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Cannes Predictions - Part 4: The Irregulars and Up-and-Comers

April 11, 2023
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

The fourth and final part of my prediction series has us looking deeper into the fog. The directors listed are usually the most hungry and ambitious, as they are still looking to make a name for themselves at both the festival and within the world of cinema at large. Their projects may also still have a lot of questions, such as production status or release strategies. But miracles have happened and many of these deserve a coveted spot, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

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!

The Iron Claw

Indie filmmaker Sean Durkin has already impressed both domestic and international critics with his spellbinding psychological exercises. His feature debut of Martha Marcy May Marlene made the trek to the Croisette after its premiere at Sundance, and his next film (distributed by A24) seems Cannes-appropriate. Zac Efron, Harris Dickinson, and Jeremy Allen White star as the Von Erichs, a dynasty of wrestlers who made a great impact on the sport from the 1960s to the present day.

Club Zero

Little Joe director Jessica Hausner had her last film stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing it from being ready in time for last year’s festival. Things are looking much better this year, with Hausner ready to make her second appearance in the competition. She teamed up once again with her usual co-writer Géraldine Bajard in this story about a teacher (Mia Wasikowska) who takes a job at an elite school and forms a strong bond with five students - a relationship that eventually takes a dangerous turn.


Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco has split his time between Cannes and Venice when it comes to premiering his films. His last two works have made the Italian festival their home, but Fremeux may be able to tempt him to return to the Croisette due to the star wattage of Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard leading his new film.

How Do You Live?

With a planned July release date in his native Japan, all signs point to Hayao Miyazaki debuting his latest (and presumably) final film at Cannes. Despite several of his previous films playing at the festival, How Do You Live would mark his first film to premiere before its theatrical release. The titular book has long influenced Miyazaki, who cites it as his favorite childhood read. It’ll tell the story of a teenage boy and the interactions he has with his friends and uncle.


A part of the New Argentine Cinema movement, Lisandro Alonso and his films have moved at a deliberate pace. He’s only directed six feature-length films since 2001, with nearly all of them playing at Cannes. His most recent film, Jauja won the FIPRESCI Prize as part of the 2014 Un Certain Regard selection. He’ll be reteaming with Viggo Mortensen for a story about a man on the search for his daughter after she has been kidnapped. No word has been given on production status, so it remains a mystery if the film is ready.


Jean-Bernard Marlin made a name for himself in 2018 with his Shéhérazade, netting him the award for Best First Feature at that year’s César Awards after its premiere at Cannes Critics’ Week. His next feature will continue to be set in the ganglands of France as it centers on a former gang member who believes his daughter is the only one who can save his Marseille community from an apocalyptic curse uttered by a rival gang member in his dying breath.

Anatomy of a Fall

Justine Triet made her festival debut in 2019 with Sibyl, which was met with mixed reviews. Those reactions would be cause for demotion to one of the sidebars for most filmmakers, but Triet is packing a punch in her sophomore effort with Toni Erdmann star Sandra Hüller leading as a mother accused of killing her husband. Her blind son is the sole witness to the murder, putting him in a grave moral dilemma.


After taking a slight detour in television, 45 Days and Lean on Pete writer/director Andrew Haigh is back to feature filmmaking, and he’s brought together an all-star UK cast to mark the occasion. Andrew Scott will lead the film as a screenwriter who has a chance encounter with his neighbor (Paul Mescal), which pulls him back into his childhood home, where his long-dead parents are mysteriously still alive (Jamie Bell and Claire Foy). Haigh has premiered films at both Venice and Berlin, so it may be time he heads to Cannes, whether it be in competition or one of the sidebars.

Occupied City

Documentary films may not always pack the biggest red carpet potential, but plenty of them have broken out, notably Michael Moore’s Palme d’Or winning Fahrenheit 9/11. Steve McQueen will try to recreate that success with his retelling of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam from 1940-1945. Carrying a blockbuster budget of $5 million, joint distributors A24 and Film4 will likely want a big splashy premiere.

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