• Festivals

Cannes 2023 – A Good Mix

Cannes is – maybe more than any other festival – where art and commerce meet. Nothing proves this more than this year’s lineup of in and out of competition films, unveiled this morning by the festival’s director Thierry Fremaux and incoming president Iris Knobloch.

No doubt it will be a strong festival with more film heavyweights than in recent history with Scorsese, Koreeda, Haynes, Glazer, Loach, Anderson (Wes, that is), Kaurismäki, Moretti and Wenders among the directors premiering their newest works. Add six first-time filmmakers AND six female directors, a strong global contingent from Africa and Asia as well as Iran, Mongolia and Senegal, and you get the perfect mix.

Ken Loach will show The Old Oak, about the tensions between locals and Syrian refugees in a small mining village in the North-East of England. Jonathan Glazer, the British director in competition who made a name for himself with Sexy Beast but has not made a film after 2013’s Under the Skin, has tackled an adaptation of Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest, about a Nazi officer who falls in love with the wife of the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The film features an international cast with Germany’s Sandra Hüller playing the wife.


Todd Haynes re-teamed with his favorite leading lady Julianne Moore in his May December. Moore plays a woman married to a much younger man and the couple is being interviewed by an actress (Natalie Portman) about their relationship.

In Asteroid City, Wes Anderson adds Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson to his usual cast of characters in this sci-fi story playing out at a junior cadet convention in 1950s’ America. Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Hong Chau add star power to the ensemble cast.


Also vying for the coveted Palme d’Or are Hirokazu Kore-eda (Monster), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (About Dry Grasses), Aki Kaurismäki (Fallen Leaves), Nanni Moretti (Il Sol dell’Avvenire), Tran Anh Hung (La Passion De Dodin Bouffant), Marco Bellocchio (Rapito), Karim Ainouz (Firebrand), Wim Wenders (Perfect Days) and Wang Bing (Jeunesse).

Some might say, it is high time, but programmers have finally broken their record by choosing six (out of 19) competition films from female directors, including France’s Catherine Breillat (L’Eté Dernier) and Justine Triet (Anatomie d’Une Chute), Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher (La Chimera), Austria’s Jessica Hausner (Club Zero), Tunisia’s Kaouther Ben Hania (Four Daughters) and Senegal’s Ramata-Toulaye Sy (Banel et Adama).

And then there are the out-of-competition films that will take the coveted blockbuster spot; following in the footsteps of last year’s Top Gun: Maverick, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, number five in the franchise for Harrison Ford with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mads Mikkelsen co-starring, will have its world premiere on the Croisette. Equally anticipated is Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, a crime drama about the Oklahoma murders in the Osage Nation that happened in the 1920s. Expect all the stars from Leonardo DiCaprio to Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow to pose on the red carpet, along with the cast of Pedro Almodóvar’s second English language film Strange Way of Life, a western about a reunion between two hit men, played by Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.

Are there glaring omissions? Yes. Expectations ran high that Roman Polanski’s and Woody Allen’s newest works would be included, but the controversies around them might have led to their dismissal. The festival also decided against choosing any Russian films.

The opening night film is one with a decidedly French subject: Jeanne du Barry, directed by and starring Maïwenn in the title role opposite Johnny Depp as Louis XV. Last year’s Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund (for Triangle of Sadness) will head the jury. The 76th edition runs May 16-27.