'Money Monster,' 'The BFG,' 'The Nice Guys' Among Cannes 2016 Lineup

MONEY MONSTER still - Julia Roberts - H 2016
Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

Jeff Nichols' 'Loving' and Nicholas Winding Refn's 'The Neon Demon' will screen in competition.

Jeff Nichols' interracial romance Loving will compete in Cannes this year, alongside Park Chan Wook's The Handmaid, Sean Penn's latest The Last Face and Daniel Blake, the latest, and maybe last, feature from British veteran Ken Loach.

Nicholas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, a feature made for Amazon, also secured a Cannes competition slot. It will go up against Family Photos from Palme d'Or winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Sieranevada from fellow Romanian director Cristi Puiu, Paul Verhoven's Elle and two Filipino films, Aquarius from Kleber Mendonça Filho and Ma Rosa from Brillante Mendoza.

Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux and president Pierre Lescure on Thursday unveiled the event's full lineup at a press conference in Paris. Fremaux gave an indication of the mammoth task the festival underwent in its selection process.

"We saw 1,869 features films to obtain a selection of 49 films,” he said. “Last year, it was 1,850; 1,830 the year before; 1,500 in 2010; and 1,000 10, 15 years ago. With the digital era, the number of films we receive increases each year. The democratic principle on which Cannes is based is that everyone has the right to send a film and it will be screened. Out of these 1,869 films, not all were brilliant, but they were all screened.”

Among other titles that made the cut this year was Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World, starring Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel. It's the second film from the young Canadian director (following 2014's Grand Jury winner Mommy) to screen in Cannes' competition lineup. Jim Jarmusch, another Cannes regular, returns this year with his latest, Paterson, featuring Adam Driver. 

Pedro Almodovar's Julieta, Andrea Arnold's American Honey, The Unknown Girl from Belgium's Dardenne brothers and Olivier Assayas' Personal Shopper all made the Cannes competition cut, as did Slack Bay from French director Bruno Dumond, Staying Vertical from Alain Guiraudie and Nicole Garcia's From the Land of the Moon. Marie Ade's Toni Erdmann, the first German film to compete in Cannes in many years, closes out the 20-film competition lineup.

Perhaps preempting the annual criticism that seems to follow Cannes' lineup announcement — that the festival is too-Eurocentric and not sufficiently diverse — Fremaux noted that the 49 films picked for the official selection represent a total of 28 countries. "Which shows how much we care about the universality of cinema," he said. "Even though the festival takes place in France, it is not a French festival. It is an international festival.”

For the first time this year, Cannes' closing film will be the winner of the Palme d'Or. Fremaux called the decision "an experiment," acknowledging that closing films in the past have often not gotten the attention they deserved, because so much of the press corps has left town before the final screening.

Woody Allen’s star-studded Cafe Society was previously announced as the opening film for the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Allen's new film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively and Kristen Stewart, was also picked up by Amazon. Together with Neon Demon, they are the first films from streaming companies to get official screenings in Cannes.

Steven Spielberg's The BFG, featuring Mark Rylance as the voice of the titular Big Friendly Giant, will screen out of competition at this year's fest.

Jodie Foster's Money Monster starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, Shane Black's The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and Korean mystery thriller Goksung (The Wailing) from director Na Hong-Jin also will receive out-of-competition slots this year.

Iggy Pop could make the trip to the Croisette this year, as Jarmusch's documentary Gimme Danger, which looks at the singer and his legendary punk band, The Stooges, has also made the cut, out of competition. Gimme Danger will get a Midnight Screening slot in Cannes, as will Train to Busan from Yeon Sang-Ho.

Other special, out-of-competition screenings include The Last Resort from Thanos Anastopoulos and Davide Del Degan; Hissein Habre, A Chadian Tragedy from helmer Mahamet-Saleh Haroun of Chad; Cambodian film Exil from director Rithy Panh; The Last Days of Louis XIV from Albert Serra; and Paul Vecchiali's The Cancer.

The festival's Un Certain Regard sidebar will include Iranian drama Inversion and The Dancer from French director Stephanie Di Giusto and starring Johnny Depp's daughter Lily Rose Melody Depp and Her actress Soko. Mohammed Diab's Clash, animated feature The Red Turtle, Japanese drama Personal Affairs, Hirokazu Koreeda's After the Storm, Argentine film The Long Night from Francisco Marquez, Dogdan Mirica's Dogs, Russian drama The Disciple and Captain Fantastic starring Viggo Mortensen are also among the Un Certain Regard highlights this year.

Fremaux kicked off the announcement at a theater on the French capital's famous Champs Elysees just after 11 a.m. local time. The press conference was delayed by a silent protest by film theater workers and students against proposed reforms to France's labor laws. Before starting the press conference, Fremaux and Lescure expressed their support for the protesters.

Lescure also spoke to questions of security at the festival in the wake of last November's terrorist attacks in Paris and the suicide bombings in Brussels earlier this year.

“We have staffed up with 599 security staff who are highly experienced,” he said, adding that the festival will be collaborating on a daily basis with local and regional authorities to provide "the best possible" security measures.

As previously announced, Mad Max director George Miller will serve as president of the jury, and jury prize winner Naomi Kawase is set to head the short film and student competition jury. The full competition jury is expected to be announced next week, with the Un Certain Regard jury set to be revealed during the first week of May.

The poster for this year's edition takes inspiration from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film about the film business, Contempt.

The Cannes Film Festival is set to run May 11-22.

Official Selection for the 69th Cannes International Film Festival

Opening film: Cafe Society, director: Woody Allen (out of competition)

American Honey, director: Andrea Arnold
Aquarius, director: Kleber Mendonça Filho
Daniel Blake, director: Ken Loach
Elle, director: Paul Verhoven
Family Photos, director: Cristian Mungiu
From the Land of the Moon, director: Nicole Garcia
Gimme Danger, director: Jim Jarmusch (out of competition)
Goksung, director: Na Hong-Jin (out of competition)
It's Only the End of the World, director: Xavier Dolan
Julieta, director: Pedro Almodovar
Loving, director: Jeff Nichols
Ma Rosa, director: Brillante Mendoza
Money Monster, director: Jodie Foster (out of competition)
Paterson, director: Jim Jarmusch
Personal Shopper, director: Olivier Assayas
Sieranevada, director: Cristi Puiu
Slack Bay, director: Bruno Dumond
Staying Vertical, director: Alain Guiraudie
The BFG, director: Steven Spielberg (out of competition)
The Handmaid, director: Park Chan Wook
The Last Face, director: Sean Penn
The Neon Demon, director: Nicholas Winding Refn
The Nice Guys, director: Shane Black (out of competition)
The Unknown Girl, directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Toni Erdmann, director: Marie Ade

Un Certain Regard
Apprentice, director: Junfeng Boo
After The Storm, director: Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Beyond the Mountains and Hills, director: Eran Kolirin
Captain Fantastic, director: Matt Ross
Clash, director: Mohamed Diab
Dogs, director: Bogdan Mirica
Francisco Sanctis’s Long Night, directors: Francisco Marquez, Andrea Testa
Harmonium, director: Koji Fukada
Inversion, director: Behnam Behzadi
Pericle Il Nero, director: Stefano Mordini
Personal Affairs, director: Maha Haj
Red Turtle, director: Michael Dudok de Wit
The Dancer, director: Stéphanie di Giusto
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, director: Juho Kuosmanen
The Stopover, directors: Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin
The Student, director: Kirill Serebrennikov
The Transfiguration, director: Michael O’Shea

Special Screenings (out of competition)
Exil, director: Rithy Panh
Hissein Habre, a Chadian Tragedy, director: Mahamet-Saleh Haroun
The Cancer, director: Paul Vecchiali
The Last Days of Louis XIV, director: Albert Serra
The Last Resort, directors: Thanos Anastopoulos, Davide del Degan