by Melanie Goodfellow, Wendy Mitchell, Jeremy Kay, Gabriele Niola, Jean Noh, Screen Daily
The Cannes Film Festival was due to unveil the Official Selection for its 73rd edition in Paris today (April 16) until the Covid-19 pandemic forced it to cancel its scheduled May 12-23 dates and subsequently abandon plans for a new slot beginning end-June.
As of today, no new dates had been announced although the festival has said it is exploring other options to keep its work alive. Delegate general Thierry Frémaux has said that he and his selection team will continue to watch and assess submissions until early June.
But what then? Will the festival set a new date in the autumn or hook up with other events? If that’s not an option, will Frémaux announce his Official Selection regardless of whether it can be shown on the big screen? Or will he let go of the films that he and his selection committee have spent the year scouting, watching and reeling in? The latter course of action would be a deeply painful outcome for Frémaux.
Yesterday, parallel sidebars Cannes Critics’ Week, Directors’ Fortnight and ACID confirmed that they were cancelling their 2020 editions.
In this unprecedented chapter in the festival’s history, Screen has decided to go ahead with its annual ’Cannes: Who’s In The Running’ list. It is an opportunity to take stock of the productions that were hoping to get a shot at premiering in Official Selection or the sidebars and still need support to connect them to audiences around the world.
Given the ongoing global production hiatus, these are a selection of the prestige films that will now most likely be available to festivals for the rest of 2020 and, perhaps, even later on into 2021.
It was an open secret Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch would debut in Official Selection. With its vast ensemble cast, led by Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux and Bill Murray, it promised to be one of the festival’s most exciting red carpets. Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures recently re-dated the film from July 24 to the prime fall festival and awards season slot of October 16.
Ana Lily Amirpour has been on festival radars throughout the early stage of her career and after The Bad Batch premiered in Venice four years ago, Cannes was plausible for her latest, Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon. The fantasy about a girl with special powers who heads to New Orleans stars Kate Hudson and Korean actor Jeon Jong-seo from Burning.
Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, her follow-up to 2017 Directors’ Fortnight selection The Rider, stars Frances McDormand as a near penniless woman in her sixties who travels across the United States. The film was looking like a strong choice for Competition but was in post as the pandemic struck.
Heidi Ewing’s hybrid drama I Carry You With Me following the enduring love of two Mexican men against the odds was angling for an international premiere having debuted at Sundance to critical acclaim.
There was also strong buzz around Norwegian actress-filmmaker Mona Fastvold’s English-language drama The World To Come about two women who forge a close connection despite their isolation in the mid-19th-century American frontier. Casey Affleck produces, under his Sea Change Media banner, and co-stars alongside Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby and Jesse Plemons.
Strong candidates for out-of-Competition slots included Pixar’s Soul and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise. Frémaux even went so far as to namecheck both in a recent interview. However, both films have been postponed now until the end of the year.
The current July 17 release date for Christopher Nolan’s Warner Bros action thriller Tenet would have worked with start-June, end-July. Nolan has never premiered a film in Cannes but is a staunch supporter of the big-screen experience.
Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg had been expected to take a third shot at the Palme d’Or with Another Round but sales company TrustNordisk has said the film is still in post-production and is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020. Vinterberg previously won the Cannes jury prize for The Celebration in 1998 and competed with The Hunt in 2012, for which Mikkelsen won best actor.
Also out of Denmark, Fredrik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm’s gritty police drama Shorta also held potential for a Cannes bow.
Anticipation had also been building around Norwegian director Eskil Vogt’s The Innocents, his second feature as a director after Sundance award-winner Blind. Vogt also co-wrote Joachim Trier’s 2015 Palme d’Or contender Louder Than Bombs and Oslo, August 31st which premiered in Un Certain Regard in 2011. The supernatural thriller is about a group of children aged from six to 12 who reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking.
Further Nordic hopefuls included Finnish-Iranian director Hamy Ramezan’s semi-autobiographical drama Any Day Now about a 13-year-old boy making a new life in a Finnish village whose world is turned upside down when his family is turned down for asylum. The film is produced by Aamu, the Helsinki-based production house behind 2016 Un Certain Regard selection The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki.
Swedish Cannes hopefuls included Sweat by Magnus Van Horn, whose debut feature The Here After impressed in Directors’ Fortnight in 2015. It revolves around an online celebrity fitness trainer looking for true intimacy away from the eyes of the social networks.
Ninja Thyberg makes her long-awaited feature directorial debut with Jessica, about a young Swedish woman navigating the porn industry of Los Angeles, which was also a hotly tipped title. Thyberg’s short Pleasure won a prize at Cannes Critics’ Week, and Cannes seemed a likely home for her adventurous debut.
Iceland’s Cannes hopes had been pinned on Lamb, a supernatural drama starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason as as an Icelandic couple who adopt a newborn child that is half-human, half-sheep. First-time feature director Valdimar Jóhannsson co-wrote the script with acclaimed Icelandic author and poet Sjón.
Estonian filmmaker Veiko Ounpuu’s contemporary Nordic Western The Last Ones, set against the backdrop of Finnish Lapland, had also been submitted.
Lamb - Dir. Valdimar Jóhannsson
Director of Photography: Eli Arenson