Cannes gears up for glitzy return with lockdown films in the mix

The organizers of the world’s largest film festival said on Thursday they were confident they could host dinners and beach screenings alongside the main competition as some COVID-19 measures are lifted in France.

The extravaganza, normally held in May, was canceled last year due to the pandemic and will take place between July 6 and 17 this year. While there will be no “red carpet kisses”, the restrictions shouldn’t be too onerous, festival director Thierry Fremaux said.

Travelers from some countries, such as Great Britain, are still dealing with quarantine measures in France, but there is no longer a curfew.

After a Hollywood-heavy edition of Cannes in 2019, the comeback lineup features fewer major American stars.

The roster competing for the Palme d’Or includes some films anchored in COVID-19 times, with characters wearing face masks.

“The cinema will also be marked by this,” Fremaux said at a press conference.

La Fracture by French director Catherine Corsini is set in a hospital in the present.


Highlights include The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson, known for his quirky The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson’s latest film, about a fictional American newspaper office in France starring Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, has been delayed since 2019.

Flag Day, a drama directed by Sean Penn, will also be one of 24 films entered, with a jury led by American filmmaker Spike Lee.

The Italian Nanni Moretti, who won in 2001, returns with Tre Piani, while Paul Verhoeven will present Benedetta, about a love story in a monastery.

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in Annette, a Leos Carax musical that premieres on opening night.

French directors Francois Ozon and Jacques Audiard will also present films, as well as Iran’s Asghar Farhadi, Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov and Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won the Palme d’Or in 2010.

Out of competition, Oliver Stone will screen a reworked version of his 1991 political thriller JFK, with new material.

Oscar winner Jodie Foster, who walked the Cannes red carpet for the first time as a 13-year-old when she starred in Taxi Driver, will receive an honorary Palme d’Or.

Cannes organizers have long been at odds with streaming giant Netflix, which produces its own films and has screened them at festivals, but has objected to strict French rules for theatrical release of films in competition.

Fremaux said two Netflix movies were potential contenders for Cannes, but no agreement had been reached on how to present them.

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