VARDA FOREVER: If you look closely, you can just about make out her signature bowl haircut.
For its 72nd edition, running from May 14 to 25, Cannes Film Festival has chosen to pay homage to French filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died on March 29, making her the first female director to be immortalized on a Cannes Film Festival poster.
The photo chosen for the poster, taken in August 1954 as Varda was directing her first film “La Pointe Courte” at just 26 years old, depicts the filmmaker crouching on a collaborator’s back to get the perfect shot.
“You can feel the strength of her engagement: she would do everything to create, everything to overcome hurdles,” said festival president Pierre Lescure, speaking at the presentation of the Official Selection lineup for the 2019 edition of the festival, held on Thursday at the UGC Normandie cinema on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
There are four female directors in this year’s lineup out of the 19 competing for the Palme d’Or, one more than the 2018 selection.
Among these are French-Senegalese director Mati Diop presenting her debut “Atlantiques,” set in a suburb of Dakar, and Austrian director Jessica Hausner’s “Little Joe.” Two French directors complete the female lineup: Céline Sciamma with “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” starring Adèle Haenel of “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” fame, and Justine Triet with “Sibyl,” starring Virginie Efira and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
But Lescure and Thierry Frémaux, artistic director of the event, stressed that 13 women are part of the global selection, which includes the “Un Certain Regard” competition, and that for the first time, this year’s selection committee was split between four men and four women.
Chloë Sevigny stars in the opening film of this year’s festival, Jim Jarmusch’s zombie flick “The Dead Don’t Die,” alongside Bill Murray and Adam Driver. The film is also one of the 19 competing titles for the Palme d’Or, and will exceptionally be shown in over 400 movie theaters in France on the opening night of the festival, following a live broadcast of the ceremony.
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is also part of the lineup with his latest release “Pain and Glory,” alongside two-time Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach, presenting “Sorry We Missed You,” and Canadian director Xavier Dolan, presenting and starring in his new film “Matthias & Maxime.”
Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in America” was absent from the selection, but Frémaux hopes the film, which is still being edited, might be finished in time to join the selection and premiere at Cannes.
Two episodes from Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Too Old to Die Young” Amazon Prime series will be shown out of competition, in compliance with the festival’s position on not allowing any films that are not shown in cinemas into the official selection.
One of the most anticipated guests to walk the red carpet will be Elton John, the subject of English director Dexter Fletcher’s biopic “Rocketman,” which will be unveiled at Cannes on May 16. An honorary Palme d’Or will be delivered to French actor Alain Delon, who starred in more than 80 films including “La Piscine” in 1969.
This year’s jury president is Alejandro González Iñárritu, the first Mexican director to ever have been chosen for the role. The full jury for the 72nd edition of the festival will be disclosed in the next couple of weeks.