Cannes Film Festival 2016: Films to look out for
It is May, the height of Spring, and we will be braving the French Riviera to cover the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. Joy unconfined, then, for cinephiles, filmmakers, distributors, industry types, networkers, hangers-on, schmoozers, celebrity spotters and film critics.
For 11 days Cannes will showcase some of the best of World cinema while courting inevitable controversy from both inside and outside the packed screenings. Expected, as ever, are heavy queues and storms in teacups – more unusual are the rainstorms forecast to dominate the festival.
The 20 films in competition for the premium prize, the Palme d’Or, will be projected in the sprawling, expansive Théâtre Lumière. The list of directors vying for contention is populated by many Cannes favourites – the Dardenne brothers, Pedro Almodóvar, Jim Jarmusch, Ken Loach – and if the top prize proves elusive, the Grand Prix, Prix du Jury and several individual awards can temper the disappointment.
To find greater diversity and incipient talent, it is perhaps fruitful to cast an eye over the Un Certain Regard section, traditionally viewed as the true spirit of Cannes. For the commercially inclined, however, several big name English-language films – Steven Spielberg’s much anticipated live-action version of The BFG, Shane Black’s Crowe and Gosling-led The Nice Guys, and Jodie Foster’s financial crisis critique Money Monster – are to be screened out of competition. The latest from Woody Allen’s annual churn out, Café Society, will open the festival.
The veteran Australian filmmaker George Miller has been named president of this year’s jury. His stock is high after the successful reboot of Mad Max, which unexpectedly won six Academy Awards (after being nominated for ten) at the 2016 Oscars. Miller, along with the other jury members, will decide the prize allocation at the end of the festival, including the recipient of the coveted Palme d’Or. Curiously, out of place with custom, the winning film will close Cannes this year.
Here is a short selection of the films to look out for:
It’s Only the End of the World – Xavier Dolan
The precocious and prolific Dolan, only 27 years old, returns with It’s Only the End of the World, starring two of the biggest French actresses currently working, Léa Seydoux and Marion Cotillard. After the large success of Mommy at last year’s Cannes, Dolan hopes to repeat the trick with this study of a terminally ill writer who reunites with his family.
American Honey – Andrea Arnold
There is some British interest with Arnold’s return to Cannes with American Honey, featuring publicity magnet Shia LaBeouf in the lead role. The Fish Tank director takes us to the Midwest, where a teenage cohort face exploitation, embrace hedonism and sell magazine subscriptions. Could be terrible, but sounds interesting.
The Neon Demon – Nicolas Winding Refn
If Winding Refn is still smarting from the divided response (to put it kindly) Only God Forgives received at Cannes a few years ago, he does not appear to be easing off the antagonism. The Neon Demon combines fashion, vampires and cannibalism. Expect a visual barrage and much critical controversy.
Paterson – Jim Jarmusch
Jarmusch hopes to continue his career renaissance with Paterson, featuring Adam Driver in the title role as a poetry-writing bus driver and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani as his ambitious, adoring wife. Jarmusch’s last effort, Only Lovers Left Alive, was a solid addition to his oeuvre and was warmly received at Cannes. There are high expectations for this year’s entry.