Cannes Film Fest 2012: Official Program-Part One

Star-dominated Fest

Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are among the many Hollywood stars to be at the Cannes Film Festival, which will be celebrating its 65th edition, May 16-May 27.

Beyond the Hollywood glitz factor, however, the wide-ranging 2012 line-up is notable for showcasing those international auteurs on which Cannes has long staked its reputation, even as it invites a fresh wave of directors to step up to the big leagues.

Lee Daniels, Jeff Nichols, Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat will represent the younger generation, alongside such regulars as David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke, Walter Salles and Ken Loach, all vying for the Palme d’Or in a strong competition slate unveiled Thursday morning by Cannes delegate general Thierry Fremaux at the Grand Hotel in Paris.


Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” announced in March as the festival opening-night attraction, was upgraded to the main program. The Focus Features release is the first Cannes opener to compete since 2008’s “Blindness” (which, by the way, was a huge disappointment).




The U.S. hasn’t enjoyed a competition presence this strong since 2007, when Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, David Fincher, Gus Van Sant and James Gray were all in contention.


The strong representation is not limited to the main program, however. Philip Kaufman’s “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” an HBO drama about the literary couple, will screen out of competition, as will the previously announced DreamWorks animation “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”


“The Central Park Five,” a Gotham true-crime account from documentarians Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, will receive a special screening, while Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will have its international premiere in the Un Certain Regard series.


Who’s Missing


Missing from the line-up is Terrence Malick’s “The Funeral,” which Fremaux confirmed will not be ready in time. The fest head said he would bulk up the official selection (which now stands at 54 titles) before its May 16 launch, though any such additions would most likely be made to the midnight and special screenings.  At this point, the competition and Un Certain Regard are unlikely to change.


No Women in Competition


In sharp departure from last year’s impressive distaff showing, there are no female directors in competition. The titles simply weren’t there, Fremaux said, adding that he doesn’t practice discrimination along any lines.


“The best respect we can pay to women is to consider them as directors. I don’t want to say, ‘This film is selected because the director’s a woman.’ It’s because the film is good,” he said.


Moreover, there are no debut features in competition, as opposed to last year’s edition, which had two: Julia Leigh’s “Sleeping Beauty” and Markus Schleinzer’s “Michael.”


Star power is in abundance.


Vicole Kidman’s year: Kidman stars in both Kaufman’s “Hemingway” and Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” a 1960s-set erotic thriller that also includes Zac Efron, John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey.


In addition to his “Paperboy” role, McConaughey stars as a wily fugitive in Nichols’ “Mud,” a Southern coming-of-ager that also boasts Reese Witherspoon.


Brad Pitt, in Cannes last year with Terrence Malick’s Palme-winning “The Tree of Life,” will return this year as the star of “Killing Them Softly,” a mob-themed dark comedy that reteams the actor with helmer Dominik after “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”


Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke play brothers in Hillcoat’s “Lawless,” a tale of Prohibition-era bootleggers scripted by the helmer’s regular collaborator Nick Cave.


For Fremaux, “Killing Them Softly” and “Lawless” (both of which the Weinstein Co. is distributing Stateside) fall into a category of “mixed personal-commercial genre films” that includes titles such as last year’s Cannes hit “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling.