrait of violence in modern-day Syria as filmed by multiple video activists in the besieged city of Homs, tied together by Oussama, who is currently exiled in Paris. (Sales: Films d’Ici)
CELEBRATION OF THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF LE MONDE
“Les Gens du Monde” (Yves Jeuland, France) Jeuland’s latest documentary pays tribute to the French newspaper’s seven-decade history. (Sales: Rezo)