Cannes Film Fest 2015: Starry Line-Up

Star-studded English-language dramas from Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Denis Villeneuve, Yorgos Lanthimos and Justin Kurzel will compete for the Palme d’Or alongside new films by Valerie Donzelli, Jacques Audiard, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhangke at the 68th annual Cannes Film Fest, which unveiled its official selection lineup on Thursday.

U.S. studio/specialty fare will be well represented out of competition with world-premiere screenings of Woody Allen’ss “Irrational Man,” George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” and Pixar’s latest toon extravaganza “Inside Out.” Another animated feature, Mark Osborne’s English-lingo adaptation of “The Little Prince,” will also screen out of competition.

The official selection lineup was announced by festival delegate general Thierry Fremaux at a press conference in Paris on Thursday morning.

Seventeen films were unveiled in competition and 14 in Un Certain Regard, although Fremaux noted there would be more films added to the lineup in the coming days.

OPENING NIGHT

“La Tete haute” (Emmanuelle Bercot, France).

Screening out of competition, Bercot’s fourth feature (which she co-wrote with Marcia Romano) follows the troubled upbringing of a boy named Malony (Rod Paradot), and also stars Catherine Deneuve appearing as a juvenile judge who tries to intervene in his life. As either actress or director, Bercot is no stranger to Cannes: Her 2001 helming debut, “Clement,” made its premiere in Un Certain Regard, and she also won prizes at the festival for her short films “Les Vacances” (1997) and “La Puce” (1999). (Sales: Elle Driver)

COMPETITION

“The Assassin” (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan). This Tang Dynasty-era martial-arts epic, starring Shu Qi and Chang Chen (the lovers in Hou’s “Three Times”), is the Taiwanese auteur’s first film since “Flight of the Red Balloon,” which opened the festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2007.

It will be his seventh time in competition, after 1993’s “The Puppetmaster” (which received a jury prize), “Good Men, Good Women” (1995), “Goodbye, South, Goodbye” (1996), “Flowers of Shanghai” (1998), “Millennium Mambo” (2001) and “Three Times” (2007).

(Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Carol” (Todd Haynes, U.S.-U.K.).

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel about a lonely young department-store clerk who falls for an elegant older woman in 1950s New York. Haynes’ recent films (“Far From Heaven,” “I’m Not There”) have played the fall festival circuit, and this latest drama, which the Weinstein Co. is releasing Stateside this fall, will mark his first appearance at Cannes since 1998’s “Velvet Goldmine,” which received a prize for artistic contribution from the jury.

(Sales: HanWay Films)

“Erran” (Jacques Audiard, France). Audiard has proven himself a specialist in gritty stories from Paris’ underbelly, and his latest, already acquired by IFC’s Sundance Selects for Stateside release, stars Vincent Rottiers as a Sri Lankan Tamil fighter working as a caretaker on a council estate in the city. Audiard was previously in competition with 1996’s “A Self-Made Hero” (which won a screenplay prize), 2009’s “A Prophet” (which received the Grand Prix), and 2012’s “Rust and Bone.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“The Lobster” (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece-U.K.-Ireland-Netherlands-France).

Lanthimos won the 2009 Un Certain Regard prize for his attention-grabbing “Dogtooth,” and wound up bypassing a second Un Certain Regard slot in favor of a Venice competition berth for “Alps” (2011). This time, he cracks the big leagues with a love story set in a dystopian future where single people are arrested and forced to find a mate within 45 days.

Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman, Lea Seydoux and John C. Reilly star in the mostly Irish-financed production. (Sales: Protagonist Pictures)

“Our Little Sister” (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan).

A strong Japanese female cast, led by Masami Nagasawa, Haruka Ayase and Suzu Hirose, headlines this adaptation of Akimi Yoshida’s popular serialized comic about four sisters living in the eponymous city. Kore-eda received a jury prize and an ecumenical prize at Cannes just two years ago for “Like Father, Like Son,” and he was also in competition with “Nobody Knows” (2004) and “Distance” (2001).  His 2009 film “Air Doll” premiered in Un Certain Regard. (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Louder Than Bombs” (Joachim Trier, Norway-France-Denmark). 

Trier was previously in Un Certain Regard with his well-received “Oslo, August 31st” (2011), and he cracks the competition for the first time with this starry English-language drama about the secrets that emerge about a war photographer (Isabelle Huppert) three years after her death in a car accident. Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg star as her husband and son, respectively; the cast also includes David Strathairn and Amy Ryan. (Sales: Memento Films Intl.)

“Macbeth” (Justin Kurzel, U.K.-France-U.S.).

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard play Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty power couple in this Scottish-filmed adaptation. The competition berth marks a big step up for Australian director Kurzel from his trip to the Croisette in 2011, when “Snowtown,” his psychological chiller about the serial killer John Bunting, bowed in the festival’s parallel Critics’ Week sidebar.

(Sales: Studiocanal)

“Marguerite and Julien” (Valerie Donzelli, France).

Co-written by Donzelli and her regular collaborator Jeremie Elkaim, this tale of an incestuous love affair between the two eponymous siblings (played by Anais Demoustier and Jeremie Elkaim) is based on a 1971 Jean Gruault script that was almost filmed by Francois Truffaut.

The competition slot reps a big boost for Donzelli after her 2011 Critics’ Week hit, “Declaration of War.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Mon roi” (Maiwenn, France).

In addition to opening the festival with “La Tete haute,” Emmanuelle Bercot stars here as a woman recovering from a passionate but destructive romance; her lover is played by Vincent Cassel.

Maiwenn was previously at Cannes with her ensemble drama “Polisse” (2011), which won a jury prize. (Sales: Studiocanal)

“Mountains May Depart” (Jia Zhangke, China-Japan-France).

Jia’s first feature shot outside his native China is a generations-spanning drama that unfolds in three parts, set in the 1990s, the present day and 2025, respectively.

The filmmaker has had three prior films in competition at Cannes: “Unknown Pleasures” (2002), “24 City” (2008) and “A Touch of Sin” (2013), which won a screenplay prize.

His 2010 documentary, “I Wish I Knew,” screened in Un Certain Regard. (Sales: MK2)

“My Mother” (Nanni Moretti).

In her third collaboration with Moretti, Margherita Buy plays a filmmaker weathering a number of behind-the-scenes crises in this sardonic tragicomedy, also starring John Turturro.

In addition to his Palme d’Or-winning “The Son’s Room” (2001), Moretti has had five previous films in competition at Cannes: “Ecce bombo” (1978); “Dear Diary” (1994), which won him a directing prize; “Aprile” (1998); “The Caiman” (2006); and “We Have a Pope” (2011). (Sales: Films Distribution)

The Sea of Trees” (Gus Van Sant, U.S.).

Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe play two men who meet by chance in Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” where both have gone to end their lives; Naomi Watts also stars.

Van Sant was previously at Cannes with “Restless,” which opened Un Certain Regard in 2011. Before that, he won the Palme d’Or and a directing prize for “Elephant” (2003), and was also in competition with “Last Days” (2005) and “Paranoid Park” (2007), which won a special 60th anniversary prize from the festival.

(Sales: Bloom)

“Sicario” (Denis Villeneuve, U.S.).

The Canadian director is no stranger to Cannes, which screened his films “Cosmos” (1996, Directors’ Fortnight), “August 32nd on Earth” (1998, Un Certain Regard) and “Polytechnique” (2009, Directors’ Fortnight).

Since then, Villeneuve has become one of the most sought-after talents in Hollywood, and he looks set to crack the competition for the first time with “Sicario,” a crime drama starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin and Jon Bernthal, and set against the backdrop of the Mexican drug trade.

(Sales: Lionsgate Intl.)

“A Simple Man” (Stephane Brize, France).

After their well-regarded collaborations “Mademoiselle Chambon” (2009) and “A Few Hours of Spring” (2012), Brize and actor Vincent Lindon team for a third time with this drama about a 51-year-old man who begins working as a supermarket security guard and is soon faced with a moral dilemma.

The film marks Brize’s first time in competition at Cannes; he was previously at the festival with his 1999 debut, “Blue Cities” (Directors’ Fortnight). (Sales: MK2)

“Son of Saul” (Laszlo Nemes, Hungary).

The sole debut feature in competition follows a prisoner in 1944 Auschwitz who, forced to burn the corpses of his people, tries to save the body of a boy he takes for his own son.

Nemes is the son of the Hungarian director Andras Jeles and a longtime protege of Bela Tarr.

“The Tale of Tales” (Matteo Garrone, Italy-France-U.K.).

A two-time Cannes Grand Prix winner for “Gomorrah” (2008) and “Reality” (2012), Garrone ventures into the realm of English-language horror/fantasy with this f/x-heavy adaptation of a collection of fairy tales by the 17th-century Italian author Giambattista Basile.

Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly star. (Sales: HanWay Films)

“Youth” (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy-France-Switzerland-U.K.).

Sorrentino’s English-language drama stars Michael Caine as a retired orchestra conductor who receives an invitation to perform for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

It marks the Italian auteur’s sixth film in competition, after “The Consequences of Love” (2004), “The Family Friend” (2006), the jury prize-winning “Il Divo” (2008), “This Must Be the Place” (2011) and “The Great Beauty” (2013).

(Sales: Pathe)

 

OUT OF COMPETITION

“Inside Out” (Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen).

Docter was previously in Cannes with “Up,” the first animated film ever to open the festival. He returns with this comic fantasy about the emotional life of a young girl, featuring voice work by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling and Diane Lane.

A Cannes rollout will precede the film’s June 19 theatrical release.

“Irrational Man” (Woody Allen, U.S.).

Allen’s 45th feature, said to be one of his darker, more serious-minded entries in the vein of “Match Point,” stars Joaquin Phoenix as a small-town college philosophy professor who begins a relationship with one of his students (Emma Stone).

The film will screen May 15 in Cannes; Sony Classics will release the film July 24 Stateside. (Sales: FilmNation) 

“The Little Prince” (Mark Osborne).

Osborne co-directed “Kung Fu Panda” (with John Stevenson), which screened out of competition in 2008. His feature follow-up is reportedly one of the most expensive French animated features of all time (with an $80 million budget), and features voice work by Marion Cotillard, Riley Osborne, James Franco, Mackenzie Foy, Jeff Bridges and Benicio Del Toro. (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller, U.S.).

Tom Hardy steps into Mel Gibson’s iconic leather chaps in this long-gestating reimagining of Miller’s post-apocalyptic action franchise. The film, which also stars Charlize Theron, is set for a second-day May 14 slot in Cannes, one day before its worldwide release through Warner Bros.

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“The Chosen Ones” (David Pablos)
“Fly Away Solo” (Neeraj Ghaywan)
“The Fourth Direction” (Gurvinder Singh)
“The High Sun” (Dalibor Matanic)
“I Am a Soldier” (Laurent Lariviere)
“Journey to the Shore” (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
“Madonna” (Shin Suwon)
“Maryland” (Alice Winocour)
“Nahid” (Ida Panahandeh)
“One Floor Below” (Radu Muntean)
“The Other Side” (Roberto Minervini)
“Rams” (Grimur Hakonarson)
“The Shameless” (Oh Seung-uk)
“The Treasure” (Corneliu Porumboiu)

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“Amy” (Asif Kapadia)
“Office” (Hong Won-chan)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Amnesia” (Barbet Schroeder)
“Asphalte” (Samuel Benchetrit)
“L’esprit de l’escalier” (Pabla Lucavic)
“Hayored lema’ala” (Elad Keidan)
“Oka” (Souleymane Cisse)
“Panama” (Pavle Vuckovic)
“A Tale of Love and Darkness” (Natalie Portman)