Cannes countdown hots up

Besson, Coppola, Haneke waiting in the wings.

by Richard Mowe

Could Luc Besson’s Valérian make it to Cannes? Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne look all set for Croisette action
Could Luc Besson’s Valérian make it to Cannes? Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne look all set for Croisette action Photo: Unifrance
The Cannes cat will be out of the bag tomorrow (April 13) when festival director Thierry Frémaux reveals most of his line-up at a media jamboree in Paris, putting an end to months of speculation on who is in or out for the event’s 70th anniversary edition.

The rumour mill has many Cannes favourites circling around the coveted berths in the main Competition and the sidebar Un Certain Regard sections. Although it does not officially come out until July there is plenty of speculation (or wishful thinking) around Luc Besson’s Valerian starring Dane DeHaan, Ethan Hawke, Clive Owen, Cara Delevingne and Rhianna, based on the French science-fi comic series Valérian and Laureline, first published in 1967. Besson who has a penchant for the genre, read it first when he was just ten years old and it has been on his mind ever since. He started writing it more than ten years ago and meanwhile limbered up with The Fifth Element. If included it would be one of the hottest tickets on the Croisette.

Sofia Coppola has been a Cannes regular: her new film The Beguiled looks a strong possibility
Sofia Coppola has been a Cannes regular: her new film The Beguiled looks a strong possibility
Also in the pending frame is Fatih Akin with In The Fade, featuring Diane Kruger - a project about a man tipped over the edge by prejudice which has been a long time in the works. Mathieu Amalric who gave Cannes On Tour and The Blue Room offers a new musical about the Sixties French singing survivor Barbara. Amalric may also be seen on screen in Arnaud Desplechin’s Fantômes d’Ismael alongside Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Desplechin has had three films premiered in Cannes. Another French director Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods and Men) has a new First World War drama Les Gardiennes meanwhile Laurent Cantet (Palme d’Or winner in 2008 for The Class) stays with education in L’Atelier about group dynamics in a young people’s writing workshop.

Hotly tipped is Sofia Coppola with The Beguiled starring Elle Fannng, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst, set in an all girls school during the Civil War and said to be a remake of Clint Eastwood’s Southern Gothic which he made in 1971. She would certainly bring plenty of star power to the feast and the timing is right: it is due for a Stateside release in June.

Vincent Lindon and Izia Higelin in Jacques Doillon’s Rodin - another Cannes contender
Vincent Lindon and Izia Higelin in Jacques Doillon’s Rodin - another Cannes contender Photo: Unifrance
Todd Haynes may also return to the fray (two years after Carol) with Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Amy Hargreaves in Wonderstruck.

Michael Haneke reteams Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant from Amour for the ironically titled Happy End dealing with the refugee crisis as a backdrop for a family drama.

Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist) looks a strong contender with Le Redoutable about the relationship between a teenage girl who was wooed by the veteran director Jean-Luc Godard and whom she later married during the making of La Chinoise in 1967. Louis Garrel plays the director and Stacy Martin as his protege with a cast including Bérénice Bejo and Jean-Pierre Mocky. Godard, now 86, has a new film on the stocks Image et Parole but it seems unlikely to be finished in time.

Other French possibilities revolve around Marline, directed by Guillaume Gallienne, with Vanessa Paradis as an actress escaping an alcoholic mother and abusive father to take her chance in the movies; Anne Fontaine with Marvin, about a young gay man escaping a small town and telling his story in a hit play; Bruno Dumont with Jeanette, described as “a musical about Joan of Arc”; and Jacques Doillon with portrait of sculptor Auguste Rodin starring Vincent Lindon. Edouard Deluc also deals with a major art world figure Paul Gaugin, incarnated by Vincent Cassel.

An almost unrecogniseable Louis Garrel as renegade director Jean-Luc Godard in Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable
An almost unrecogniseable Louis Garrel as renegade director Jean-Luc Godard in Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable Photo: Unifrance
An outside prospect is Stephen Frears’s Victoria and Abdul on the relationship between Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria and her Muslim attendant although it is not dues for a release until September making it more likely for a Venice bow. For timing Christopher Nolan’s wartime epic Dunkirk (due to release in the States in July) looks more feasible with an all star cast of Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh.

On the Italian front there are new films available from Silvio Soldini (Emma tells of an executive falling in love with a blind woman) while Paolo Virzi has The Leisure Seeker, a road movie with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland originally announced at last year’s festival.

Throw in to the tantalising mix other new titles from the likes of Wim Wenders (Submergence), Erick Zonca (Fleuve Noir), Joachim Trier (Thelma), André Techiné (Nos années follies); Carlos Reygadas (Where Life Begins), Roman Polanski (D’Aprés une histoire vraie); François Ozon (L’Amant double); Melanie Laurent (Plonger) and Abdellatif Kechiche (Mektoub Is Mektoub) and there is more than enough to satiate the media corps desperate to hear Frémaux’s pronouncements.

Cannes Film Festival programme announcement tomorrow 13 April. The Festival runs from May 17 to 28. The Directors’ Fortnight selection is announced on April 25.

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