With 20 filmmakers set to compete for the Palme d’Or this year, the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival looks like it’s going to be as intriguing, fun and unpredictable as ever.
Opening on Wednesday 11 May with Woody Allen’s latest offering Café Society, the Competition line-up takes on a darker tone with exciting new films by the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Nicolas Winging Refn, Jeff Nicholl, Park Chan-wook and Brillante Mendoza to name but a few.
Following up his brilliant Only God Forgives which screened in Cannes in 2013, we especially look forward to Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film The Neon Demon, which the Danish director has described as ‘a horror film about vicious beauty’. Back in Competition for an eighth time, Jim Jarmusch will premiere his bus-driver drama Paterson, and also present his Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger in a special screening slot.
After premiering his sci-fi thriller Midnight Special at the Berlinale in February, Jeff Nicholl has already completed his next film. Loving stars his long-term collaborator Michael Shannon alongside Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the inter-racial couple Mildred and Richard Loving, who were jailed in Virginia in 1958 for breaking state laws by getting married.
Set in colonial Korea in the 1930s, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is based on Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith. Other literary adaptations include Xavier Dolan’s star-studded Only The End of The World, an adaptation of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play about a terminally ill writer who returns home after a long absence, and Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, based on a thriller by Philippe Djian and starring Isabelle Huppert as a businesswoman who is attacked at her home one night and decides to stalk her assailant back.
Olivier Assayas’s second English-language feature Personal Shopper has been described as ‘a ghost story set in the fashion world’ and plays alongside other promising titles such as Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing, a highly anticipated Korean blockbuster about a detective and a shaman, Scottish director David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water and Sierra-Nevada, the latest film from Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu.
In comparison, this year’s Un Certain Regard strand looks slightly weaker than usual, but there are two Japanese titles to look out for, Koju Fukada’s Harmonium and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After The Storm as well as Singapore filmmaker Boo Jungeng’s Apprentice, described as a morbid prison drama that explores the relationship between the prison’s chief and a young correctional officer. Promising a vampire romance along the lines of Let the Right One In, Michael O’Shea’s debut feature The Transfiguration also looks worth checking out.
In the Directors’ Fortnight, Alejandro Jodorowsky will present Endless Poetry the second film of a trilogy that began with The Dance of Reality, while Pablo Larraín reunites with Gael García Bernal for political thriller Neruda.
Unfortunately, Ben Wheatley’s latest offering Free Fire didn’t seem to have made the selection, but there is still enough on offer to make this 69th edition a really exciting one.