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CANNES 2021 (6-17 July) The films of the Official Selection The Cannes behemoth is back with 24 Palme d’Or hopefuls
by Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa 03/06/2021
16 filmmakers who have already taken part in the competition are battling it out with eight new entrants; 14 Europeans will be vying for Cannes’ coveted top prize.
On Thursday 3 June at 11am, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux presented the Official Selection of the 74th Festival de Cannes at the UGC Normandie in Paris.
Discover the list of selected films in Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out of Competition, Midnight Screenings, Cannes Premières, and Special Screenings, and download the press kit. ► Download the Press Kit 2021
An insatiable appetite and a sheer show of strength – after the pandemic forced it to go hungry in absentia in 2020, an unfortunate situation that was cushioned to a certain extent by its proprietary label, the Cannes Film Festival is preparing to roll up in grand style onto the Croisette for its 74th edition (6-17 July), brandishing a well-endowed official selection, showcasing the crème de la crème of current world arthouse cinema and stealing the limelight from its forthcoming rival events.
After having upended the order of things in the industry right up until the last minute, keeping professionals on their toes until the middle of the night yesterday, General Delegate Thierry Frémaux unveiled an extremely copious line-up at midday today in Paris, which takes in 24 features in competition.
Standing out among them are three former winners, with Italy’s Nanni Moretti (Palme d’Or in 2001 and Best Director Award in 1994 – his eighth time taking part in the competition), France’s Jacques Audiard (Palme d’Or in 2015, Grand Prix in 2009 and Best Screenplay Award in 1996 – his fifth time taking part) and Thaliand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Palme d’Or in 2010 – his third time taking part).
(Pathe International has unveiled the poster and trailer for Paul Verhoeven’s subversive period thriller “Benedetta.” Cannes also confirmed that the film will world premiere at this year’s festival on July 9 and will be released in French theaters on the same day.)
They are joined by 13 hopefuls who are already familiar with the dizzy heights of the Cannes competition, a cohort that sees highly reputed and established filmmakers rubbing shoulders with rising stars: Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (Best Screenplay Award in 2016 – third time taking part), Dutch helmer Paul Verhoeven(third time), the USA’s Sean Penn (third time), his fellow countryman Wes Anderson (second time), Chad’s Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Jury Prize in 2010 – third time), Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov (second time), Norway’s Joachim Trier (second time), Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi (second time), Australia’s Justin Kurzel (second time), and France’s Bruno Dumont (Grand Prix in 1999 and 2006 – fourth time), François Ozon (fourth time), Catherine Corsini (second time, following her first visit in 2001) and Leos Carax (third time, and whose film is set to open the festival).
Eight new entrants (all of whom have already made a big splash with their previous works) round off the enticing batch of Palme d’Or hunters, whose movies will be weighed up by the jury chaired by Spike Lee: Hungary’s Ildiko Enyedi (Golden Bear at Berlin in 2017), Finland’s Juho Kuosmanen, Belgium’s Joachim Lafosse, Morocco’s Nabil Ayouch, Israel’s Nadav Lapid (Golden Bear at Berlin in 2019), the USA’s Sean Baker, and France’s Mia Hansen-Løve and Julia Ducournau.
The list of titles on the menu could still be fleshed out in the coming days, with several films having been presented at the last minute (Park Chan-wook? Claire Denis? Gaspar Noé? Mamoru Hosoda?).
Titane by Julia Ducournau
Looking at the geographical side of things, Europe is clearly predominant on the 2021 competition line-up, with 14 titles in the running for the Palme d’Or: seven French helmers (Hansen-Løve, Ducournau, Corsini, Audiard, Dumont, Ozon and Carax – a pronounced increase over the normal number, which will probably set tongues wagging, but which simultaneously demonstrates the tremendous quality of French arthouse cinema and is a bonus in terms of the visibility conferred by Cannes upon a national film industry that has trudged on resiliently through the health crisis), one Italian (Moretti), one Hungarian (Enyedi), one Dutchman (Verhoeven), one Belgian (Lafosse), one Norwegian (Trier), one Finn (Kuosmanen) and one Russian (Serebrennikov).
Asia is pinning its hopes on four films (Weerasethakul, Farhadi, Hamaguchi and Lapid), while North America can only boast three representatives (Anderson, Penn and Baker) owing to a very low number of submissions (a consequence of the release schedules, the fall in production linked to the pandemic, and a platform-related policy that is not really compatible with the goal of protecting the movie theatres, something that is staunchly defended by Cannes).
(Annette by Leos Carax will open the Cannes Film Festival The new film from the French director, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, will open the 74th edition of the festival in competition)
Africa enjoys a strong presence with two contenders for the Palme d’Or (Haroun and Ayouch), and Oceania also has one film (Kurzel). Not one single movie from Latin America has made the cut, however. Lastly, it is worth noting that four female directors (three of whom are French) will be in competition this year.
Not particularly well stocked in terms of blockbusters, the Official Selection includes among its out-of-competition titles Stillwater by the USA’s Tom McCarthy, the documentary on the Velvet Underground by his fellow countryman Todd Haynes, and three French flicks (one of which is by Emmanuelle Bercot), plus the 18 films in Un Certain Regard (including features by Semih Kaplanoglu, Aleksey German Jr, Eskil Vogt, Valdimar Jóhannsson and so on), centring on young cinema and the most formally rigorous works that are keen to explore new styles (read news).
The brand-new Cannes Premiere showcase will present works by Arnaud Desplechin, Kornel Mundruczo, Hong San-soo, Andrea Arnold, Mathieu Amalric and Eva Husson out of competition at Debussy (read news).
Finally, among the Special Screenings we find, amongst others, the omnibus effort The Year of Everlasting Storm, plus docs helmed by Sergei Loznitsa, Oliver Stone, Karim Aïnouz and Charlotte Gainsbourg.