All this week, Indiewire will be rolling out our annual Cannes Film Festival Preview, including just about everything you need to know about the festival’s offerings, from the talent behind their creation, to why it’s at Cannes and what we can expect from the final product. Consider these your Cannes cheat sheets, packed with the kind of information and insight you can’t get anywhere else. Check back every day this week to learn more about the films that are poised to make this year’s festival one to remember.
Who Made It? “Citizenfour”
director Laura Poitras, making her Cannes debut with her latest documentary, a
close look at Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Why It Might Be Great: Poitras
is diving into familiar territory with her latest documentary, which turns her
camera on Wikileaks founders Julian Assange. Poitras worked wonders with her
compelling, deeply reported “Citizenfour,” which provided an
insider’s view at a huge story that no one else could have made. Assange’s
story – despite getting the biopic treatment, care of the dismal “The
Fifth Estate” – is desperate for a deep dive, and Poitras is the perfect
person to deliver that.
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Poitras’ first Cannes offering is making its bow in the
Directors’ Fortnight section, a signal as to jsut how seriously the
auteur-leaning section takes her work. This year’s Fortnight is, as ever, a bit
riskier (sorry) than the general lineup, but the inclusion of an Oscar-winning
director with a wild new documentary is probably its safest bet.
When Can I See It? “Risk”
hasn’t yet been picked up for distribution, but its buzzy subject matter and
Poitras’ continually rising star in the documentary world (hello, Academy Award)
should make it a hot buy out of the festival. Is there another awards season in
Poitras’ future? Probably. -Kate Erbland
Who Made It? Pablo Larrain, the writer/director of “No,” one of the best films of 2013, which picked up a Best Foreign Film Oscar nod along the way.
Why It Might Be Great: Aside from the pedigree of last few outings, Larrain is also re-teaming with four performers from “No,” including this film’s two leads Gael García Bernal and Alfredo Castro. The cat-and-mouse thriller premise prominently featuring a literary titan (Luis Gnecco will be playing legendary poet Pablo Neruda) should be an interesting match for Larrain’s patient, perceptive style.
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Larrain has quickly become one of the Chilean film world’s standard-bearers, so a lineup slot at Berlin or Cannes is a perpetual safe bet. The real question is when one of his titles will make the Competition jump.
When Can I See It? With the historical angle, Larrain’s draw among cinephiles and Bernal back at the forefront, it would be a big surprise to not see this in North American theaters soon. If this ends up as Chile’s Oscar submission this year, it’s a virtual lock. -Steve Greene
Who Made It? Backed by supporters on Kickstarter, “Endless Poetry” is 87-year-old Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest feature.
Why It Might Be Great: The film is somewhat autobiographical, and follows Jodorowsky’s childhood where he was liberated from his family and moved into the bohemian circle of 1940s Chilean artists. Upon meeting the then-unknown famous artists Enrique Lihn, Stella Diaz Varin and Nicanor Parra, his artististic and existential passion grew through their friendship. “Endless Poetry” was completing funded by his Kickstarter campaign, which raised around $500,000.
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Premiering in the Directors’ Fortnight section, “Endless Poetry” is thematically tied to Jodorowky’s last feature “The Dance of Reality,” which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
When Can I See It? The distribution rights have not been claimed yet, although Jodorowsky’s last film “The Dance of Reality” was distributed by Pathé. In addition, this is only his second feature since 1990, and towards the end of his career many people are going to want to watch his autobiographical film. Therefore, U.S. distribution is highly likely. -Kristen Santer
“Dog Eat Dog”
Who Made It? Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Schrader is back with yet another crime thriller. Having directed and written “Dog Eat Dog,” Schrader will also star in the film, an unusual move for the veteran screenplay writer.
Why It Might Be Great: Schrader is considered by many to be Hollywood royalty, having written four of Scorsese’s movies, such as “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver,” both of which are considered to be some of the director’s best films. The film tells the tale of a bank robbery gone wrong, where the robbers will go to all lengths to avoid going back to jail. And with A-listers Nicholas Cage and Willem Dafoe set to star, “Dog Eat Dog” might very well be a return to greatness for the revered filmmaker.
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Since his screenplay work in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Schrader has frequently been a guest of Cannes, particularly for his writing, and more recently, his directorial work. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see Schrader come back to the small French town with what will hopefully be critical acclaim.
When Can I See It? The film will see its world premiere at Cannes, and be sold by Arclight Films. And with Schrader, Cage and Dafoe attached, it’ll be strange if it doesn’t find at least some sort of distribution, as limited as it may be. –Riyad Mamedyarov
Who Made It? Legendary Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio, whose previous works “Vincere” and “A Leap in the Dark” have competed at Cannes.
Why It Might Be Great: “Sweet Dreams” is based on the autobiographical best-selling novel by Massimo Gramellini about dealing with the death of his mother at a young age. Berenice Bejo, who received an Oscar nomination for 2011’s “The Artist,” will star alongside Italian A-lister Valerio Mastandrea in this melancholy, but hopefully still uplifting drama.
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Last time Bellocchio attended Cannes, it was in competition with his 2009 historical drama “Vincere.” Before that, he made a huge splash at the festival in 1980 with “A Leap in the Dark,” which picked up both the best actor and best actress award at that year’s festival. Veteran filmmakers often get overlooked for new, shiny talent, but if there is any place where the nuances of an experienced hand will be appreciated, it’s at Cannes.
When Can I See It? The film is still in need of distribution. -Bryn Gelbart
“Two Lovers and a Bear”
Who Made It? Kim Nguyen, whose “War Witch” was feted at Berlinale 2012 and had a near clean sweep at the subsequent Genie Awards.
Why It Might Be Great: Awards proficiency aside, the combination of Nguyen and co-leads Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan would be encourgaring, regardless of the subject matter. That the story takes place in Northern Canada should make for a distinct look and atmosphere. (Plus, the team behind the film was so committed to its visual style that they enlisted local government to help in the effort.)
What’s It Doing at Cannes? Directors’ Fortnight seems like the ideal spot for a relationship study with a potential for some fantastical elements. In many ways the obverse to “War Witch,” Cannes sidebar is a great venue for showing Nguyen’s versatility.