Preview: Cannes '17

The Weinsteins are readying their yachts, the arthouse crowds are poised to 'moo' their disapproval and the most prominent film festival is set to sail across the blue waters of the Côte d'Azur.

Arguably, the finest showcase of international talent across the board, Cannes festival programme is a dazzling array of visual media which divide opinion and can leave even highly regarded directors in floods of tears; with 2017 set to be no different.

A full programme can be found at the bottom of this article.

The opening night is frequently a placeholder for films which fall short of the mark to enter into official competition, but this year bucks the trend with Arnaud Desplechin's Ismael's Ghosts starring Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel and Matheiu Amalric - a meta-narrative of a director's old flame returning into the frame as he is about to shoot his next film. A strong cast and the good-will of its nationalistic pride will be hard to knock by any francophile, but this is Cannes - stranger things have happened.

Speaking of Stranger Things, Netflix and Amazon Studios have upped their games and have sought some resolution with the Cannes hierarchy to be able to show-off a selection of their newly acquired films.

Bravely, Netflix are throwing indie darling Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) into the hat, starring none other than Adam Sandler, of whom they have a further four film deal with (the previous two being the abysmal The Ridiculous 6 (2015) and the risible The Do Over (2016)). Their second film is less of a gamble with Bong-Joon Ho's Okja - his second English-language film (the first being Snowpiercer (2013) which was shredded and discarded by the Weinstein Company). Having Bong-Joon Ho's latest project under their arms is the first time Netflix has acquired a well-renowned Far Eastern director under their wing for feature work, possibly indicating a move to satisfy the more discerning end of their customer base rather than the Sandler fans.

Amazon Studios had an incredibly strong showcase at Cannes 2016 - Refn's The Neon Demon, Allen’s Cafe Society, Jarmusch’s Paterson and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. This year's delivery is far less impactful with forerunner, Todd Haynes' follow up to Carol (2016), Wonderstruck, a time-hopping mystery starring festival stalwarts, Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Their only other offering of note is Lynne Ramsay's sex-trafficking drama, You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix, funded by the BFI and Film4.

With the Cannes' line-up not quite fully formed, expect some surprise additions, which may include Amazon Studios acquisitions of American Express (featuring David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron, Thandie Newton and Sharlto Copley) or the eagerly anticipated Luca Guadagino (A Bigger Splash, 2016) Suspiria remake starring Tilda Swinton and Chloe Grace-Moretz.

All the more surprising is that the big studios; Universal, Sony, Warner Bros and Fox, are all absent from any screenings of forthcoming material in or out of competition. Not that they don't have any, but smaller studios and streaming platforms are increasingly getting their claws into indie festival films well before the bigwigs have a chance, as the industry continues its shapeshift into innovotative trends of distribution.

The majority of the remaining competitors reads as a fever dream of enfant terribles, steady hands and second features - from Michael Haneke's Happy End (looking for his third Palme D'Or after taking one home for Amour in 2012) to Yorgos Lanthimos' second English-language feature The Killing Of A Sacred Deer; featuring many of the same faces from his commercial breakout, The Lobster (2015). There are also welcome returns for Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan, 2014) with Loveless, and Sofia Coppolla's all-star The Beguiled after a lukewarm reception of the Emma Watson-led entitled thievery drama,The Bling Ring (2013). There's even hope for Fatih Akin making a return to form with In The Fade after his disappointing last festival film, The Cut (2015).

As always, on the sidelines of the competition, many a distraction can be had.

David Lynch's Twin Peaks gets a two episode airing pre-season, Jane Campion shows off her second season of Top Of The Lake: China Girl (with added Nicole Kidman); Kristen Stewart shows she is more than a competent actor and muse with her debut short, fresh out of Sundance festival, Come Swim; Alejandro Inarritu teams up with his legendary cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, for virtual reality jiggery-pokery with Carne Y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible), and John Cameron Mitchell brings Neil Gaiman's latest story to screen in How to Talk to Girls at Parties. 

A fitting celebration of the 70th festival is topped off with special screenings of Claude Lanzmann's latest joyful documentary, Napalm, and long-time influencial Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami gets his latest experimental compendium of 24 four minute short films out into the open.



Ismael’s Ghosts, dir: Arnaud Desplechin (Out of Competition)


Top of the Lake: China Girl, dirs: Jane Campion & Ariel Kleiman

24 Frames, dir: Abbas Kiarostami

Twin Peaks, dir: David Lynch

Come Swim, dir: Kristen Stewart


Carne Y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible), dir: Alejandro G Inarritu


An Inconvenient Sequel, dirs: Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk

12 Jours, dir: Raymond Depardon

They, dir: Anahita Ghazinizadeh

Keul-Le-Eo-Ui-Ka-Me-La (Clair’s Camera), dir: Hong Sangsoo

Promised Land, dir: Eugene Jarecki

Napalm, dir: Claude Lanzmann

Demons In Paradise, dir: Jude Ratman

Sea Sorrow, dir: Vanessa Redgrave


AK-Nyeo (The Villainess), dir: Jung Byung-gil

Bulhandang (The Merciless), dir: Byun Sung-hyun

Prayer Before Dawn, dir: Jean-Stephane Sauvaire


Mugen Non Junin, (Blade Of The Immortal), dir: Takashi Miike

How To Talk To Girls At Parties, dir: John Cameron Mitchell

Visages, Villages, dir: Agnes Varda & JR


Barbara, dir: Mathieu Amalric (Opening Film)

La Novia Del Desierto (The Desert Bride), dirs: Cecilia Atan & Valeria Pivato

Tesnota (Closeness), dir: Kantemir Balagov

Aala Kaf Ifrit (Beauty And The Dogs), dir: Kaouther Ben Hania

L’Atélier, dir: Laurent Cantet

Fortunata (Lucky), dir: Sergio Castellitto

Las Hijas De Abril (April’s Daughter), dir: Michel Franco

Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (Before We Vanish), dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Lerd (Dregs), dir: Mohammad Rasoulof

En Attendant Les Hirondelles (The Nature of Time), dir: Karim Moussaoui

Apres La Guerre (After The War), dir: Annarita Zambrano

Wind River, dir: Taylor Sheridan

Jeune Femme, dir: Leonor Serraille

Western, dir: Valeska Grisebach

Posoki (Directions), dir: Stephan Komandarev

Out, dir: Gyorgy Kristof


Loveless, dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Good Time, dirs: Benny and Josh Safdie

You Were Never Really Here, dir: Lynne Ramsay

L’Amant Double, dir: Francois Ozon

Jupiter’s Moon, dir: Kornel Mundruczo

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

The Day After, dir: Hang Sangsoo

Redoubtable, dir: Michel Hazanavicius

Wonderstruck, dir: Todd Haynes

Happy End, dir: Michael Haneke

Rodin, dir: Jacques Doillon

The Beguiled, dir: Sofia Coppola

In the Fade, dir: Fatih Akin

The Meyerowitz Stories, dir: Noah Baumbach

Okja, dir: Bong Joon-ho

120 Battements Par Minute, dir: Robin Campillo

Hikari (Radiance), dir: Naomi Kawase

A Gentle Creature, dir: Sergei Loznitsa

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Neil Ramjee

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Film Reviewer.
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