Cannes Film Fest 2016: Official Selection–In Competition

Cannes festival president Pierre Lescure and artistic director Thierry Fremaux unveiled the official selection of the 2016 edition, which runs May 11-22.

The choices includes big names, such as Spielberg’s friendly giant, “The BFG,” Shane Black’s “Nice Guys,”) Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” and “The Neon Demon.”

Among the English-language fare are also new films from Jeff Nichols (“Loving”), Sean Penn (“The Last Face”) and Jim Jarmusch, who will sho2 his bus-driver drama “Paterson,” as well as his Iggy Pop documentary, “Gimme Danger.”

The 49 titles unveiled on Thursday represent 28 countries.

Strong showing for Romania, with two films in competition, past Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu’s “Baccalaureat” and Cristi Puiu’s “Sierra-Nevada,” and debut “Dogs” in Un Certain Regard).

Israel will also be represented by two works:  “Personal Affairs”  and“Beyond the Mountains and Hills.”

The big winner among distributors is American newcomer Amazon Studios, with five films in official selection.

In contrast, there are no films from Italy or Mexico. Fremaux stressed that the selection represents the best of the record-setting 1,869 features submitted for consideration.

The complete absence of Italian filmmakers in competition is striking: Last year three of the country’s top directors vied for the top prize. Fremaux said the country’s rising generation of filmmakers is represented by by Stefano Mordini (“Pericles the Black Man”) in Un Certain Regard.

There are only two from Latin America: “Acquarius,” from Brazilian critic-turned-helmer Kleber Mendonca Filho, and Argentine-made “The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis.”

Two from Africa: NYU-schooled Egyptian director Mohmaed Diab’s “Clash” and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “A Chad Tragedy.”

This year, Cannes sees a largely Euro- and U.S.-centric lineup.

There are only three female directors in competition — Andrea Arnold, Nicole Garcia (“From the Land of the Moon” and Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann”).

However, one-fifth of the directors in the overall official selection are women. The Un Certain Regard section features the work of five female helmers.

Less dominated by the usual suspects than recent years, the competition includes rising young talents, such as Nichols and Canadian Xavier Dolan (“It’s Only the End of the World”).

Among more well-established auteurs are previous Palme d’Or winners Ken Loach (“I, Daniel Blake”), and Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (“The Unknown Girl”) in competition.

There is only one film from this year’s Sundance Fest, Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic,” which stars Viggo Mortensen as an anti-establishment ex-hippie.

Apart from “Elle” and Nicolas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon,” which Fremaux called a “cannibal horror movie set in the fashion world,” the competition lineup is light on genre fare.

The festival will premiere American director Michael O’Shea’s debut “Transfiguration,” one of several vampire stories in this year’s lineup, and Na Hong-jin’s Korean crime thriller “Goksung.”

Fremaux indicated that he might still add some titles in the coming weeks. He is still waiting to see Asghar Farhadi’s latest.

Several anticipated films will definitely not be there, including Scorsese’s “Silence” and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “The Woman in the Silver Plate,” neither of which is finished.

Among other omissions was a closing night movie, which Fremaux explained by saying he instead plans to end the festival by re-screening whichever film wins the Palme d’Or.  He pointed out some closing films have been great successes, including Spielberg’s “E.T.” and Ridley Scott’s “Thelma & Louise.”

But he acknowledged that the problem with closing night is the fact that most people have already left by the end of the festival, which makes it a tough sell to convince filmmakers who want to provide the best showcase for their movies. He hopes that repeating the Palme winner on closing night might bolster the slot’s profile.

Addressing security concerns, Lescure said the festival will be responsible for ensuring security inside the Palais and its immediate surroundings. “We have staffed up with 599 security staff who are highly experienced,” said Lescure, who added that the festival will be collaborating on a daily basis with local and regional authorities to provide the best security measures.

Before the press conference, Lescure and Fremaux gave the floor to French entertainment workers and students who protested against the government’s attempt to toughen labor laws for audiovisual, film and culture employees.




“Cafe Society” (Woody Allen). The director’s until-recently-untitled 1930s romance, which divides its time between Hollywood and the Bronx, stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. His first feature to be shot in digital, “Cafe Society” was lensed by “Apocalypse Now” d.p. Vittorio Storaro and will be released later this year by Amazon Studios (rather than the director’s usual distributor, Sony Pictures Classics). Allen was at Cannes just last year with “Irrational Man.”


“Aquarius” (Kleber Mendonca Filho).

Critic-turned-director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s follow-up to 2012’s “Neighboring Sounds,” a splashy Brazilian debuts, stars Sonia Braga (“Kiss of the Spider Woman”) as a retired, widowed music writer, who also time travels.

“American Honey” (Andrea Arnold, U.K.). The British director, who was invited to serve on the Cannes jury in 2012, has earned her fair share of honors from the festival, claiming jury prizes for both “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” in official competition. Her latest — and her first-ever American film — follows a group of young people who travel the country selling magazine subscriptions and making trouble, starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough. A24 plans to release later this year.

“Elle” (Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands). The “Black Book” director’s first film to land in official competition since 1992’s “Basic Instinct,” this thriller finds Verhoeven working in French for the first time. Former Cannes jury president Isabelle Huppert plays a top exec for a video-game company who turns the tables after being violated in a home invasion.

“From the Land of the Moon” (Nicole Garcia, France). Adapted from Milena Agus’ Italian novella about a young woman’s romances, both real and imagined, from 1943 until the mid-’60s, this entry — which stars Marion Cotillard and looks to be one of the lineup’s more crowd-pleasing entries — marks the third time the French actress-turned-helmer (“Charlie Says”) has directed a feature in competition.

“Graduation,” (Cristian Mungiu, Romania). A Palme d’Or winner for “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Mungiu reportedly scaled back after “Beyond the Hills” (a Cannes screenplay winner), discreetly shooting his latest last summer in Romania. Following films about abortion and forbidden lesbian love, Mungiu’s new project is remarkable in that it centers around a male protagonist, a small-town doctor played by Adrian Titieni.

“The Handmaiden” (Park Chan-wook, S. Korea). This latest from the director of “Old Boy” — back in Cannes after 2009’s “Thirst” — marks a return to Korean-language filmmaking after “Stoker,” although it takes its inspiration from British novelist Sarah Waters’ “Fingersmith” (previously adapted for the BBC), in which a female pickpocket aligns with a con man to seduce and scam a wealthy Japanese heiress. Amazon Studios has U.S. rights.

“I, Daniel Blake” (Ken Loach, U.K.). Britain’s celebrated social realist has been a Cannes mainstay, screening 16 films in the fest (a dozen of them in competition) since the 1970 premiere of “Kes” in Critics’ Week. His latest collaboration with screenwriter Paul Laverty (who wrote Loach’s Palme d’Or winner, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”) centers on an injured carpenter and single mother struggling to get by on welfare.

“It’s Only the End of the World” (Xavier Dolan, Canada). After serving on the jury of last year’s festival, the young Canadian director — who split the jury prize with Jean-Luc Godard for his last feature, “Mommy” — returns with this French-language drama, which stars Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel. Inspired by Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play “Juste la fin du monde,” the film follows a writer who returns home to announce his imminent death to his immediate family.

“Julieta” (Pedro Almodovar, Spain). Taking inspiration from a trio of stories by Pulitzer winner Alice Munro included in her book “Runaway,” the Spanish director’s latest celebration of a strong female protagonist stars Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suarez, who split the title role over the span of more than 30 years. This is the “All About My Mother” director’s fourth film in competition. As usual, Sony Pictures Classics will release in the U.S.

“The Last Face” (Sean Penn, U.S.). The controversial actor-director’s new drama stars Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem as aid workers who fall in love against the backdrop of war-torn Liberia. The film marks a return to Cannes for Penn after his helming debut, “The Indian Runner” (1991, Directors’ Fortnight), and “The Pledge” (2001, competition). Penn served as president of the official Cannes jury in 2008.

“Loving” (Jeff Nichols, U.S.) Mere months after “Midnight Special” premiered at Berlin, Nichols will unveil this civil rights drama starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as an interracial couple in 1958 Virginia. Set to open theatrically Nov. 4 through Focus Features, the film would mark a return to Cannes for Nichols after “Take Shelter” (2011, Critics’ Week) and “Mud” (2012, competition).

“Ma’ Rosa” (Brillante Mendoza, Philippines). Little is known so far about the latest from the prolific Filipino auteur, who was in Cannes just last year with his Un Certain Regard entry, “Trap.” He was previously in competition with “Kinatay” (2009), which earned him the jury’s directing prize, and “Serbis” (2008).

“The Neon Demon” (Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark). According to an early statement by the Danish director, “After making ‘Drive’ and falling madly in love with the electricity of Los Angeles, I knew I had to return to tell the story of ‘The Neon Demon,’” a style-drenched horror movie in which Elle Fanning plays a young model preyed upon by jealous rivals. Amazon will release in the U.S. this summer.

“Paterson” (Jim Jarmusch, U.S.). Adam Driver plays Paterson, a blue-collar bus driver who lives in the modest New Jersey city of the same name. He dabbles in poetry, encouraged by on-screen wife Golshifteh Farahani, in what’s sure to be one of the film’s more low-key entries — nothing like the director’s last Cannes competition selection, “Only Lovers Left Alive.” Six of his pics have competed for the Palme.

“Personal Shopper” (Olivier Assayas, France). Assayas’ latest reunites him with Kristen Stewart, who won critical accolades and a supporting actress Cesar for “Clouds of Sils Maria.” Set in the world of Paris fashion and interwoven with supernatural elements, the intriguing project stars Stewart as an American woman working as personal shopper for a celebrity. Sales: Mk2.

“Sierra-Nevada” (Cristi Puiu, Romania). One of the most revered Romanian filmmakers has remarkably never been in competition at Cannes; both “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” and “Aurora” premiered in Un Certain Regard. That looks to change at last. His new film (which stars “Lazarescu’s” Mimi Branescu”) is set around a contentious family reunion intended to commemorate the life of a recently deceased patriarch.

“Slack Bay” (Bruno Dumont, France). After earning some of the best reviews of his career with “Li’l Quinquin,” Dumont seems determined to get even wackier, eschewing unknowns for established stars, including Fabrice Luchini and Juliette Binoche. Set in the same dreary corner of northern France where the director has always lived and worked, during the summer of 1910, the period comedy marks the director’s third film in competition, following “L’Humanite” and “Flanders.”

“Staying Vertical” (Alain Guiraudie, France). The director attracted international attention three years ago with “Stranger by the Lake,” a daring thriller set in a gay cruising spot. The edgy film earned him best director honors in Un Certain Regard and a handful of Cesar nominations at the end of the year. His latest feature, which turns on a film director who raises his young son alone, graduates to competition. Sales: Les Films du Losange.

“Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade, Germany). One of only three female directors in competition — and the first German to compete in years — Ade won the Silver Bear in Berlin for “Everyone Else.” Her third feature stars Peter Simonischek as a father convinced that his daughter (Sandra Huller) has lost her sense of humor, so he drops in on her in Bucharest and unleashes a series of jokes. 

“The Unknown Girl” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium). After casting movie stars Marion Cotillard and Cecile de France in their previous two films, the Belgian brothers cast the lesser-known but rising French star Adele Haenel (“Love at First Fight”) alongside regulars Jeremie Renier and Olivier Gourmet in this story of a young doctor investigating the identity of a patient who died after being refused treatment.


“The BFG” (Steven Spielberg, U.S.). A reunion between former Cannes jury president Spielberg and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’s” (late) screenwriter Melissa Mathison, this all-ages Roald Dahl adaptation represents the biggest film on the Croisette, kicking off an international campaign for Disney’s July 1 release. Mark Rylance plays the eponymous giant, while Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader and Jermaine Clement play more normal-sized characters.

“Goksung” (Na Hong-jin, S. Korea). The gritty Korean genre director has been to Cannes twice before, with “The Chaser” (midnight, 2008) and “The Yellow Sea” (Un Certain Regard, 2011). Set in a remote village set into turmoil by a series of deaths, his ultra-stylish new film is told from the perspective of a police detective who comes to suspect that the crimes have something to do with his own daughter. Sales: Finecut.

“Money Monster” (Jodie Foster, U.S.). George Clooney plays the host of a television financial-advice program taken hostage by an angry viewer (“Unbroken’s” Jack O’Connell), who holds him responsible for a bad stock tip. Julia Roberts also stars as the show’s tough-as-nails producer in a film that brings Foster back to Cannes 30 years after “Taxi Driver” unspooled in competition.

“Nice Guys” (Shane Black, U.S.). Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling co-star in this late-’70s-set L.A. buddy comedy between a pair of not-quite cops, who don’t hesitate to bend the rules while investigating a girl’s disappearance. Black was previously in Cannes with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which screened out of competition, while Gosling infamously debuted his “Lost River” there two years ago.

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