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‘Annette’ to open 74th Cannes

5 Jun 2021 By AFP

Annette, an upcoming musical film directed by French director Leos Carax (his English debut), which releases in France on July 6, will be the opening film at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, slated to be held between July 6-17 (after having been originally scheduled from May 11-22).

The film tells the story of a provocative stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his wife, a world-famous soprano (Marion Cotillard) whose life take an unexpected turn with the birth of their gifted daughter – Annette.
A rich crop of past Palme d’Or winners and arthouse favourites are set to return to the 2021 Cannes Film Festival as organisers announced a bumper selection for its competition on Thursday.

Among the 24 directors whose films are heading to the Cote d’Azur for July 6-17 are Sean Penn for his new film Flag Day, Italy’s Nanni Moretti (winner in 2001) with Tre Piani and France’s Jacques Audiard (winner in 2015) with Les Oympiades. They join three big auteurs that had already been announced – Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch), Paul Verhoeven (Benedetta) and Leos Carax (Annette).

One silver lining from all the disruption of the past year has been a backlog of cinematic gold that gave organisers some 2,000 films to wade through as they made their selection for the 74th edition of the world’s leading film shindig.

Another past Palme winner returning to the Croisette is Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul with his first English-language film Memoria, starring Tilda Swinton. Iran’s two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi will also return with A Hero, while Russia’s renowned director Kirill Serebrennikov – who has lately faced significant pressure from authorities – will be in competition with Petrov’s Flu.

They will face a jury headed by US director Spike Lee, who was set to preside in 2020 before the festival was cancelled by the pandemic. The opening film was already known – Annette is the first in a decade from French arthouse darling Carax, and his first in English, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as a celebrity couple awaiting a mysterious child.

Verhoeven, meanwhile, promises a touch of scandal on the Croisette with his entry, Benedetta, about a lesbian nun in a 17th century Italian convent – solid ground for the Dutch filmmaker who has often married art and salaciousness with movies like Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Elle.

It has been a particularly long wait for Anderson, who was due to present his latest quirky bauble, The French Dispatch, at last year’s festival.

Filmed in Angouleme in southwest France, it was clearly worth waiting for a proper Gallic launch, and could bring a multitude of stars to the red carpet, with Anderson regulars such as Bill Murray and Adrien Brody joined by new additions including Timothee Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro and France’s own Lea Seydoux.


Also appearing during the fortnight are some special screenings, appearing outside the main competition.

They include a documentary about the troubled US filmstar Val Kilmer (Val) and a new film about 1960s rock stars The Velvet Underground by Todd Haynes.

Oliver Stone will present an update to his 1990s classic film about the Kennedy assassination, having reportedly got hold of some new documents, titled JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. Charlotte Gainsbourg will present a film about her mother Jane Birkin, while Oscar winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) will premiere his new action film with Matt Damon, Stillwater.

The organisers have also teased the possibility of a major blockbuster appearing during the fortnight, though confirmed that it will not be the much-delayed new James Bond film, No Time To Die.

The press conference also spoke about the health measures that organisers promise will make the festival safe for the mass of film professionals and press – some 18,000 have already applied for accreditation, they say.

That is far below the usual attendance, because the normally packed movie marketplace is being held separately and online this year.

France’s COVID-19 statistics are also currently headed in a reassuring direction and it is due to lift remaining restrictions in time for the event, but organisers say visitors will need proof of vaccination or negative tests every two days during the event.


Films competing for Cannes Palme d’Or

Here are the 24 films competing for the prestigious prize awarded by a jury headed by US director Spike Lee.

‘Annette’ by Leos Carax, France

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star as a glamourous celebrity couple whose lives are upended by the arrival of their first child.

‘The French Dispatch’ by Wes Anderson, US 

Film fans can never get enough of Wes Anderson, and his latest quirky bauble can be counted on for more obsessively curated sets and shots.

‘Benedetta’ by Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands 

Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s latest tale recounts a lesbian affair in a 17th-century convent, starring Virginie Efira and Charlotte Rampling.

‘A Hero’ by Asghar Farhadi, Iran 

This film was shot in Iran and in the Farsi language by Oscar winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi,

‘Tout s’est Bien Passe’ (Everything Went Well) by Francois Ozon, France 

Featuring French stars Sophie Marceau and Charlotte Rampling, the film by Francois Ozon tells the story of a woman asked by her father to help him die.

‘Tre Piani’ (Three Floors) by Nanni Moretti, Italy 

Exactly 20 years after winning the Palme d’Or with ‘The Son’s Room’ Moretti is back with his first-ever adaptation of a novel.

‘Titane’ by Julia Ducournau, France 

Starring French veteran actor Vincent Lindon, Titane is the second feature film after ‘Grave’ by horror film specialist Ducournau.

‘Red Rocket’ by Sean Baker, US 

The comedy-drama by indie filmmaker Baker features Simon Rex as an over-the-hill porn star who returns to his hometown in Texas, where he is not very welcome.

‘Petrov’s Flu’ by Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia 

An alcohol-fuelled stroll by a cartoonist and his friend in post-Soviet Russia brings back childhood memories that get mixed up with the present.

‘Par un Demi Clair Matin’ (France) by Bruno Dumont, France 

Adapted from a work by French writer Charles Peguy, the film charts the fall from grace of a star TV reporter whose life crisis is shown against a backdrop of contemporary France.

‘Nitram’ by Justin Kurzel, Australia 

The Australian director looks at events leading up to the Port Arthur mass shooting in Tasmania, in which 35 died and led to reforms of Australian gun control laws.

‘Memoria’ by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand 

Shot in Colombia, Memoria explores the relationship of Swinton’s character with a French archaeologist and a musician as she tries to understand sudden strange sounds in the night.

‘Lingui’ by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad 

Set in the outskirts of N’Djamena, Lingui tells the story of an adolescent whose unwanted pregnancy puts her in conflict with her country’s traditions and the law.

‘Les Olympiades’ (Paris 13th District) by Jacques Audiard, France 

A film by the veteran Palme d’Or winner, based on three graphic novels by US author Adrian Tomine and set in a mixed neighbourhood of the French capital, about three young women and a young man who are sometimes friends, sometimes lovers, and sometimes both.

‘Les Intranquilles’ (The Restless) by Joachim Lafosse, Belgium 

Starring Leila Bekhti and Damien Bonnard, the film tells the story of a couple under stress due to Bonnard’s character suffering from bipolar disorder, and who do their best to protect their child.

  1. ‘La Fracture’ by Catherine Corsini, France 

Two decades after her film “Replay” entered the Cannes competition, Corsini returns with a drama about a couple stuck in a hospital that comes under siege during a violent Paris demonstration inspired by the Yellow Vests movement.

‘The Worst Person in the World’ by Joachim Trier, Norway 

A film about love and its complications, Trier’s “Worst Person” — the third of Trier’s Oslo trilogy — looks at Julie, who turns 30 and is looking for answers in a new relationship only to realise that the much-hoped-for new perspective on life is not really happening.

‘Compartment No 6’ by Juho Kuosmanen, Finland 

Two strangers – a Finnish woman and a gloomy Russian – share a compartment of a train winding its way up to the Arctic circle in a road movie set against the backdrop of the 1980s Soviet Union, by the Finnish director who claims that “the only way to be free is to accept the absurdity of life”.

‘Casablanca Beats’ by Nabil Ayouch, France-Morocco 

Ayouch rocks the suburbs of Casablanca with a film about young people seeking an outlet through hip hop in a neighbourhood that in 2003 became a target of Al Qaeda suicide attacks on hotels, restaurants and community centres.

‘Ahed’s Knee’ by Nadav Lapid, Israel 

After winning prizes in Locarno, Cannes and Berlin for his first three films, Lapid explores two battles waged by an Israeli director, one against the death of freedom and one against the death of a mother, both of which are doomed to failure.

‘Drive My Car’ by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan 

An aging, widowed actor looking for a chauffeur ends up hiring a 20-year-old woman. Things go wrong between them at first, but then a special relationship emerges.

Bergman Island’ by Mia Hansen-Love, France 

An American film-making couple spends a summer on Faro, the windswept Baltic island that inspired Ingmar Bergman. Reality and fiction start to blur as the weeks pass.

‘The Story of My Wife’ by Ildiko Enyedi, Hungary 

Featuring Lea Seydoux, who starred in “Blue Is The Warmest Colour” that won Cannes in 2013, Enyedi’s film kicks off with a bet by a sea captain that he’ll marry the first woman who walks in. The film is based on a novel by Milan Fust.

‘Flag Day’ by Sean Penn, US 

Star actor Penn again steps behind the camera — as well as in front of it — for “Flag Day,” also starring his daughter Dylan Penn as well as Josh Brolin, in which a father lives a double life as a con man, a fact his daughter, an investigative journalist, tries to come to terms with.


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