All eyes are turning this week to the south of France where the annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off with a mouthwatering array of festival tidbits. Celebrating its 65th anniversary, Cannes is distinctive in that it has remained at the top of the film world as almost everything else within the industry has changed so much. Celluloid or digital, big screen to small screen, Hollywood heavyweights to indie stylemakers, Cannes has had the remarkable ability to absorb every new development that the industry has been able to throw against the wall to see what would stick, and remained on the top of the heap. Since most of the films on tap are world or international premieres, tens of thousands of industry professionals and an equal number of wannabes make the annual trek to the Croisette to network, see films, and crash some of the best parties of the year.
While not every film that premieres at Cannes goes on to a stellar career, it is the go-to place to test the pulse of the industry. Cannes 2012 is still on a high after premiering THE ARTIST last year, a silent French film that went all the way to the Oscars. Of course, many Cannes films crashed and burned during the year as well, but somehow the successes seem all the more influential and that makes the event an indispensable one for buyers and sellers in the marketplace. Aside from the glitter of the Festival fare, there is a parallel film market where less stellar fare is hawked and sold, adding to the event’s must-attend status.
Pilgrims to the semi-religious event are already talking up some of the high profile premieres from the likes of filmmakers Lee Daniels, Carlos Reygadas, Andrew Dominik, Abbas Kiarostami, Wes Anderson, Hong Sang-soo, and Ken Loach in the main competition lineup. Bernardo Bertolucci’s new film ME AND YOU, a dark tale about a young man helping his half-sister to beat heroin addiction, is screening out of competition. Two highly anticipated films will screen as midnight events: Japanese cult director Takashi Miike’s THE LEGEND OF LOVE AND SINCERITY and Italian horror master Dario Argento’s version of DRACULA. The Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Palme d’Or winner for his ghost parable UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, has a special screening for his new project, MEKONG HOTEL. Also returning to the main competition is Austrian director Michael Haneke’s latest AMOUR, with Festival favorite Isabelle Huppert playing a woman who has a volatile relationship with her elderly parents, played by screen veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. An oddball film that just might be one of the highlights this year is RUST AND BONE, a French/Quebec co-production adapted from the 2005 short story collection by the Canadian author Craig Davidson. The film stars Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in a tale about a bareknuckle fighter and someone who has lost their limbs to a whale being trained in a marine show park.
David Cronenberg has long been a favorite of Cannes, and his new film, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novella COSMOPOLIS follows a billionaire Wall Street trader on his strange journey through Manhattan in a stretch limo. The film stars TWILIGHT sensation Robert Pattinson, who apparently brings a vaguely vampiric aura to the leading role. Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, a Palme d’Or winner for his 1997 film TASTE OF CHERRY, returns with an intriguing-looking film set in Japan, his second fiction feature to be shot outside Iran. It’s the story of a young woman working as a prostitute and her relationship with a client. The sole British entry this year is by Ken Loach, who has been to Cannes with many of his films. He is back with THE ANGELS’ SHARE, a Scottish comedy written by longtime collaborator Paul Laverty. It’s about some guys in trouble with the law who find themselves involved in the whisky business. Also expect high buzz for Argentine director Walter Salles’ adaptation of the classic beat novel ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac. Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund play platonic buddies Sal and It, with Kristen Stewart on hand as the female “third wheel” in this intensely male odyssey.
Other films generating early buzz are THE HUNT, the latest from Danish dogma director Thomas Vinterberg, which stars Mads Mikkelsen as a divorced man in a small country town who is accused of abusing a child; DL, the newest film bonbon from French director Leos Carax; and PARADIES, a sure-to-be-controversial dramatic diptych about the strange journeys of a mother and daughter by Austrian auteur Ulrich Seidl. A new film from 89-year-old French film master Alain Resnais is an extraordinary achievement in and of itself. Screening in the competition section, YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING YET, a loose reworking of French playwright Jean Anouilh’s tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, features a group of actors gathered in the house of a dead dramatist, awaiting the reading of his will. The movie features a blue-chip French cast, including Michel Piccoli, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny and Lambert Wilson. The continued agility and wit of Resnais’s creativity is a marvel…..his presence at Cannes is always a treat. For more information on these and other films premiering, visit the website: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en/festival.html