The Opening Ceremony of the 66th Festival de Cannes took place yesterday in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.
“Behind the Candelabra”
Steven Soderbergh won the Palme d’Or with his first film, “sex, lies and videotape” in 1989, and he’s back in the running for his final film, a Liberace story he made for HBO when he couldn’t get a studio to back it.
James Gray has competed at Cannes with “The Yards,” “We Own the Night” and “Two Lovers,” and is back with his historical drama set in New York in the 1920s, with a powerhouse cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix.
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Joel and Ethan Coen won the Palme d’Or with “Barton Fink” 22 years ago, while “Fargo” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There” also picked up best-director awards at Cannes. They could mine a (typically twisted?) vein of nostalgia with this look at the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, with a lead character loosely based on Dave Van Ronk.
The fifth film from French director Arnaud Desplechin to screen in competition at Cannes, “Jimmy P.” stars Benicio del Toro as a Native American returning from World War II, and Mathieu Amalric as the therapist trying to help him adjust.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is coming off the Oscar-winning “A Separation,” and making his Cannes debut with a French-language drama starring “A Separation” star Tahar Rahim and “The Artist” leading lady Berenice Bejo.
A member of the Cannes jury last year, Alexander Payne returns to a competitive slot for the first time since “About Schmidt” with his black-and-white road movie starring Will Forte and, in a performance already picking up heavy awards buzz, Bruce Dern.
“Only Lovers Left Alive”
Can a vampire movie win the Palme d’Or? Probably not, but in the hands of Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger Than Paradise,” “Mystery Train” and “Broken Flowers,” all of which won awards at Cannes) and a cast that includes Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, it can be stylish and unsettling.
“Un Chateau en Italie”
The only female director in the main competition (though four of the nine jurors are women), actress-turned-director Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi has cast herself and her partner Filippo Timi in a dramatic comedy about family troubles.
Director Jia Zhangke uses four different stories to paint a picture of violence in modern China. With the country emerging as a key player in worldwide cinema, is it time for the first Chinese winner at Cannes in 20 years?
“Venus in Furs”
Roman Polanski is a lightning rod for controversy, but he’s also one of only three directors in competition (Soderbergh and the Coens being the others) who’s already won the Palme d’Or. Based on the play by David Ives, “Venus in Furs” deals with sexual obsession and sounds as if it could be dark and kinky.
“Le Dernier des Injustes”
Claude Lanzmann is known for a single film, “Shoah,” a monumental work documenting the Holocaust. So it’s big news when the 87-year-old director turns his sights on the topic again, as he does with this chronicle of the Theresienstadt ghetto, created by the Nazis to fool observers and hide their real plans for the Jews.
It was somewhat shocking when the new film from iconic filmmaker Claire Denis landed in Un Certain Regard rather than the main competition – but Jean-Luc Godard was in the same spot in 2010, so UCR is obviously amenable to both legends and newcomers.
“Seduced and Abandoned”
Director James Toback can be intriguing, annoying and challenging in equal measure, and he may well be all three at once with Cannes’ special screening of this film, a documentary about filmmaking, art, money and glamour shot by Toback and Alec Baldwin at last year’s Cannes.