As expected, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux has selected Woody Allen’s latest, "Café Society," to open the 69th Festival International du Film de Cannes (May 11 to 22). The film will make its world premiere on Wednesday 11 May in the Palais des Festivals’ Grand Théâtre Lumière, per usual for Woody Allen, as an Official Selection Out of Competition title. It’s a record-breaking coup for the New York director who has already opened the Festival twice, with "Hollywood Ending" (2002) and "Midnight in Paris" (2011).
The Competition Jury will be presided over by George Miller, and the Official Selection titles are due to be announced on April 14 (Indiewire takes a stab at what they might be here).
Cannes veteran Jesse Eisenberg, who starred in last year’s Competition entry, Joachim Trier’s "Louder than Bombs" (April 8), moves from Lex Luthor in franchise blockbuster "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" to playing a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry. There he falls in love with a woman played by frequent Cannes attendee and César-winner Kristen Stewart (Olivier Assayas’ "Clouds of Sils Maria"). Eisenberg and Stewart also co-starred in 2009’s "Adventureland," directed by Greg Mottola.
The $30 million period "Café Society" was so expensive that Allen pacted with deep-pocketed Amazon, and not his usual distributor Sony Pictures Classics, to release the film stateside. Thus we can expect Amazon’s rising Hollywood powerbrokers Roy Price, Ted Hope and Bob Berney to walk the red carpet on opening night to accompany their first Cannes opener.
"Café Society" also features Blake Lively, Parker Posey and Steve Carell. Woody Allen also joined forces on the film with Oscar-winning cinematographer and 1991 Cannes jury member Vittorio Storaro ("Apocalypse Now," "Reds," "The Last Emperor").
From "Manhattan" in 1979 to "Irrational Man" in 2015, this marks triple-threat Allen’s fourteenth Out of Competition selection at Cannes. The New York director born on 1 December 1935 has been directing virtually a film a year since the 1970s after his career launch in 1965 with "What’s New Pussycat?" which he both wrote and acted in. Then came his directorial debut "What’s Up Tiger Lily?" in 1966. He soon began to star in his own films, going on to win four Oscars out of 20 nominations ("Annie Hall" in 1978, "Hannah and Her Sisters" in 1987 and "Midnight in Paris" in 2012).
"Café Society" was produced by Letty Aronson (Gravier Productions), Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson, as a co-production with Helen Robin (Perdido Productions). Executive producers were Ronald L. Chez, Adam B. Stern and Marc I. Stern. In France, the film will hit theatres to coincide with the official opening of the Festival de Cannes on Wednesday 11 May, 2016.
The opening ceremony, hosted by Laurent Lafitte, will be broadcast by Canal +.