Of course, we’re still quite a few months away before this year’s Cannes Film Festival announces its selection of films that will screen, both in and out of competition. But both Tambay and I agree that this is a no-brainer.
Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave for certain, will make its premiere at this year’s festival. So how can we be so confident? Well there are several factors in its favor.
First of all, it’s an independently made, much talked about and anticipated, high profile film with major stars, about a controversial subject matter made by an equally controversial major director. That’s the kind of movie they live for at Cannes.
Second, as I just alluded to, it’s got star power: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfre Woodward, Ruth Negga, Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry among others. And there’s nothing they love more at Cannes than to have movie stars walking up those famous red carpeted steps to the Grande Auditorium on The Palais, for the movie’s premiere, with the world’s paparazzi out in full force.
And it will be the second trip in a row for both Wallis and Henry, who were at Cannes last year for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Also don’t forget that Brad Pitt is not only in the film as well, but also produced and financed the film through his production company Plan B; Pitt has been a Cannes regular for years (he was there last year for Killing Me Softly) and, no doubt, has lots of festival connections.
Then there is also the history that McQueen has with the festival. Remember that in 2008 he won the Camera d’Or award for best first time director, for his feature film debut, Hunger, and they probably would have premiered Shame if the film had been ready in time.
So it’s pretty obvious that the festival is quite anxious to have his latest film, which presumably is now in the final stages of post-production. It’s probably also likely that Cannes programmers have already seen a rough cut of the film, which is how, secretly, a lot of major festivals operate.
After that, the film will most likely be shown at other major festivals such as Venice, Toronto, London and New York, ahead of a fall release, due to its serious subject matter and its potential to be some major Oscar bait.