The Cannes screening list announcement for 2023 promises a rich array of Palme d’Or candidates and further excitement in other programmes. Several of our most lauded auteurs on this blog have films in competition. Kore-eda Hirokazu will get to meet Ken Loach again and Nuri Bilge Ceylan returns alongside Tran Anh Hung, Marco Bellocchio, Wim Wenders and Aki Kaurismäki. Younger auteurs also make an appearance led by Alice Rohrwacher and newcomer Ramata-Toulaye Sy from Senegal. This pair are part of a six-strong group of women with the return of Catherine Breillat, Justine Triet (whose first film, In Bed with Victoria, was well received by me, at least), Jessica Hausner from Austria and Kaouther Ben Hania from Tunisia. Wes Anderson and Todd Haynes make up the American ‘independent’ contingent and the Brazilian director Karim Ainouz competes with an English language film. That leaves Nanni Moretti with Italy’s third entry and, in a very welcome comeback, Jonathan Glazer with the second UK entry. China’s Wang Bing is also in the mix with a documentary, Jeunesse. Details of Jeunesse are hard to find, but it looks like a French co-production and there is a discernible trend in the films selected for films made in English or French or with support from the UK or France which both have specific support schemes for co-productions.
There are several previous Palme d’Or winners in this selection of directors. It’s good to see more women in the mix but there is still a some way to go. The other issue for a Festival that sees itself as offering the ultimate film prize for international cinema is its heavy emphasis on European cinema. While I’m pleased to see two African directors included, they both represent francophone Africa which is usually the case at Cannes. Having said that there are only three French films alongside the African entries, one at least made by the Vietnamese Tran Anh Hung. Otherwise there is only one film from Japan and one from Brazil (by an Algerian director working in English) and one from a Chinese director. No films from India – no doubt that there are good reasons for the final mix, but I still feel that Cannes could try harder. But then it isn’t quite the final mix as there is a suggestion that two or three more titles that might be added to the main competition before Cannes opens on May 16th.
Sometimes the other official strands such as Un Certain Regard do widen the talent pool. I note that Warwick Thornton from Australia features in this strand and there appear to be titles from South Korea, Iran, Singapore (Anthony Chen), Mongolia (a first film by Zoljargal Purevdash) and several more territories. Un Certain Regard is often the selection that brings us the most surprising and rewarding films that aren’t weighed down by the baggage that goes with the Palme d’Or selection.
Elsewhere there are potentially key films that get the privilege of a Cannes screening ‘Out of Competition’. They include the only Indian director who regularly gets to Cannes, Anurag Kashyap with the premiere of Kennedy in a ‘Midnight Screening’ and the film that seems to have got the most attention, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, reputedly with a $200 million budget. It’s scheduled for an October cinema release from Paramount and an as yet undated streaming release by Apple+. It does sound worth seeing, being based on events in the 1920s involving the investigation of murders of members of the Osage nation in Oklahoma. I have ignored some of the other high profile films out of competition but I must mention Steve McQueen’s Occupied City, a documentary about the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam where McQueen now has his base. It’s a four hour film based on the book by his wife and working partner Bianca Stigter. Finally, I’d like to mention premieres out of competition of films by directors we favour – Kitano Takeshi, Martin Provost, Victor Erice and Katell Quillévéré. It looks like it is going to be a vintage year.