The Cannes Film Festival on Thursday announced its schedule for its 75th edition. The world’s most prestigious annual cinematic gathering, held in the South of France, will bring together some heavyweight auteurs in competition and some huge stars out — notably Tom Cruise, who had already been revealed to be bringing the hugely anticipated sequel Top Gun: Maverick to Cannes.
Closer to home, Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider will play in competition. The film, which was shot in Jordan, may cause consternation, with a plot that follows a man who is determined to follow his own religious quest — to "cleanse" the holy Iranian city of Mashhad of immorality and corruption. Abbassi previously made Border, the strange, beguiling fairy tale that first appeared in Cannes in 2018 in the Un Certain Regard section. Iranian cinema will also feature in competition with Leila's Brothers, directed by Saeed Roustayi, who previously made 2016’s Life and a Day.
During the press conference, the festival’s artistic director, Thierry Fremaux, said that the line-up is yet to be complete. “There are many, many good films coming out of Maghreb-North Africa,” he said.
The line-ups for Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight sidebars are set to be unveiled next week. Among those expected to be part of the Critics’ Week selection is Le Barrage from Lebanon’s Ali Cherri, a Beirut-born artist who became the Artist in Residence at London’s National Gallery in 2021. A political fable set around the Sudanese revolution, the film follows a worker who secretly builds a mysterious mud construction by the Nile.
Cannes has returned to its traditional May slot — after last year’s event took place in July, moved there to escape the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic — and organisers are keen to emphasise that it is back to its best. “All the red carpets that we will have, they will be fantastic,” remarked Fremaux, and it’s hard to disagree, with films starring the likes of Woody Harrelson, Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton all set to be showcased.
More importantly, the official selection looks like a robust line-up. “155 different countries submitted films — not far away from the UN,” noted Fremaux in his address to the world’s media. Unsurprisingly, the festival will open with a French director, Michel Hazanavicius, who previously launched his Oscar-winning film The Artist in Cannes. His zombie comedy Z (also known as Final Cut), a remake of the 2017 Japanese film One Cut of the Dead, and starring Romain Duris and Berenice Bejo, will kick proceedings off on Tuesday, May 17.
Among the competition entries that will by vying for prizes are four former winners of Cannes’ coveted Palme d’Or. Japan’s Hirokazu Koreeda will return, four years after winning for Shoplifters, with Broker, a Korean-set story about boxes that are left out for people to leave their unwanted babies in.
Two-time Palme d’Or-winners, the Dardenne brothers, are also back with Tori and Lokita, depicting the friendship between a young boy and girl who arrive in Belgium from Africa. Ruben Ostlund, whose second film The Square won in 2017, returns with the satirical comedy Triangle of Sadness, with Harrelson co-starring. Romania’s Cristian Mungiu, whose harrowing abortion tale 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days took Cannes’ top award in 2007, brings RMN to the festival.
Other key directors announced include South Korea’s Park Chan-wook, who previously launched the visceral 2003 revenge drama Oldboy in Cannes. His new movie, Decision to Leave, tells the story of a detective who falls for a mysterious widow. Claire Denis, hot off her Best Director win in Berlin for Both Sides of the Blade, will also compete with The Stars at Noon, a romantic thriller set in Nicaragua in 1984 and starring Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn.
North American cinema is also well represented in the selection. James Gray’s coming-of-age tale Armageddon Time, starring Hathaway and Anthony Hopkins, will compete alongside Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up, which stars her regular go-to actress Michelle Williams. Certainly, the suggestion is the latter will be in keeping with her miniature-scale films. “Can we call it a small film?” mused Fremaux. “No. It’s a way of saying she is inventing the cinema of de-growth.”
There had been rumours trending on social media of a secret David Lynch film — his first feature since 2006’s Inland Empire — until he flat-out denied it to Entertainment Weekly. But there is the return of another David. Crimes of the Future marks David Cronenberg’s first movie since 2014’s Maps to the Stars, which also played in the Cannes competition. Given most felt the Canadian-born Cronenberg had effectively retired from film-making — instead taking up novel-writing — it’s a huge delight to see him back. The film features Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen, who plays an avant-garde artist who uses his own organs for his work.
Keeping its mandate to recognise film-makers across the world, the festival has also selected Saim Sadiq’s Joyland. Playing in the Un Certain Regard strand, it’s the first film from Pakistan to ever make the official selection. Sadiq’s movie will line up against a diverse selection including films from Costa Rica (Domingo and the Mist, by Ariel Escalante Meza) and Cambodia (All the People I’ll Never Be, by Davy Chou).
Playing out of competition, there were some surprise reveals including Ethan Coen’s first film without his brother Joel, the documentary portrait Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind.
Director Brett Morgen, who previously made the Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck, is also back with another musical icon story: Moonage Daydream. Focusing on the legendary David Bowie, it will feature a wealth of archive footage, much of which has never been seen before.
As for Hollywood studio projects, already announced was Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, a biopic of Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler as the king of rock ’n’ roll and Tom Hanks as his Svengali-like manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Also confirmed was a movie by another Australian filmmaker that had been long-rumoured to play at the festival: George Miller’s fantasy-romance Three Thousand Years of Longing, which stars Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Miller previously opened Cannes in 2015 with his last film, the much-loved Mad Max: Fury Road. This year’s road to Cannes, however, looks to be just as fabulously furious.
The Cannes Film Festival runs from Tuesday, May 17 to Saturday, May 28