Hard to believe that the Cannes Film Festival is just a month away — before you know it, people will be cranking up the Oscar conversation again. The full lineup will be announced in Paris on April 17, but another nugget was revealed this morning. The opening film of the theoretically secondary, but increasingly prestigious, Un Certain Regard competition will be a French title: “Party Girl,” the joint directorial debut of Marie Amacoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis.
In recent years, Cannes has sometimes kicked off UCR with a big-name auteur title: Gus Van Sant's “Restless” and, last year, Sofia Coppola's “The Bling Ring” both took the slot, as a kind of compensation for the directors being demoted from the main Competition. The more left-field selection of “Party Girl,” says the festival, is indicative of the section's mission to expose fresh talent.
The film is a mix of fact and fiction, casting a real-life sexuagenarian nightclub hostess named Angelique as herself, and focusing on her decision to retire from the party scene to marry one of her regular clients. (In an indirect sense, then, it sounds thematically compatible with the festival's overall curtain-raiser, “Grace of Monaco,” which studies Grace Kelly's retreat from the Hollywood circuit into European royalty.) The three directors, collaborators since film school, have twice taken short films to the Croisette.
The festival also claims that the selection of “Party Girl” is in line with the wishes of this year's Un Certain Regard jury president, Pablo Trapero, “to present a passionate selection of established masters, young talents and new forms of cinema.”
Argentinian auteur Trapero is no stranger to the festival, having competed four times in the Un Certain Regard section: with “El bonaerense” in 2002, “Carancho” in 2010 and both “White Elephant” and “7 Days in Havana” (a portmanteau film to which he contributed) in 2012. In 2008, his gutsy female prison drama “Lion's Den” went one better, competing for the Palme d'Or — like “Carancho,” it was submitted for the foreign-language Oscar, but not shortlisted.
This year's Cannes Film Festival will take place from May 14 to 25.