Cannes Film Fest 2014: Main Competition

The wide-ranging competition slate is typically heavy on French filmmakers, with Olivier Assayas’ international co-production “Clouds of Sils Maria” and Bertrand Bonello’s fashion-designer biopic “Saint Laurent” joining Hazanavicius’ “The Search” and Godard’s 3D experiment “Goodbye to Language.” Fremaux noted that Godard, famously a no-show at the 2010 Cannes premiere of his “Film socialisme,” had “promised he’ll be there — which doesn’t mean he will!”

One of the more intriguing developments of this year’s competition is the unusual dominance of Canadian auteurs. As anticipated, no fewer than three Canuck helmers are in the running for the Palme this year: Cronenberg with his Robert Pattinson starrer “Maps to the Stars,” Egoyan with his kidnapping thriller “The Captive,” and 25-year-old Quebecois helmer Xavier Dolan with his relationship drama “Mommy.”

Though outnumbered in competition by its neighbor to the north, the U.S. will be represented by two hotly anticipated titles expected to supply much of the Croisette’s star wattage: Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher,” a ripped-from-the-headlines drama featuring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, and Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman,” a 19th-century Western starring Jones, Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, Miranda Otto and William Fichtner.

American titles set to premiere outside the competition include the animated sequel “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” following a sturdy tradition of DreamWorks toons premiering on the Croisette; “Lost River,” the directing debut of actor Ryan Gosling, previously known under the title “How to Catch a Monster”; and Ned Benson’s “Eleanor Rigby,” which screened as a two-part work in progress at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. Gosling and Benson will present their films in the official selection’s Un Certain Regard sidebar.

Befitting a festival whose main jury will be presided over by Jane Campion, still the only female director ever to have won the Palme d’Or (for 1993′s “The Piano”), the competition will present two films helmed by women, an improvement over the festival’s numbers in 2012 and 2013. Japan’s Naomi Kawase, a competition regular, will return with her whodunit “Still the Water,” while Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher will present her sophomore feature, “Le Meraviglie.”

Fremaux noted in his opening remarks that, of the 49 titles picked for the official selection (from some 1,800 submissions), 15 were directed by women. Most of these fall into Un Certain Regard, including “Incompresa,” from actress-helmer Asia Argento; “Bird People,” from French helmer Pascale Ferran; “Amour fou,” from Austria’s Jessica Hausner; “Harcheck mi headro,” from Israel’s Keren Yedaya; and “Party Girl,” co-directed by two women, Marie Amachoukeli and Claire Burger and a man, Samuel Theis.

“Usually I don’t mention the number (of films directed by women),” Fremaux quipped, sparking laughter from journos over what has been an especially sensitive subject for the festival in recent years. He went on to single out Argento’s “Incompresa” as an “extremely personal film,” noting that it was one of a handful of films directed by actors in the festival, including Gosling’s “Lost River” and Amalric’s Un Certain Regard entry “The Blue Room.” “There are not that many, but they’re all important,” Fremaux said.

Fremaux said that more titles might be added to the selection between now and the festival, which runs May 14-25. While he wouldn’t comment on the apparent exclusion of Abel Ferrara’s hotly tipped Dominique Strauss-Kahn drama “Welcome to New York,” the film could still be a late addition to the lineup.

2014 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

OPENER

“Grace of Monaco” (Olivier Dahan, France-U.S.-Belgium-Italy) Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in Dahan’s 1960s-set biopic, which is kicking off the festival out of competition. The Weinstein Co. is distributing the film Stateside. (Sales: Lotus Entertainment)

COMPETITION

“The Captive” (Atom Egoyan, Canada) Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson star in this abduction thriller, Egoyan’s sixth competition entry; the Canadian helmer won the Grand Prix for 1997’s “The Sweet Hereafter.” (Sales: eOne)

“Clouds of Sils Maria” (Olivier Assayas, France-Switzerland-Germany) IFC has Stateside rights to this English-language picture about an actress who withdraws to the Swiss town of the title, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. Assayas was previously in competition with “Clean,” “Demonlover” and “Les Destinees sentimentales,” but has yet to win a Cannes prize. (Sales: MK2)

“Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller, U.S.) Once slated to open last year’s AFI Film Festival before being pushed to 2014, this third feature from the highly regarded writer-director of “Capote” and “Moneyball” is an account of the murder of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz. Sony Classics is releasing the film Stateside. (Sales: Panorama Media)

“Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland) Previously at the festival with 2010’s characteristically cryptic “Film socialisme,” Godard will make his seventh appearance in competition (if you count his contribution to 1987’s “Aria”). His latest offering will be presented in 3D.

“The Homesman” (Tommy Lee Jones, U.S.) Set around his period Western is the actor-director’s first helming effort since his 2005 debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which won two prizes at Cannes (including an acting award for Jones). (Sales: EuropaCorp)

“Jimmy’s Hall” (Ken Loach, U.K.-Ireland-France) Reportedly the British realist’s final fiction feature, this drama about the Irish communist leader James Gralton will mark Loach’s 12th time in competition. He won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and recently received a jury prize for 2012’s “The Angels’ Share.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Leviathan” (Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia) A multi-character fusion of social drama and sci-fi set in a “new country,” Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature marks his first return to the Cannes competition since 2007’s “The Banishment”; his previous film, “Elena,” closed Un Certain Regard in 2011.

“Le Meraviglie” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-Switzerland-Germany) One of two female directors in competition this year, Italian writer-director Rohrwacher delivers her second feature after her 2011 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Corpo celeste.” It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl in the Umbrian countryside whose secluded life is shattered by the arrival of a young German ex-con.

“Maps to the Stars” (David Cronenberg, U.S.) This satire of the entertainment industry will be the Canadian auteur’s fifth film to screen in competition at Cannes (following “Crash,” “Spider,” “A History of Violence” and “Cosmopolis”), and his second consecutive collaboration with star Robert Pattinson. It could also be his first film to win the Palme d’Or. (Sales: eOne)

“Mommy” (Xavier Dolan, France-Canada) One of the younger directors to crack the competition (at age 25), the Quebecois helmer scooped up multiple Critics’ Week prizes for his 2009 debut, “I Killed My Mother,” and entered Un Certain Regard with “Heartbeats” and “Laurence Anyways.” His latest is a relationship drama starring Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement and Antoine-Olivier Pilon. (Sales: eOne)

“Saint Laurent” (Bertrand Bonello, France) Not to be confused with Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” the other recent biopic of the French fashion designer, Bonello’s film stars Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux. The helmer was previously in competition with 2011’s “House of Pleasures” (then titled “House of Tolerance”) and 2003’s “Tiresia.” (Sales: EuropaCorp)

“The Search” (Michel Hazanavicius, France) Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening topline this drama centered around the bond between an NGO worker and a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. A remake of Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar-winning 1948 film of the same title, it marks Hazanavicius’ return to the Cannes competition after his 2011 prizewinner, “The Artist.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Still the Water” (Naomi Kawase, Japan) By now a Cannes competition regular, Kawase won the Grand Prix for 2007’s “The Mourning Forest” and received the Camera d’Or for her 1997 debut, “Suzaku.” Her latest film is set on the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima and centers on a young couple trying to solve a mysterious death. (Sales: MK2)

“Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh, U.K.) A four-time veteran of the Cannes competition who won the Palme d’Or for 1996’s “Secrets & Lies” and best director for 1993’s “Naked,” the British master will return to the festival with this portrait of the 19th-century painter J.M.W. Turner, starring Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. Sony Classics is distributing in the U.S. (Sales: Focus Features Intl.)

“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako, France) The Mauritanian director, who was previously at Cannes with 2006’s “Bamako,” tells the story of a young couple who were stoned to death in northern Mali for the crime of “not being married before God.” (Sales: Le Pacte)

“Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium) Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet star in this story of a young woman trying to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job. Already acquired by Sundance Selects for the U.S., it will be the Belgian brothers’ sixth film to compete at Cannes; they have won the Palme d’Or twice, for 1999’s “Rosetta” and 2005’s “L’enfant.” (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“Wild Tales” (Damian Szifron, Argentina-Spain) Pedro Almodovar is one of the producers of this series of comic sketches from Argentinean writer-director Szifron, making his first appearance at Cannes.

“Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France) This three-hour-plus drama is set in the titular landscape of Ceylan’s previous film (and 2011 Cannes Grand Prix winner), “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.” The rigorous Turkish auteur also won the festival’s directing prize for 2008’s “Three Monkeys” and the Grand Prix for 2002’s “Distant.”

OUT OF COMPETITION

“Coming Home” (Zhang Yimou, China) Zhang’s 12th collaboration with Gong Li (star of his Cannes competition entries “Ju Dou,” “To Live” and “Shanghai Triad”) is a romantic drama set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. Sony Classics is distributing the film in North America and other territories. (Sales: Wild Bunch)

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois, U.S.) This Fox-distributed sequel to 2010’s smash hit “How to Train Your Dragon” follows in a long line of DreamWorks toons that have bowed on the Croisette, including “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Kung Fu Panda” and last year’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

“Les Gens du Monde” (Yves Jeuland, France) Jeuland’s latest documentary pays tribute to the 70-year history of France’s daily newspaper Le Monde.

UN CERTAIN REGARD

OPENER: “Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, France) This directorial debut for all three co-helmers tells the story of a 60-year-old nightclub hostess who finally decides to settle down by marrying a member of her clientele. It was selected to open Un Certain Regard “because we’ve noted that the young French cinema is in a state of fervor and vitality, and we need to encourage it,” Fremaux said. (Sales: Pyramide)

“Amour fou” (Jessica Hausner) “Bird People” (Pascale Ferran) “The Blue Room” (Mathieu Amalric) “Charlie’s Country” (Rolf de Heer) “Dohee-ya” (July Jung) “Eleanor Rigby” (Ned Benson) “Fantasia” (Wang Chao) “Force Majeure” (Ruben Ostlund) “Harcheck mi headro” (Keren Yedaya) “Hermosa juventud” (Jaime Rosales) “Incompresa” (Asia Argento) “Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso) “Lost River” (Ryan Gosling) “Run” (Philippe Lacote) “The Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado) “Snow in Paradise” (Andrew Hulme) “Titli” (Kanu Behl) “Xenia” (Panos Koutras)

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“The Rover” (David Michod) “The Salvation” (Kristian Levring) “The Target” (Yoon Hong-seung)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“The Bridges of Sarajevo” (various directors) “Maidan” (Sergei Loznitsa) “Red Army” (Polsky Gabe) “Silvered Water” (Mohammed Ossama and Wiam Bedirxan) “Caricaturistes – Fantassins de la democratie” (Stephanie Valloatto)