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The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival doesn’t kick off until May 17, and festival director Thierry Fremaux’s annual big reveal is still two months off. But already the buzz is beginning to build about films that could be in the running as Fremaux surveys the latest offerings on the world cinema scene. Of course, there’s always a question of which films will be finished in time and how a possible Cannes invite would fit into international release plans. But, with those caveats in mind, here are some of the most promising films from which the Cannes lineup could emerge:
In the Fade – Fatih Akin
Cannes regular Akin would seem a good bet for this year’s festival. The director’s long-gestating project, about a man tipped over the edge by prejudice and something he once described as an updated Taxi Driver, would also bring another festival favorite in Diane Kruger, starring in her first German-language film.
Barbara – Mathieu Amalric
After On Tour and The Blue Room, actor-director Amalric could score the Cannes triple with this musical biopic about legendary ‘60s French singer Barbara.
Valerian – Luc Besson
While it is slated to make its worldwide rollout in July, if Besson’s $200 million space epic, starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne and — yes — Rihanna, first makes a stop at Cannes, it will be the hottest ticket on the Croisette.
Les Gardiennes – Xavier Beauvois
The latest from the Of Gods and Men director is a WWI-period drama about a mother who, when her husband leaves to fight, hires a young women to help her with the family farm, only to cause problems with the family.
L’Atelier – Laurent Cantet
The director of 2008’s Palme d’Or winner The Class offers up another look at young people in education with this drama about a group taking part in a writing workshop that does not go as planned.
Annette – Leos Carax
After the inspired craziness of Holy Motors, Carax could return to Cannes with this drama, ostensibly about a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) who, after the death of his wife, finds himself alone with his strangely gifted two-year-old daughter.
The Beguiled – Sofia Coppola
Every even numbered film by Coppola has premiered in Cannes, meaning this eerie-looking remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 Southern Gothic — her eighth film, currently in postproduction and scheduled for a June 23 opening stateside — has the numbers on its side. Starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst, it could also be one of the festival’s key talking points.
Gauguin – Edouard Deluc
Vincent Cassel is Paul Gauguin in this biopic that looks at the artist’s self-exile to Tahiti and the woman that becomes his greatest muse.
12 Jours – Raymond Depardon
A new documentary about justice and psychiatry from the photographer and filmmaker Raymond Depardon, who has appeared in Cannes with such films as Journal de France, Modern Life and 10th District Court.
Fantomes D’Ismael – Arnaud Desplechin
Desplechin’s last three films premiered in Cannes and given the star cache on offer here — Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mathieu Amalric — it would be shock if Ismael’s Ghosts doesn’t follow suit.
Rodin – Jacques Doillon
Auguste Rodin biopic starring Vincent Lindon (The Measure of a Man) as the revolutionary French sculptor.
Jeannette – Bruno Dumont
After wowing Cannes — and French audiences — last year with Slack Bay, Dumont could have another crowd-pleaser with this Joan of Arc musical featuring a modern score from a electro-pop composer Igorrr.
Kings – Deniz Gamze Erguven
Erguven jumps from Turkey — site of her Oscar-nominated debut Mustang — to South Central L.A. for her second feature, a drama about a foster family set a few weeks before the Rodney King riots. Halle Berry and Daniel Craig star.
Tous Les Reves Du Monde – Laurence Barbosa Ferreira
A trio of interconnected stories set in present-day Burma that show how the Asian nation is rapidly transforming under the shadow of the west.
La Douleur – Emmanuel Finkiel
Based on the semi-autobiographical, and highly controversial, novel by French novelist Marguerite Duras about life during the Nazi occupation of France.
Marvin – Anne Fontaine
A loose adaptation of Edouard Louis’ hard-hitting autobiographical novel about a young man, shunned in his small town for being gay, who escapes to retell his story in a play that becomes a smash hit.
Victoria and Abdul – Stephen Frears
Working Title’s regal epic about Queen Victoria’s close friendship with her Muslim attendant could be perfect Cannes fodder, with lead star Judi Dench bringing the red-carpet sophistication (and Eddie Izzard — probably — a beret). But Focus’ September release could make it a candidate for a Venice reveal.
Maryline – Guillaume Gallienne
Vanessa Paradis stars in this drama about an actress who escapes an alcoholic mother and a violent father and flees to Paris to try and make it in films.
L’Amant d’un Jour – Philippe Garrel
Esther Garrel stars as a young woman who returns to live with her father after a bad breakup, only to find him together with a woman the same age as she is.
Image et Parole – Jean-Luc Godard
While many might be hoping the latest from the 86-year-old French provocateur will be heading to Cannes (three years after his 3D experimental epic Goodbye to Language played the fest), according to Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval, the film — shot across various Arab countries over the past two years — won’t be completed in time.
La Villa – Robert Guediguian
Another Cannes veteran, Guediguian centers his 20th film on three siblings who gather around their father’s deathbed and ponder what will become of the small paradise he has built around a modest seaside restaurant.
Happy End – Michael Haneke
Reuniting Amour’s Isabelle Huppert — currently riding a crest of acclaim for Elle — and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Haneke’s latest would surely be the bookmakers’ favorite for the Palme, making the Austrian auteur the only person ever to win three (and with three consecutive films). The drama centers on a family in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop. Happy end? Unlikely.
Une Saison en France – Mahamat Saleh Haroun
No stranger to the Croisette (two films in competition and two times on the jury), Chadian filmmaker Haroun could add some poignancy to this year’s proceedings with his latest film, revolving around a high-school teacher who fled conflict in Africa with two young children only to have his asylum request in France turned down after two years of waiting.
Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes
Two years after seeing Carol delight the Cannes critics (although the momentum couldn’t be maintained into awards season), Haynes newest film stars Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Amy Hargreaves and reunites the director with Carol producer Christine Vachon. Amazon is backing the project, based on Brian Selznick’s book.
Le Redoutable – Michel Hazanavicius
The Artist director tells the true story of how 17-year-old Anne Wiazemsky was wooed by and later married director Godard during the making of La Chinoise in 1967.
Hikari – Naomi Kawase
Japanese director Kawase has been coming to Cannes since the ‘90s, becoming the youngest winner of the Camera d’Or in 1997, competing for the Grand Prix in 2007, the main competition in 2011 and 2013, Un Certain Regard in 2014 and twice appearing on juries. So, it’s fair to say it’d be something of a shock if her latest film wasn’t invited by Fremaux.
Mektoub Is Mektoub – Abdellatif Kechiche
Kechiche’s follow-up to his Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color is an adaptation of Antoine Begaudeau’s novel La blessure, la vraie, about a young screenwriter forced to choose between love and his career.
24 Frames – Abbas Kiarostami
It would be a fitting tribute to the Iranian master and two-time Palm-winner if his final experimental film — which had been working on when he passed away in July 2016 — was invited to Cannes, the festival that arguably loved him more than any other.
Plonger – Melanie Laurent
The latest from actress-director Laurent is crime noir focused on a New Orleans hitman diagnosed with lung cancer who goes on the run with a hooker and her baby sister, determined to get his own back on his mobster boss before the cancer, or the mob, does him in.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos
Given that the festival helped propel him into the mainstream (well, sort of) with The Lobster two years ago, Greece’s increasingly in-demand king of peculiar may aim for Cannes with his next offering, a psychological drama about a charismatic surgeon and a sinister boy that reunites him with Colin Farrell and also stars Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone.
A Gentle Creature – Sergei Loznitsa
Ukrainian director Loznitsa returns to drama (his acclaimed doc Maidan exploring the 2013 protests in Kiev screened in Cannes in 2014) with this feature, loosely inspired by Dostoyevsky’s short story A Gentle Creature about a woman who travels to a prison in a remote region to track down her incarcerated husband.
The Price of Success – Teddy Lussi-Modeste
Six years after his last (and debut) feature, Jimmy Riviere, Grenoble-born Lussi-Modeste is ready to unveil his next film, about a comedian whose relationship with his family crumbles as his career takes off.
Demain Et Tous Les Autres Jours – Noemie Lvovsky
Following Lvovsky’s Directors’ Fortnight entry Camille Redoubled in 2012 comes this drama about a girl living alone with her mother, who is on the verge of dementia.
Zama Lucrecia – Martel
It’s been almost a decade since Latin America’s most prominent female director brought a film to Cannes, and this long-awaited epic — backed by Pedro Almodovar — could be a triumphant return. Adapted from the famed novel by Antonio di Benedetto and an eight-country co-production, Zama is set toward the end of the 18th century as an office for the Spanish Empire stationed in Paraguay awaits word from the king on his long-awaited transfer to Spain.
Lola Pater – Nadir Mokneche
French favorite Fanny Ardent stars in this drama that follows a man who, after burying his Algerian immigrant mother in Paris, discovers that his father didn’t, as he had been told, return to Algeria when they broke up.
Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan
With its U.S. release not due until July 21, Warners may want to keep its powder dry for Nolan’s hotly anticipated all-star retelling of the famed 1940 WWII evacuation. But if it does come to the Croisette, expect absolute carnage. Two words: Harry Styles.
The Square – Ruben Ostlund
After Force Majeure became an international hit after bowing in Cannes in 2014, all eyes will be on Swedish director Ostlund to see what he rustles up next. The Square centers on a museum manager who hires a PR company to create a buzz around a new installation, with unfortunate consequences. Expect sublime awkwardness.
L’Amant Double – Francois Ozon
The latest from Cannes regular Ozon is an erotic thriller about a depressed woman who falls in love with her therapist but uncovers dark secrets about his identity.
D’Apres Une Histoire Vraie – Roman Polanski
Sony Pictures Classics has already secured North American rights to this French-language thriller, which stars Emmanuelle Seigner as a Parisian author with writer’s block who encounters a mysterious woman at a book signing (Eva Green).
Les Carnivores – Jeremie Renier
Renier may be better known for roles in In Bruges and The Kid With a Bike, but the Belgian actor has united up with brother Yannick to co-direct his debut feature, a comedy about an actress who leaves her family in France and escapes to Spain.
The Racer and the Jailbird – Michael Roskam
Adele Exarchopoulos and Matthias Schoenaerts team for Roskam’s first feature since The Drop (also starring Schoenaerts). Set amid the fast-paced world of racing, a high-flying Brussels gangster falls for a young female racing driver with upper-class roots. Neon recently picked up U.S. rights.
Claire’s Camera – Hong Sang-Soo
The Isabelle Huppert steam train doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon, with the Oscar-nominee also starring in Korean filmmaker Sang-Soo’s latest drama about a part-time teacher and writer.
Where Life Begins – Carlos Reygadas
Mexican auteur Reygadas has debuted each of his previous four features in Cannes (winning a jury award and best director award along the way), so there’s no reason to suspect he won’t be bringing his fifth, a “cowboy story” about open relationships set among Mexico’s fighting bull-breeding ranches.
Alien: Covenant – Ridley Scott
Scott’s Prometheus–Alien bridge builder could offer a much welcome explosive reprieve from the art house offerings, while also providing some major red-carpet material from Michael Fassbender, James Franco and Katherine Waterston. But with its French release date currently listed as May 10 (in advance of a May 19 U. S. opening), there might have to be some reshuffling to get it into the Cannes line-up.
Luxembourg – Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
Slaboshpitsky’s violent silent film The Tribe was one of the standouts of Cannes in 2014, meaning many will be eager to see the Ukrainian director’s next film, shot in the Chernobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zone and about a band of survivors struggling to piece together civilization after a devastating atomic conflict.
Invisible – Danis Tanovic
Clive Owen and Jessica Biel add some star power to the Oscar-winning Bosnian filmmaker’s latest, a story of class and identity that sees an unfulfilled couple with perfect existences collide with a group who have travelled to London to seek a better life.
Nos Annees Folles – Andre Techine
Techine looks likely to return to Cannes competition (for the seventh time) with this true tale of a WWI solider who deserts and, to hide from the firing squad, lives as a woman for a decade.
The Song of the Scorpions -– Anup Singh
After starring in Paterson last year, Golshifteh Farahani could see her star given another boost should Song of the Scorpions get a Cannes launchpad. The actress stars alongside The Lunchbox’s Irrfan Khan as a shaman woman traveling the deserts of India’s Rajasthan.
Emma – Silvio Soldini
Five years after his last drama, Italian director Soldini returns with this story of an advertising executive who falls in love with a blind woman.
Thelma – Joachim Trier
Two years after he competed for the Palme with Louder than Bombs, Norwegian helmer Trier could return with this markedly different offering, a supernatural thriller about a Norwegian student who discovers she has inexplicable powers.
The Leisure Seeker – Paolo Virzi
Announced last Cannes, this road movie starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland would show some impressive horsepower to complete the journey just 12 months later (and would be a two-in-two for director Virzi). Based on Michael Zadoorian’s book — described as “Easy Rider meets The Notebook” — the story follows two 70-somethings who cross the U.S. in a Winnebago against the warnings of their doctors and children.
Submergence – Wim Wenders
Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy would keep the flashbulbs busy were Wenders to return to Cannes for the first time since his acclaimed doc Salt of the Earth in 2014. Based on J.M. Ledgard’s book, the romantic thriller sees two lovers – one a jihadi hostage survivor and the other an underwater explorer (and why not?) – find solace in the memories of their brief, but intense relationship.
Fleuve Noir – Erick Zonca
Being 17 actress Sandrine Kiberlain plays a mother whose son vanishes in this drama from The Dreamlife of Angels filmmaker. Co-starring Gerard Depardieu and Romain Duris.
Loveless – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Zvyagintsev will be hoping to replicate the success he had with Leviathan, which went from a best screenplay award in Cannes in 2014 to numerous wins around the world (and an Oscar nomination). The story for Loveless centers on a divorcing couple forced to team up to find their son who disappeared during one of their bitter arguments.
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