Looking at the Cannes Film Festival main competition line-up is a necessary and tough route to understanding in which direction the “cinema d’auteur” is heading and what are the trends governing the actual cinema industry.
Without a doubt, the 70th anniversary will be special. Monsieur Fremaux was obliged to put in place an innovative programme, not forgetting the flashes of a glamourous red carpet.
The first surprise is for sure Oscar-winning Alejandro G. Inarritu, who will be presenting “Carne y Arena” (virtually present, physically invisible). This is a conceptual VR installation exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees.
Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander are blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and thoroughly live a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys.
“Carne y Arena employs the highest, never-before-used virtual technology to create a large, multi-narrative light space with human characters. During the four years in which this project has been growing in my mind, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing many Mexican and Central American refugees. Their life stories haunted me, so I invited some of them to collaborate with me in the project,” said four-time Academy Award-winner Iñárritu.
“My intention was to experiment with VR technology to explore the human condition in an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame – within which things are just observed – and claim the space to allow the visitor to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts.”
It is a very political opera at a time when other important festivals like Venice are putting virtual reality in the centre of their programmes.
Other special events organised for the 70th anniversary include the screening of the first two episodes of the “reborn” TV series “Twin Peaks” by David Lynch. This is definitely another surprising and unconventional choice to attract a large public and at the same time create a huge press buzz.
There will also be much interest for Come Swim, a short signed by Kristen Stewart, and for Top of the Lake: China Girl by Jane Campion and Ariel Kleiman.
On the other side of the competition selection, there are signs that this will be a Euro-American edition with Asia present with only three movies from two countries: South Korea and Japan.
The exclusions are also worth noting. For a second consecutive year, countries like Italy and China are out of the main selection, there are also no selections from Africa, South America, India or Iran.
The list of movie directors is balanced between the Cannes stars like Haneke, who could win his third golden palm, Coppola, Hazanavicius and Ozon and other names less known on the Croisette.
If the key themes of the selection, as announced by Fremaux, are going to be love and war with probably a political touch like Jupiter’s Moon by Kornel Mondruczo, it is always interesting to try to predict what will be the surprise of the competition 2017.
Everyone remembers Yorgos Lanthimos last year with his psychological thriller The Lobster, which was not only well received, but able to surprise and please with its innovations. This year Lanthimos returns to Cannes more experienced and with two great actors like the omnipresent Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. The Greek-born director will present The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a horror-drama where a prominent surgeon adopts a teenager into his family, but as the teen’s actions grow increasingly sinister, the doctor is forced to make a terrible decision.
The political touch in any case will be again evident as anticipated by Fremaux, in competition, director Bong Joon-Ho will return to Cannes with Okja, an action adventure film about a young girl trying to protect a giant creature from being exploited by multi-national corporations.
Another welcome back will be for the former US Vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel that sets out to tackle climate change in the Trump’s era. And a documentary, Sea Sorrow by Vanessa Redgrave, will once again address the migrant crisis.