Update: Cannes Announces Shockingly Low-Key Line-Up, Kickstarts Awards Season

Roll out the red carpet: Can cries of masterpiece be far behind?

April 12, 2018 5:00 am

Update: Today, Cannes Chief Thierry Fremaux revealed the premier international film festival’s line-up that typically paves the way for immediate Oscar buzz in a Twitterverse that magnifies the boos and hosannas of the elite crowd on the Croissette. Fremaux failed to increase the ratio of female directors to male, hewing to nurturing lesser-known and in some cases unknown talent for a more muted awards season reveal.

Opening night will lead off with festival favorite Iranian Writer-Director Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows. Immediately a shoe-in for Best Foreign Language Film – Farhadi won a 2011 Oscar in that category for A Separation – the Spanish-language drama casts real-life lovebirds Penelope Cruz and Javier Barden (both past Oscar winners). It’s about a Spanish wife and her Argentinian husband who travel from Buenos Aires with the kids to her native Madrid where past secrets betray the present. Screaming ensues.

And newly announced entries into the high-profile competition are:

BlacKkKlansman: By Oscar season we’ll know how to pronounce the awkward title for Spike Lee’s provocative fact-based drama about, what else, race in America. It stars John David Washington (a.k.a. Denzel’s son) as Colorado cop Ron Stallworth who went undercover in the local KKK chapter and rose to become its chief. Ubiquitous Adam Driver and Topher Grace costar in the Focus Features contender slated for domestic release on August 10th, the anniversary of the Charlottesville protests. Will this topical crime drama – written with the cooperation of Stallworth himself – bring one-time nominee Lee back to the Best Director circle poised for the win? And can it push Denzel’s grown son to gold, too?

Under the Silver Lake: Upstart awards powerhouse A24 (Moonlight, Lady Bird) brings it on with David Robert Mitchell’s quirky follow-up to It Follows with a hallucinogenic LA thriller clocking in at 140 minutes. A schleppy Andrew Garfield stars as Sam, a regular guy obsessed with the sudden disappearance of his blond Marilyn of a neighbor, Sarah (American Honey‘s Riley Keogh). When she moves out after their one-night stand, Sam encounters a world of weird as he tries to find her.

Three Faces: International film festival favorite, Iranian New Wave Director Jafar (Taxi) Panahi has been participating in Cannes since 1995 with The White Balloon, which won the Camera d’Or. His current character-driven film follows three actresses at different career stages, and promises to be a showcase for female performances. The mystery is whether Iran will allow Panahi out of the country to travel to France for his competition premiere.  Of Panahi, festival honcho Fremaux said: “The Iranian authorities will receive a letter from us and from the French authorities to see if they can authorize him to come. We would really love to welcome him.”

Girls of the Sun: French-Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (Paterson opposite Adam Driver) leads French Bang Gang Director Eva Husson’s fact-based action drama. She plays a lawyer, wife and mother turned leader of a squad of female resistance fighters intent on retaking her home village in Kurdistan.

Ash is the Purest White: Award-winning Chinese Director Zhankge Jia (previous Cannes competitor Mountains May Depart) examines violent love in the 21st Century set against a mobster backdrop. The romantic drama stars his wife Tao Zhao and Fan Liao.

Cold War: As tensions between the Russians and Americans heat up, what could be timelier than Pawel (BAFTA-winning Ida) Pawikowski’s love story set against the chilling restrictions of the Cold War. His Ida star, Agata Kuleszka returns alongside Joanna Kulig.

Out of competition, the previously announced Star Wars spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story will crash to earth. Directed by Ron Howard, this space opera isn’t likely to be awards season bound. However, in a year that might be relatively short on star power, it will refresh the red carpet with the likes of Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke, Aiden Ehrenreich in the title role as the young Han Solo, Westworld‘s Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Atlanta‘s Donald Glover, Paul Bettany and Jon Favreau.

The 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival will open on May 8th and run until May 19th.

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