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CANNES 2020

A scramble unfolds in the home stretch towards Cannes

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- An overview of the favourites and outsiders vying for a place in the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival (running 12 – 23 May 2020)

A scramble unfolds in the home stretch towards Cannes
Directors Nanni Moretti, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ildikó Enyedi, Paul Verhoeven, Mia Hansen-Løve, Leos Carax, Maïwenn, Nadav Lapid and Thomas Vinterberg

After a sumptuous 2019 vintage, whose notes lasted right up until the recent Oscar Awards with the triumph of the Palme d’Or picture Parasite by South Korea’s Bong Joon Ho, the Cannes Film Festival is soon to decant the programme of its 73rd edition, scheduled to unspool between 12 – 23 May 2020. Only two things are known for sure so far: American filmmaker Spike Lee will preside over the Official Competition jury (read our news) and Cannes selector Thierry Frémaux will have a very wide range of films and talented applicants to choose from (which isn’t to say we won’t enjoy a few surprises). An overview of these contenders seems fitting, before they officially enter into the swirling mass of films that will be battling it out in the selection process for their place in the sun, atop the Mount Olympus of world auteur cinema that is the Cannes Film Festival.

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At the forefront of these contenders are three filmmakers already in possession of a Palme d’Or: Italy’s Nanni Moretti, who’ll be staking his bets on Tre piani, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul armed with Memoria (news) and France’s Laurent Cantet brandishing Arthur Rambo (article).

Standing tall amongst the filmmakers having already triumphed in Cannes, we find Japan’s Naomi Kawase with her title True Mothers, Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg with offering Druk (article), Mexico’s Michel Franco with Lo que algunos soñaron, Chad’s Mahamat Saleh-Haroun with Lingui (news), and France’s Bruno Dumont with On a Half Clear Morning (article), alongside his compatriots Maïwenn, Xavier Beauvois and Mathieu Amalric with DNA, Drift Away (news) and Serre moi fort (news) respectively. For the record, the potential inclusion of American director Sofia Coppola in the competition, with On The Rocks, is contingent on her film being released in French cinemas (a precondition for all works in contention for the Palme d’Or) since the film is produced by the Apple platform.

In terms of filmmakers having already participated in the competition on the Croisette, notable names include American director Wes Anderson with The French Dispatch, the Netherlands’ Paul Verhoeven with Benedetta (article), French director Leos Carax with Annette (and the coupling of two stars, Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver), alongside his compatriots François Ozon with Summer of 85, Nicole Garcia with Lisa Redler (article), Stéphane Brizé with For Better or For Worse (news), Xavier Giannoli with Lost Illusions (article) and Benoît Jacquot with Suzanna Andler (news). There’s also Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov with Petrov’s Flu, Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczó with the Canadian production Pieces of a Woman, Austria’s Ulrich Seidl with Wicked Games, Italy’s Daniele Luchetti with The Ties, Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa with Wife of a Spy, the Iraqi Hiner Saleem with Goodnight, Soldier, and maybe even American star Sean Penn with Flag Day (even if the reception The Last Face was treated to in Cannes 2016 does seem difficult to move past on paper).

The most serious contenders for a first possible outing to the French festival’s competition notably include Hungary’s Ildikó Enyedi with The Story of My Wife (article), French director Mia Hansen-Løve with Bergman Island, American Chloé Zhao with Nomadland, her compatriot David Lowery with The Green Knight, China’s Ann Hui with Love After Love, Lebanon’s Danielle Arbid with the French-Belgian co-production Simple Passion (article), and even Israeli director Nadav Lapid with Ahed’s Knee.

There’s no shortage of talent in terms of European productions hoping for a Cannes premiere, as proven by the three Italian titles The Hole, by Michelangelo Frammartino (article), The Macaluso Sisters, by Emma Dante (article), and Miss Marx, by Susanna Nichiarelli. There’s also Fools by Poland’s Tomasz Wasilewski, The Girl and the Spider by Swiss director Ramön Zurcher, The Last Ones by Estonia’s Veiko Õunpuu (article), The Innocents by Norwegian Eskil Vogt (interview with his producer Maria Ekerhovd), Shorta by Danish directors Danois Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm (news), The Europeans by Spanish filmmaker Víctor García León and the English-language feature Wise Blood by Belgium’s Bouli Lanners and Tim Mielants (news).

Likewise impossible to ignore are Amira by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, The Notebooks by Lebanese filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, The Man Who Sold His Skin by Tunisia’s Kaouther Ben Hania (news), A Story of Love and Desire by her compatriot Leyla Bouzid (article), Positive School by Morocco’s Nabil Ayouch (article), La Nuit des Rois by the French-Ivory Coast director Philippe Lacôte, Here We Are by the Israeli Nir Bergman, Shake Your Cares Away by his fellow countryman Tom Shoval and Mainstream by American director Gia Coppola.

On the French side of the starting blocks, over and above the names already mentioned, we find Onoda – 10,000 Nights in the Jungle by Arthur Harari (news), Mandibles by Quentin Dupieux (article), Les Années 10 by Thierry de Peretti (article), Les choses qu’on dit, les choses qu’on fait by Emmanuel Mouret (article) and After Blue by Bertrand Mandico (news), not forgetting Le Quai de Ouistreham by Emmanuel Carrère (news).

Other stand-out productions of French origin include Madame Claude by Sylvie Verheyde, Mon légionnaire by Rachel Lang (news - starring Louis Garrel at the head of the cast), Médecin de nuit by Elie Wajeman (article) and Madeleine Collins by Antoine Barraud (article).

In terms of the ever-highly disputed category of first feature films, we find, amongst others, The Drover’s Wife by Australian director Leah Purcell, Skies of Lebanon by French filmmaker Chloé Mazlo (article), Bruno Reidal by her compatriot Vincent Le Port (news), The Third War by Italy’s Giovanni Aloï (article), Natural Light by Hungarian talent Dénes Nagy (article), The Swarn by French director Just Philippot (article), The Translator by the duo of Syrian origin Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, Hatching by Finnish filmmaker Hanna Bergholm (news), Naked Sky by Georgia’s Dea Kulumbegashvili, Unclenching The Fists by Russian director Kira Kovalenko, Taste by Vietnamese filmmaker Le Bao and the French films Gagarin by the duo composed of Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh (read our article), Rascal by Peter Dourountzis (news), Les Héroïques by Maxime Roy (article) and My Best Part by Nicolas Maury (news). Alongside them are The Hill Where Lionesses Roar by the French-Kosovan Luàna Bajram, Apples by Greece’s Christos Nikou (news), Libertad by Spanish director Clara Roquet, Bootlegger by Canada’s Caroline Monnet, Sans Soleil by Belgian filmmaker Banu Akseki and Moneyboys by China’s Chen Bo Yilin.

Last but not least, bumping up against others on the documentary side are The Brain by Swiss director Jean-Stéphane Bron, and French titles Une histoire à soi by Amandine Gay and Bigger Than Us by Flore Vasseur, while animations include Where is Anne Frank? by Israel’s Ari Folman and La Traversée by Florence Miailhe.

Possible films? Probable films? Amongst these many indications (which films will be ready in the spring? Who made them? Who is selling them?), and the suppositions that are cranked out by prognosticators-come-bar-room-philosophisers in the field of world cinema before the sword of selection finally falls, we also find, among various other hopes and dreams, that of discovering Tenet by American director Christopher Nolan.

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(Translated from French)

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