Looking over the official selection of the 61st Festival de Cannes, there’s plenty to get excited about. I’m sure there will be even more to enthrall us once the lineups for the Director’s Fortnight and Critics Week are announced, but so far, it looks like a diverse program. The prestigious Competition slate includes new work from arthouse masters such as the Dardenne brothers, Walter Salles, Wim Wenders, Philippe Garrel, and Arnaud Desplechin. Representing North America in the competition are massively anticipated new features from Steven Soderbergh, Charlie Kaufman, Atom Egoyan, and Clint Eastwood. And, if the main competition lacks a female presence (and it really does), the other sections try to make up for it. In the Un Certain Regard sidebar, Old Joy director Kelly Reichardt will debut her latest, Wendy and Lucy. On a personal level, I’m excited about this one. Kelly is a SXSW alum, and this new film was co-produced by friend (and Hannah Takes the Stairs producer) Anish Savjani.
Speaking of female directors, Jennifer Lynch will bring her first film since Boxing Helena to the Midnight section, a crime piece called Surveillance. And, how’s this for novel? Acclaimed Bosnian filmmaker Emir Kusturica will premiere his documentary on controversial soccer star Diego Maradona in the midnight slot, too. Maradona is a recovering cocaine addict, so I guess we can assume the slot speaks to the film’s pace and tone. Along those same lines, hit-or-miss American filmmaker James Toback will debut his documentary about controversial boxer Mike Tyson (in Un Certain Regard). That could make for an interesting double feature. Another interesting addition in Un Certain Regard is the latest film, Soi Cowboy, by British filmmaker Thomas Clay. Clay shocked audiences at Cannes a few years ago with his debut, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael (which had its North American premiere at SXSW).
Rounding out the high profile entries announced so far, the “Out of Competition” selections include Woody Allen’s latest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the previously-announced Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Plus, Oscar-nominated animator (and brother of Kent) Mark Osborne will have Dreamworks behind him as he unveils his feature, Kung Fu Panda. Some may wonder, “what do a kung fu panda and the Dardenne brothers have to do with one another?” If so, they don’t understand Cannes.