What do Hiam Abbass, Andrea Arnold, Emmanuelle Devos, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor, Alexander Payne and Raoul Peck have in common? Okay, no prizes for this one — you’ve already seen the headline.
This year’s Cannes Film Festival competition jury, who will serve under previously announced jury president Nanni Moretti, is a typically motley crew, sufficiently diverse to stump any pundits trying to handicap the Palme d’Or race in terms of what the people voting might be looking for.
It’s hard to imagine what cinematic common ground off-the-wall French fashion designer Gaultier might find with stern Haitian filmmaker and political activist Peck, for example, or where the sensibilities of the jury’s two British members, jaunty Hollywood star McGregor and tough-minded realist director Arnold, may collide. Therein lies the fun.
Meanwhile, so many potential sympathies and affliciations can be identified that they rather cancel each other out. Does the presence of McGregor and Gaultier bode well for Nicole Kidman’s Best Actress chances? Will Emmanuelle Devos rally for her “Read My Lips” director Jacques Audiard? Does having two countrymen on the jury help Ken Loach at all? Jury loyalties can sometimes be pretty transparent in this regard — Isabelle Huppert handing the Palme to Michael Haneke is fresh in our memory — but it’s hard to spot any clear potential inclinations in this group.
Worth noting is that, in contrast to the strong American presence in this year’s Competition lineup, Alexander Payne, fresh from his second Oscar win, is the only Yank on the jury. Meanwhile, as to compensate for the complete absence of any in Competition, two female directors are present. In the case of Hiam Abbass, the Palestian actress-turned-filmmaker best known to US audiences for her turn opposite Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor,” this is an unexpected flip: many Cannes-watchers were surprised when her debut feature as director, “Inheritance,” didn’t show up in Competition last week. Now we know.
Arnold’s selection, meanwhile, seems like a reconciliatory gesture on the festival organisers’ part after her superb “Wuthering Heights” was unwisely turned down for last year’s Competition. (She wound up taking it to Venice instead, where it was well received by critics.) Along with president Moretti, who took the Palme in 2001 for “The Son’s Room,” she’s the only juror to have previously won at the festival: “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” both won the Jury Prize in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Payne and Peck have both been in Competition before (Payne for “About Schmidt,” Peck for “The Man on the Shore”) but came away empty-handed.
Impressively eclectic as it is, however, I’d venture that this year’s group isn’t quite as formidable as the jury formed for the Berlinale earlier this year, which ranged from Mike Leigh to Asghar Farhadi to Charlotte Gainsbourg to Jake Gyllenhaal. Watch your back, Cannes.
The jury isn’t the only major Cannes-related announcement of the week. I didn’t get round to this yesterday, but the list of films in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight sidebar has been unveiled; together with the Critics’ Week selections, announced Monday, it brings this year’s Cannes lineup to completion (though one or two additional stray titles across the sections have yet to be announced by Thierry Fremaux).
The Critics’ Week section is particularly focused on fresh, fringe talent this year — nine of the 10 films chosen are from first-time directors, while none are from the US. That pretty much ensures the media will turn a blind eye, but it’s always worth paying attention to this strand: last year, the big winners there were critical darlings “Take Shelter” and “Snowtown” (or, if you must, “The Snowtown Murders”).
The Directors’ Fortnight, meanwhile, is packing some bigger names this year, chief among them Michel Gondry, whose new film “The We and the I” will open the section. Following the disappointment of his attempted blockbuster “The Green Hornet,” the Frenchman’s latest finds him going emphatically lo-fi again — it’s filmed entirely with New York schoolchildren, apparently.
Other notable Fortnight inclusions are “Sightseers,” a black comedy from British up-and-comer Ben Wheatley (whose off-kilter horror film “Kill List” wowed many critics last year), “Room 237,” a “subjective documentary” about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” that earned a lot of Sundance attention, “Ernest and Celestine,” the latest from the offbeat French animation duo that gave us “A Town Called Panic,” and “La Noche de Enfrente,” the final film by the late Raul Ruiz. Most excitingly for me, as mentioned in yesterday’s Top 10 Most Anticipated list, is Pablo Larrain’s “No,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
Here’s the lineup for those two strands in full:
“The We and the I,” Michel Gondry (opening film) “Granny’s Funeral,” Bruno Podalydès
“Alyah,” Elie Wajeman “
“Dangerous Liaisons,” Hur Jin-ho
“Ernest and Célestine,” Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner
“Fogo,” Yulene Olaizola
“Gangs of Wasseypur,” Anurag Kashyap
“Hold Back,” Rachid Djaïdani
“Infancia Clandestina,” Benjamin Avila
“The King of Pigs,” Yeun Sang-ho
“No,” Pablo Larraín
“La Noche de Enfrente,” Raul Ruiz
“Opération Libertad,” Nicolas Wadimoff
“A Respectable Family,” Massoud Bakhshi
“Room 237,” Rodney Ascher
“Sightseers,” Ben Wheatley
“La Sirga,” William Vega
“Sueño y Silencio,” Jaime Rosales
“El Taaib (Le Repenti),” Merzak Allouache
“3,” Pablo Stoll Ward
“Camille Redouble,” Noémie Lvovsky (closing film)
“Broken,” Rufus Norris (opening film)
“Aquí y Allá,” Antonio Méndez Esparza
“Au Galop,” Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
“Augustine,” Alice Winocour
“Beyond the Walls,” David Lambert
“Maddened by His Absence,” Sandrine Bonnaire
“Peddlers,” Vasan Bala
“Los Salvajes,” Alejandro Fadel
“Sofia’s Last Ambulance,” Ilian Metev
“Les Voisins de Dieu,” Meni Yaesh
For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.
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