Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch,’ starring Timothée Chalamet, Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan and Tilda Swinton, is one of the highlights of the event, which will screen at other festivals around the world.
The message from the Cannes Film Festival is: Corona or not, the show must go on. The iconic French festival, which was as scheduled to run May 12-23 but was forced to cancel its physical event due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday unveiled its lineup for Cannes 2020, a selection of films that will carry the Cannes brand to screen at other events around the world.
The Cannes 2020 program includes many of the year’s buzziest art house and indie titles — among them Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Naomi Kawase’s True Mothers, François Ozon’s Summer of ’85, ADN aka DNA, directed by, and starring French filmmaker Maïwenn (Polisse) and Thomas Vinterberg’s pro-drinking drama Another Round. (Scroll down for the full line-up).
Pixar’s Soul, the animated feature from Inside Out director Pete Docter, which was widely tipped to have its world premiere in Cannes, also made the cut for the Cannes 2020 selection. Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey and Quest Love are among the voice talents on the picture, whose release Disney has pushed back to November of this year.
British director Steve McQueen, who started his film career in Cannes winning the best first feature award for his 2008 debut Hunger, returns, post-best picture Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, with two films: Lover’s Rock and Mangrove.
Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut Falling, which premiered at this year’s Sundance festival, also scored a Cannes 2020 slot. God’s Own Country director Francis Lee will make his Cannes debut with his new feature, Ammonite, a period drama starring Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan and Fiona Shaw.
Cannes unveiled the Cannes 2020 line-up in the grand but, because of corona restrictions all-but empty UGC Normandie cinema in Paris.
Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux picked a total of 56 films for the Cannes 2020 selection, many of which had planned to premiere on the Croisette. Instead, they will now screen at different partner festivals around the world. The titles will be gathered together in a single list, not split up into the traditional festival categories of Competition, Un Certain regard, Out of competition, Midnight Screenings, and Special Screenings. There is no competition, no jury and no prizes will be awarded. Spike Lee, who would have been president of this year’s Cannes Jury, has been invited to head up the jury for next year’s festival.
The Cannes 2020 titles will screen at numerous partner festivals. Introducing the line-up on Wednesday, Frémaux name-checked events including Toronto, Deauville, San Sebastian, Pusan, Morelia, Angoulême, New York, Rome, Rio, Tokyo, Mumbai, Mar del Plata and Sundance. It is not clear yet whether if those festivals will screen a portion or all of the Cannes 2020 films. San Sebastian, scheduled to run September 18-26, has agreed to allow Cannes 2020 titles to screen in competition for its top honor, the Golden Shell.
In addition to the bigger names, this year’s line-up includes a typical Cannes mix of international arthouse titles. Highlights include Sweat, a Swedish drama from Magnus von Horn, who made his directorial debut with The Here After in Cannes in 2015.
The selected films will also carry the Cannes 2020 brand, which they can use for marketing and promotion purposes as they roll out in theaters. “Cannes is the single most important brand for international arthouse audiences. Cinephiles around the world pay attention to what Cannes selects,” Andrew Frank, VP of sales and acquisitions at Canadian distributor Mongrel Media told The Hollywood Reporter. Mongrel pre-bought Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round for the Canadian market and will be using the Cannes 2020 label as part of its marketing for the film.
Last year’s Festival reasserted the strength of the Cannes brand. Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite used its Palme d’Or win to springboard to a best picture Oscar and a $250 million plus global box office, while the 2019 line-up also delivered such arthouse cross-over titles as Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.
Cannes also released statistics that showed 16, or 28.5 percent, of the films in Official Selection were directed by women, compared to 14 titles (23.7 percent) from last year. A total of 532 female directors submitted their film to the Official Selection, 25.7 percent of the total, compared to 575 female directors registered in 2019.
French and French-language films are particularly well represented in the line-up, with 21 French titles in Cannes 2020, compared to 13 last year. The single Canadian film picked for official selection, Nadia, Butterfly from director Pascal Plante (Fake Tattoos), is also a majority French-language title.
From the start, Frémaux rejected the option of taking Cannes online, as some film festivals, including SXSW, have done. Frémaux is a steadfast supporter of the primacy of the theatrical release. Cannes famously banned Netflix films from its competition line-up. He also refused to cancel Cannes.
“Cancellation has never been an option,” Frémaux said in his speech introducing the line-up on Wednesday. “As you probably know, the Festival was canceled only once, in 1939. And only one other edition did not go to completion, it was in 1968. In 2020, if [the festival] could not take its usual form, it was necessary for it to take another form. It could not just disappear.”
Cannes 2020 Lineup
Wes Anderson — The French Dispatch
Pete Docter — Soul
Francois Ozon — Summer Of 85
Naomi Kawase — True Mothers
Steve McQueen — Lover’s Rock
Steve McQueen — Mangrove
Thomas Vinterberg — Another Round
Maïwenn – ADN
Viggo Mortensen— Falling
Francis Lee – Ammonite
Magnus von Horn — Sweat
Pascal Plante — Nadia, Butterfly
More to come…