Cannes: Fest Chief Thierry Fremaux Keeps Titles a Tightly Kept Secret

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Thierry Fremaux

"The Great Gatsby" will open the festival and Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" has been chosen to kick off the Un Certain Regard sidebar, but the rest of the lineup has been kept under wraps this year.

With the Cannes competition lineup set to be announced bright and early Thursday morning, one thing is indisputable: Never in recent memory has the lid of secrecy been kept so tightly on the titles in the lineup.

For whatever reason, Cannes majordomo Thierry Fremaux this year instructed the members of his selection committee not to speak with confidants about what they've been seeing, and reportedly even asked festival president Gilles Jacob to keep his lips sealed concerning the process.

CANNES: Sofia Coppola's 'The Bling Ring' to Open Un Certain Regard

For the many years that Jacob ran the show, he tended to accept or reject films as soon as he saw them, which meant that word got out about many competition titles quite early. With some high-profile exceptions, Fremaux prefers to see everything before making the final decisions, which leaves filmmakers in suspense virtually up to announcement day. It's also been common during the Fremaux years that one or more titles have been added even after the initial list has been made public.

The opening- and closing-night films, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, which will kick off the festival May 15, and Jerome Salle's Zulu are the only films in the Official Selection to have been announced in advance. Otherwise, the following American titles seem certain at this point: the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, James Gray's Nightingale, Steven Soderbergh's Beyond the Candelabra and, evidently, Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives. The latter reportedly was initially offered a midnight slot, which the producers rejected. When the Directors Fortnight then offered the film's producers its prestigious opening-night position, Fremaux evidently had second thoughts and invited it into the competition.

Today, Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring was announced as the opening-night attraction for the Un Certain Regard sidebar.

The only other films felt with certainty to be set for competition are Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's French production The Past, French favorite Arnaud Desplechin's U.S.-set Jimmy Picard, Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) from Italy and Japanese veteran Takashi Miike's urban thriller Straw Shield, which opens April 26 in Japan.

Fremaux and the committee are known only this week to have looked at Roman Polanski's French-language Venus in Fur, while Guillaume Canet's English-dialogued Blood Ties seems destined for an out-of-competition slot.

CANNES: Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom Thriller 'Zulu' to Close Festival

Strongly thought to be secure for showing somewhere at the festival are J.C. Chandor's ocean-set All Is Lost with Robert Redford, Francois Ozon's Jeune et Jolie (Young and Pretty), Claire Denis' The Bastards and James Toback's look at Cannes, Seduced and Abandoned, which was shot during last year's festival.

Any number of prominent films originally bandied about as likely Cannes contenders turned out not to be ready or were withheld by producers or distributors who preferred to wait for unveilings later in the year. Among these are Alexander Payne's Nebraska, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, Lee Daniels' The Butler, Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips, Steve McQueen's Twelve Years A Slave, Spike Jonze's Her, Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and Atom Egoyan's Devil's Knot.

No matter what, tomorrow's announcements will include some real surprises.