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Cannes: 2019 Lineup Includes ‘Rocketman’ and Films by 13 Women

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival has announced its lineup, unveiling an official selection that includes 13 female filmmakers, a number of genre movies, more American titles than last year and an opportunity for Elton John to make a star turn on the Croisette.

Twelve of the 47 films announced Thursday are directed by women (one was co-directed by two women), with four of those titles chosen to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or. The U.S. will be represented by the likes of Terrence Malick (with his German-language wartime drama “A Hidden Life”), Ira Sachs (who unveils Portugal-set Isabelle Huppert starrer “Frankie”), and director Jim Jarmusch, whose zombie satire “The Dead Don’t Die” was previously announced as the opening night film. And the biggest star to walk the red carpet will likely be rock superstar John, whose early career is immortalized in British director Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman – described as “a signal of the return of major studios to Cannes” by artistic director Thierry Frémaux during his Paris press conference Thursday morning.

Conspicuously absent from the titles announced was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is still in editing, according to Frémaux, and which he hopes will be completed in time to premiere at Cannes. For the moment, the competition slate stands at 19 films, although Frémaux indicated that there are still several films they have not seen and hope to consider.

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Other high-profile films in the lineup include Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” now playing in Spanish cinemas, and new films from two-time Palme d’Or winners Ken Loach (“Sorry We Missed You”) and Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (“The Young Ahmed”). Italian director Marco Bellocchio has never won, but his latest, “The Traitor,” marks his seventh time in competition.

Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who shared the Grand Prix with Jean-Luc Godard at Cannes three years earlier, returns with “Matthias and Maxime,” in which he also stars, while French director Arnaud Desplechin, who opened the festival with “Ismael’s Ghosts” in 2017, will compete with “Oh Mercy!”

During the press conference, Frémaux and Cannes president Pierre Lescure underscored the festival’s decision not to allow any Netflix films into competition, although the rules for non-theatrical experiences are more flexible in other categories, which explains the inclusion of two episodes from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Amazon series, “Too Old to Die Young” (the fourth and fifth of the upcoming season), starring Miles Teller, out of competition.

Frémaux and Lescure began by paying tribute to late French cinema legend Agnès Varda, who is featured on this year’s poster, pointing out the pioneering spirit of this female director who made her first feature at the age of 26. In response to criticism of its traditionally male-dominated selections in the past, Frémaux has diversified his selection committee to reflect parity between men and women, which no doubt contributed to the inclusion of four female directors in competition, tying the record set in 2011.

Among these, French-Senegalese actress-director Mati Diop will present her narrative debut, “Atlantique,” which is set in a suburb of Dakar and follows a woman in love with a young worker who disappears at sea but who returns with several of his colleagues to haunt their old neighborhood. Austrian helmer Jessica Hausner’s science-fiction entry “Little Joe,” starring Ben Whishaw and Emily Beecham, is one of just three English-language films in competition.

“Tomboy” director Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” stars Adèle Haenel (“BPM”) as a reluctant bride-to-be who has just left the convent and falls in love with the painter commissioned to do her wedding portrait. Also from France, Justine Triet graduates from Critics’ Week to competition with “Sibyl,” which re-teams the director with Virginie Efira (“Victoria”), who plays a novelist-turned-psychoanalyst in a sensual psychological thriller co-starring Gaspard Ulliel and Adèle Exarchopoulos.

In other categories, Cannes will show Cinéfondation short film winner Pippa Bianco’s “Share” (which premiered at Sundance) as a special screening. The Un Certain Regard section features two English-language films by women: Danielle Lessovitz’s “Port Authority,” executive produced by Martin Scorsese and set in the world of New York’s ballroom voguing scene, and “Bull,” from Austin, Texas-based Annie Silverstein, another Cinéfondation winner for her short film “Skunk.”

Apart from Diop (who made the documentary “A Thousands Suns”), the only debut in the main competition is director Ladj Ly’s “Les Misérables,” which was inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris. Half a dozen of the films selected for Un Certain Regard are first features.

Another significant trend in this year’s program is the sheer number of genre films, ranging from American zombie movies to those that deal with suspense in less explicit ways, such as “Aquarius” director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s political parable “Bacurau,” co-directed with Juliano Dornelles. Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho (“Okja”) returns with “Parasite,” while his countryman Lee Won-Tae will unleash “The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil” at a midnight screening (so far the only film in that section).

Cannes included one animated feature, “The Swallows of Kabul” from female co-directors Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobé Mévellec, as well as several documentaries, among them “Amy” director Asif Kapadia’s “Diego Maradona,” about the famous soccer player; Werner Herzog’s Japan-made “Family Romance, LLC”; and a realistic (but not entirely nonfiction) film from Abel Ferrara entitled “Tommaso,” featuring Willem Dafoe.

The festival runs May 14-25. The parallel Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week programs will take place during the same dates, but technically fall outside the “official selection,” and as such, will announce their lineups later this month.

2019 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

OPENER

“The Dead Don’t Die” (Jim Jarmusch), pictured

COMPETITION

“Atlantique” (Mati Diop)

“Bacurau” (Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles)

“Frankie” (Ira Sachs)

“A Hidden Life” (Terrence Malick)

“It Must Be Heaven” (Elia Suleiman)

“Les Misérables” (Ladj Ly)

“Little Joe” (Jessica Hausner)

“Matthias and Maxime” (Xavier Dolan)

“Oh Mercy!” (Arnaud Desplechin)

“Pain and Glory” OR “Dolor y Gloria” (Pedro Almodóvar)

“Parasite” OR “Gisaengchung” (Bong Joon Ho), pictured

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” OR “Portrait de la jeune fille en feu” (Céline Sciamma)

“Sibyl” (Justine Triet)

“Sorry We Missed You” (Ken Loach)

“The Traitor” OR “Il Traditore” (Marco Bellocchio)

“The Whistlers” OR “La Gomera” (Corneliu Porumboiu)

“The Wild Goose Lake” OR “Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui” (Diao Yinan)

“The Young Ahmed” (Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne)

Parasite

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“Adam” (Maryam Touzani)

“Beanpole” OR “Dylda” (Kantemir Balagov)

“A Brother’s Love” (Monia Chokri)

“Bull” (Annie Silverstein)

“The Climb” (Michael Covino)

“Evge” (Nariman Aliev)

“Freedom” OR “Liberté” (Albert Serra)

“Invisible Life” OR “Vida Invisivel” (Karim Aïnouz)

“Joan of Arc” OR “Jeanne” (Bruno Dumont)

“Chambre 212” OR “Room 212” (Christophe Honoré)

“Papicha” (Mounia Meddour)

“Port Authority” (Danielle Lessovitz)

“Summer of Changsha” OR “Liu Yu Tian” (Zu Feng)

“The Swallows of Kabul” (Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobé Mévellec)

“A Sun That Never Sets” OR “O Que Arde” (Olivier Laxe)

“Zhuo Ren Mi Mi” (Midi Z)

OUT OF COMPETITION

“The Best Years of a Life” (Claude Lelouch)

“Diego Maradona” (Asif Kapadia)

“La Belle Époque” (Nicolas Bedos)

Rocketman” (Dexter Fletcher)

“Too Old to Die Young – North of Hollywood, West of Hell” (Nicolas Winding Refn), pictured

Parasite

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil” (Lee Won-Tae)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Family Romance, LLC.” (Werner Herzog)

“For Sama” (Waad Al Kateab, Edward Watts)

“Que Sea Ley” (Juan Solanas)

“Share” (Pippa Bianco)

“To Be Alive and Know It” OR “Être vivant et le savoir” (Alain Cavalier)

“Tommaso” (Abel Ferrara)

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