From an African-American detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan to Kurdish female fighters battling jihadists, here are the movies vying for the top Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes film festival, to be awarded yesterday by a jury led by Cate Blanchett.
Iranian master Asghar Farhadi kicked off the festival with a psychological thriller about a family reunion going awry, featuring Spanish stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. While Farhadi, 46, won an Oscar and the Golden Bear at Berlin for his 2011 breakthrough film, “A Separation”, he is yet to take home the coveted top Cannes prize.
US director and activist Spike Lee’s drama is based on the real-life story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1978. John David Washington plays the officer with Adam Driver as his Jewish police partner. The film will open in the US on the first anniversary of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville where an anti-racism activist was killed.
Under the Silver Lake
Four years after giving Cannes audiences nightmares with his thriller “It Follows”, David Robert Mitchell returned with a noirish spine-chiller, this time about the mysterious murder of a Los Angeles billionaire.
Italian director Matteo “Gomorrah” Garrone’s new film is dubbed an “urban Western”, inspired by a gruesome murder by dog groomer and cocaine addict Pietro De Negri in the late 1980s.
Iranian dissident Jafar Panahi was barred from travelling to attend the Cannes premiere of “Three Faces”, the latest movie he has made despite a 20- year filmmaking ban levelled by Tehran over his support for anti-government protests. The road movie, in which Panahi co-stars, portrays three generations of Iranian women rebelling against patriarchal authority.
Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov is another director barred from presenting his work at Cannes. Under house arrest over highly disputed allegations of embezzlement, his film focuses on Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi and the birth of Russian underground music in the 1980s.
As France grapples with rail strikes and student protests, French director Stephane Brize’s gritty drama about factory workers battling to keep their jobs has hit a timely nerve.
This tender black-and-white period romance about star-crossed lovers who meet as part of a touring folk group in the Eastern Bloc in the 1950s is the latest from Oscar-winning Polish-British director Pawel Pawlikowski. It was financed by Amazon Studios.
The Image Book
Cinema’s oldest and most enigmatic rebel, French-Swiss legend Jean-Luc Godard, returns to the bold, sometimes baffling style of his late work with this meditation on the big questions of our time — war, migration, the survival of the planet.
Girls of the Sun
Kurdish women fighters battling the Islamic State are at the centre of French actor-director Eva Husson’s new film. Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani plays Bahar, the leader of the Yazidi Sun Brigade, who hunts down the extremists who had earlier captured her.
The Wild Pear Tree
Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the Palme d’Or four years ago for “Winter Sleep”, is back with another Anatolian talkie, this time about a young provincial writer raging at his father.
– Ayka –
Kazakh Sergey Dvortsevoy — who won many fans and prizes for his 2009 debut “Tulpan” — was a late entry with his new docu-drama about a young homeless single mother in post-Soviet Central Asia adrift in Moscow.
Lebanese actress-turned-film-maker Nadine Labaki’s third movie is set in a Middle Eastern town. Her previous film “Where Do We Go Now?” premiered at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section in 2010.
South Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong’s new mystery drama is drawn from a short story by Japanese master Haruki Murakami, “Barn Burning”, about a writer who becomes fascinated by a woman whose boyfriend burns barns. His first film in eight years, the cult director of “Oasis” and “Secret Sunshine” has an almost fanatical following.
Knife + Heart
French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis stars in the latest tale from Yann Gonzalez, who had a hit on the festival circuit with his quirky orgy drama, “You And The Night”, with Beatrice Dalle and former footballer Eric Cantona. Paradis plays a porn producer whose stars are targeted by a serial killer.
Asako 1 & 2
In this Japanese drama by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, a young woman meets her first love in Osaka. When he disappears without a trace, she moves on — until his perfect double shows up two years later. – Shoplifters –
Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-Eda, a longtime sweetheart of the Cannes jury, returns with a tale of a family of small-time crooks who take in a child they find on the street.
A Coptic leper and his orphaned Nubian apprentice nicknamed Obama embark on a journey across Egypt to search for their roots. Director A.B. Shawky made the film on a shoestring with amateur actors.
Rising star Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, already a prize winner at Cannes, is back with a time-travelling story about a group of sharecroppers duped into working for a family from the fallen aristocracy.
The new film by Christophe Honore, the man behind the charming French musical “Love Songs”, is a gay love story set when the AIDS epidemic was at its height.
Ash is Purest White
Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s new film is an epic love story between a mobster and his moll starring Zhao Tao and Liao Fan. It is a follow-up to his “Mountains May Depart”, which also competed for the Palme d’Or in 2015, reports AFP, Cannes, France.