SIGN OF THE TIMES: “The world will never be the same — and the Cannes Film Festival will never be the same,” said Thierry Frémaux, artistic director of the event, referring to the “storm” that has swept through the industry ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last October.
Frémaux was speaking at the presentation of the Official Selection lineup for the 71st edition of the festival, held on Thursday at the UGC Normandie cinema on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris. The lineup eschews star vehicles in favor of art-house offerings that tackle topics such as racism and religion.
The festival this year will open nine days earlier — on May 8 — and for the first time will wrap on a Saturday, May 19, the same day as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.
Amidst the industry’s ongoing efforts to address gender inequality, organizers hope to send a message of love, starting with the choice of this year’s festival poster. It depicts a scene from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 classic “Pierrot le Fou” with the movie’s leads — Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina — leaning out of two adjacent parked cars and locked in an embrace.
The poster also subtly nods to the 50th anniversary of the May ’68 student revolt, and Godard as its spiritual embodiment. (The octogenarian director this year also has a film in competition, “The Image Book.”)
The poster — based on a photo by Georges Pierre — is the work of graphic designer Flore Maquin, a film buff who works with leading studios, revisiting or creating alternatives for film posters. “It represents joy, liberty and exuberance,” said festival president Pierre Lescure.
Looking to safeguard the event’s legacy as the home of auteur cinema, selfies on the red carpet are banned, Frémaux confirmed, explaining that it’s partly for technical reasons, as it creates congestion — “people trip over and fall down the steps, it’s not a pretty sight” – and partly out of respect for tradition, to honor what Cannes is known for: “desire, mystery and a certain notion of elegance.”
“It’s pointless and it’s disrespectful,” said Lescure. Frémaux added: “We come to Cannes to see and not to be seen.”
The official selection, which is still to be completed, promises not to be too starry, either, with a focus on rising international directors like Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher.
Spike Lee, who will be returning to the festival for the first time in more than 20 years, will present “BlackkKlansman,” starring Adam Driver, Topher Grace and Laura Harrier, and based on the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan.
David Robert Mitchell’s “Under the Silver Lake,” starring Andrew Garfield, also made the cut.
Two-time Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s movie, “Everybody Knows,” a psychological thriller starring Spanish power couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, and shot entirely in Spanish, will open and compete in the festival.
Cate Blanchett will preside over this year’s jury, but a balanced representation of gender is never part of the selection process for the films, according to Frémaux. “We have no agenda, no editorial line when selecting the films, each film is selected for its own merit,” he said.
Three of the films in competition were helmed by female directors.
Benicio Del Toro will head the jury of the parallel section Un Certain Regard, while Chloë Sevigny will be on the jury of the 57th Cannes Critics’ Week, which will award a new prize, the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award, to an actor or actress from one of the competition’s features.
French actor and director Édouard Baer is this year’s master of ceremonies.
Set to be presented out of competition, Disney/Lucasfilm’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” will have its premiere at the festival before opening in France on May 23 and in the United States two days later. With Alden Ehrenreich in the role of Han Solo, the cast includes Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany.
Anniversaries being feted this year will include the 30th anniversary of the Luc Besson classic “The Big Blue.”
Cannes Classics on May 12 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” with the world premiere of an unrestored 70mm print of the science fiction epic. Introduced by filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who will present a Cannes Masterclass on May 13, the screening will also be attended by members of Kubrick’s family, including his daughter Katharina and brother-in-law Jan Harlan.
Commenting on Netflix pulling out of the festival following the decision by organizers to only accept films with planned options for a theatrical release in France, Frémaux said: “Netflix is welcome to Cannes and we will keep an open dialogue.” Netflix last year presented two works at the event: Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Bong Joon-Ho’s “Okja,” starring Tilda Swinton, which was in competition.
The event’s midnight screenings will include Joe Penna’s “Arctic,” starring Mads Mikkelsen.
Special screenings showing out of competition will include the Wim Wenders documentary “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” which is scheduled for the Sunday. Though don’t expect the cast to turn out. “We can’t guarantee that the pope will be walking the red carpet,” quipped Lescure.