Cannes Film Festival 2011: Preview

With a week to go until the highly anticipated 2011 edition of the Cannes Film Festival gets underway, CineVue takes a brief look at some of the award front runners and exciting program choices which comprise this year’s lineup.

As always, a plethora of distinguished guests and world-cinema stars will grace the red carpet in the eleven days running the 11th to the 22nd May, and this year the judging panel alone contains the likes of Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Jude Law. With its delightful fusion of stars, experts, critics and audiences it is of no wonder why Cannes is viewed as the most important festival in the world, an event which always springs surprises and is consistently executed with…how should I say?…a certain Je ne sais quoi.

This year the main competition sees a number of veterans return to compete for the coveted Palme d’Or, a prize which is heralded as a pinnacle of cinematic achievement and an accolade that I’m sure all competing will be eager to win. With new films from Aki Kaurismäki, Lars von Trier, Pedro Almodóvar and Terrence Malick to name only a few, this year’s competition promises to be one of the most exciting and closely fought contests of the festival’s recent history. Who will become the chief proprietor of this award? Only time will tell, but in anticipation CineVue has picked out some of the more interesting prospects, as well as some choices which are certain to provoke and engage serious debate and discussion: 

Lars von Trier | Melancholia
The king of controversy back in 2009 (where Antichrist caused outrage and polarized the critics), returns with his “beautiful movie about the end of the world”. CineVue checked out the trailer and it looks a very interesting feature; somewhat of a cross between Gosford Park (2001) and Armageddon (1998) is what we can deduce from it, obviously all combined with Von Trier’s unmistakable grandiloquent dusting. Its cast is impressive, boasting Keifer Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg in its ranks. Hopefully this time round Gainsbourg ‘s character isn’t given another pair of blunt, rusty scissors.

Terrence Malick | The Tree of Life
Yes, the belated unveiling of The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn will be one of the features in competition at this year’s festival. Originally tipped to premiere at last year’s festival Terrence Malick’s inter-generational drama will be a hot-prospect, especially considering the fact that it has been an exhausting and arduous project whose production has already spanned several years.

Lynne Ramsay | We Need to Talk About Kevin
Along with other female directors such as Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay is at the forefront of the Great British women’s cinema movement and her new offering is an adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s testy and controversial novel We Need to Talk About Kevin. Scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood the film follows the story of a mother recounting the events that lead up to and follow her son’s massacre of students and teachers at his high school.

Pedro Almodóvar | La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In)
Inventive, intuitive, an architect of colour… there is a lot that can be said about Spanish director Pedro Almodovar – every film he turns out is interesting in some way or another. The director has described his latest film as “a horror story without screams or frights”. This could set Cannes alight!

Takashi Miike | Ichemei (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai)
Following his recent Samurai epic 13 Assassins (2010) (which will be reviewed by CineVue shortly) “shock” philosopher Takeshi Miike revisits his new stomping ground of period set action drama alongside Oscar-winning producers Jeremy Thomas and Toshiaki Nakazawa. Will it be as stylishly violent as his most recent offering? One thing is for sure…it’s the first 3D film to ever premiere in competition at Cannes. We can’t wait!

The other notable entrants this year include: Aki Kaurismäki | Le Havre; Bertrand Bonello | L’Apollonide – Souvenirs de la Maison Close (House of Tolerance); Alain Cavalier | Pater; Joseph Cedar | Hearat Shulayim (Footnote); Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Bir Zamanlar Anadoli’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia); Naomi Kawase | Hanezu No Tsuki; Julia Leigh | Sleeping Beauty; Maïwenn Le Besco | Polisse; Radu Mihaileanu | La Source des Femmes (The Source); Markus Schleinzer | Michael; Paolo Sorrentino | This Must be the Place and Nicholas Winding Refn | Drive, whilst previous Palme d’Or winners the Dardenne brothers (Jean-Pierre & Luc) and Nanni Moretti complete this year’s lineup with their respective films Le Gamin au Vélo (The Kid with a Bike) and Habermus Papam (We Have a Pope).

CineVue will post updates and announcements throughout the duration of this year’s festival. For more information follow @CineVue on Twitter or visit the CineVue Facebook page.

Stephen Leach