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Cannes Predictions - Part 1: The Festival Masters

April 1, 2023
By:
Hunter Friesen
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As one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival always attracts the attention of cinephiles and industry professionals alike. Each year, the festival presents a diverse lineup of films that represent the best of international cinema, including both established and emerging filmmakers. With the 76th edition of the festival set to take place in May, film enthusiasts around the world are eagerly anticipating the announcement of the official selection on April 13th.


While the festival organizers keep their cards close to their chest, there are already some strong players emerging as likely contenders for the coveted Cannes spotlights. In this four-part series, I’ll take a closer look at some of the films that are generating buzz and predict which ones are likely to make it to the Croisette this year.


Each part will represent a category of films, which are:

The Festival Masters

Hollywood Makes a Splash

The Festival Mainstays

The Irregulars and Up-and-Comers


This first part will cover films from people I like to call “Cannes Masters.” These are filmmakers that have either debuted several high-profile films at the festival and/or won an award such as the Palme d’Or. Cannes is a festival built upon relationships, and these auteurs have been steady as a rock for so many years.


Which of these films are you most interested in? I'll be keeping you all posted on my adventures and sharing my thoughts on the films that I see. Stay tuned for more updates!


Monster

After making his Korean-language debut last year with Broker, Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda returns to his native language with Monster. Plot details are scarce, with only an international teaser giving us glimpses into the story. Kore-eda has been a mainstay at the festival for over twenty years, with Shoplifters winning the Palme d’Or in 2018, so a return to the festival is nearly certain.


About Dry Grasses

As one of the most lauded filmmakers in modern festival history, Nuri Bilge Ceylan has more than earned himself a lifetime membership to the official competition. The Turkish director has won a Palme d’Or, The Grand Prize of Jury twice, and the Best Director award. His newest film will likely be another philosophical slow-burn, as it tells the story of a teacher who regains his perspective on life after he has been given mandatory duty in a small village.


The Captain

Matteo Garrone hopped on the Pinocchio trend before it was cool, delivering his own charmingly creepy version of the famed fairy tale in 2019. The film marked a break from Cannes after four consecutive films in competition, with Reality and Gomorra both winning the Grand Prize of the Jury. His new film, The Captain, will follow two men as they immigrate to Europe from Senegal.


Kidnapped

If Kidnapped is selected for the official competition, it would mark the fifth consecutive decade where Marco Bellocchio has a film competing for the Palme d’Or. He last made an appearance in 2021 with a documentary on his twin brother called Marx Can Wait and in 2019 with the crime biopic The Traitor. Announced to be his final film, Kidnapped is an adaptation of a story Steven Spielberg was set to make years prior, about a Jewish boy who was kidnapped and converted to Catholicism in 1858.


The Old Oak

The only certain things in life are death and taxes… and a Ken Loach film will compete for the Palme d’Or. The famed British director has had sixteen of his films in the Official Competition, a festival record he certainly expanded with his newest film, which sees him reteam with writer Paul Laverty for the thirteenth time. Together they’ll tell the story of a town in northern England adjusting to a wave of Syrian refugees.


A Brighter Tomorrow

Not even the career-worst review for Three Floors will be able to keep Nanni Moretti out of the competition. The Italian multi-hyphenate has had an extremely lucrative relationship with the festival, winning the Best Director award for Dear Diary in 1994 and the Palme d’Or for The Son’s Room in 2001. His new film is described to be a “complex and costly costumer” set in Rome between the 1950s and the 1970s amid the city’s circus world, but will also involve the world of cinema.


Red Island

Robin Campillo will likely return to the festival that awarded 2017’s BPM (Beats Per Minute) with the Grand Prize of the Jury along with the Queer Palm. He also has the Palme d’Or sitting on his trophy shelf for 2008’s The Class. His newest film will also be set in recent history as it follows the upbringing of a young boy during the French colonial rule of Madagascar in the 1960s/1970s.


L'Empire

Cahiers du Cinéma darling Bruno Dumont has been a staple of Cannes for nearly a decade, premiering his last four films at the festival, with the most recent being 2021’s France with Lea Seydoux. His new film will be a slight departure from his usual work as it takes place within the science fiction genre. Camille Cottin and Lyna Khoudri (one of the many stars within The French Dispatch) headline as inhabitants of a small town that becomes a battleground for undercover extraterrestrial knights.


The Perfumed Hill

Hailing from Mauritania, Abderrahmane Sissako has released only three films this century, but they all premiered at Cannes, with 2014’s Timbuktu also being nominated for the Best International Feature Oscar. Production was supposed to begin in late 2019, but was first delayed by financial difficulties, and then by the pandemic. He will tell a globe-trotting story as a girl leaves her fiancé on the altar and suddenly moves from the Ivory Coast to China.

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