LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The Cannes Film Festival turns 70 this year, and for its anniversary edition, the glamorous cinema showcase will launch star-driven new work from American directors Sofia Coppola ("The Beguiled"), Noah Baumbach ("The Meyerowitz Stories"), and Todd Haynes ("Wonderstruck") -- which should see such celebs as Nicole Kidman, Adam Sandler, and Julianne Moore walking the red carpet -- but not a single Hollywood studio film.
Kidman stars in a whopping four projects at this year's fest: Coppola's "The Beguiled," Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," John Cameron Mitchell's out-of-competition title "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," and Season 2 of Jane Campion's series "Top of the Lake."
The lineup includes fresh features from such world-renowned filmmakers as Michael Haneke ("Happy End"), Andrey Zvyagintsev ("Loveless"), Michel Hazanavicius ("Redoutable"), Naomi Kawase ("Radiance"), and Hong Sangsoo, who brings two films to the Croisette, "The Day After" and the Isabelle Huppert-starrer "Claire's Camera." There are also English-language entries from Greek director Lanthimos (who follows up his Cannes-launched "The Lobster" with "The Killing of a Sacred Deer") and South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho, whose "Okja" stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton.
In all, festival president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Fremaux announced 49 films from 29 countries at Thursday's press conference in Paris, including films from 12 female directors and nine first-time feature helmers.
Despite being the source of so much controversy in world news, Russia makes an especially strong showing this year, whereas prolific film hubs China and India are entirely unrepresented. There is also a surprising lack of new work from Romania, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, which have had strong showings in recent years. "Russia used to be lagging behind," Fremaux said. "This year, we saw many Russian films, many beautiful works which suggest that there is some sort of new wave or a renewed vitality in this big country."
Among other surprises was the inclusion of a virtual reality project from Alejandro G. Inarritu titled "Carne y arena," as well as two television projects, Campion's "Top of the Lake: China Girl" and David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" revival.
The festival will open with French director Arnaud Desplechin's "Ismael's Ghosts," which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marion Cotillard, while Un Certain Regard kicks off with Mathieu Amalric's "Barbara," a biopic of the mono-monikered French chanteuse. The choice of "Ismael's Ghosts" comes two years after Fremaux was strongly criticized for letting the Directors' Fortnight steal away Desplechin's "My Golden Years." (Though not yet announced, Directors' Fortnight is expected to open with Claire Denis' "Black Glasses" and close with Sundance breakout "Patti Cake$," and will surely include a number of high-profile projects left out of the official selection, such as Ruben Ostlund's "The Square" and Bruno Dumont's Joan of Arc musical "Jeanette.")
Fremaux makes a point of never discussing films that were not selected, but addressed several emerging trends at the press conference, including the rise of online distributors and the explosion of high-end TV drama. "Basically, two big players have appeared in the last few years, Amazon and Netflix, which are two new operators for filmmakers, producers, and for festivals," he said, pointing out that Amazon had more films in competition last year.
Both "Okja" and "The Meyerowitz Stories" are Netflix original productions (though Fremaux described the latter as a Scott Rudin production), while Amazon Studios backed both "Wonderstruck" and Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here," which Fremaux said was not yet done but was accepted with three scenes still to shoot.
"Regarding the situation with Netflix, it's a unique and unheard-of situation for us. After discussing it at length with Pierre Lescure [and the team, we came to the conclusion that] the Cannes festival is a lab," Fremaux said. "We're not going to start debating here the fact that even [television] series, unless proven otherwise, are using the classical art of filmmaking and of cinematic narration....It's because those two series are signed Jane Campion and David Lynch, who are filmmakers and friends of the Cannes Film Festival, that we are showing their work."
As it is, France already hosts several television festivals, with a new one called Cannes Series coming to the city next April, while the Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, and SXSW fests now all feature series sections. But Fremaux was firm that his event would not follow suit. "As you know, our friends at the Berlin Film Festival opened a section for series. That's not our intention. The Cannes Film Festival is a festival of films."
Although the 2017 lineup was announced Thursday, Fremaux suggested that there's always the possibility that Cannes may add one or two more titles before the start of this year's event, which will run May 17-28. Scheduled to take place at the same time but not part of the "official selection," Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week will be announcing their lineups later this month.
2017 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP OPENER "Ismael's Ghosts" (Arnaud Desplechin).
COMPETITION "120 Beats per Minute" (Robin Campillo).
"The Beguiled" (Sofia Coppola).
"The Day After" (Hong Sangsoo).
"A Gentle Creature" (Sergei Loznitsa).
"Good Time" (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie).
"Happy End" (Michael Haneke).
"In the Fade" (Fatih Akin).
"Jupiter's Moon" (Kornel Mundruczo).
"The Killing of a Sacred Deer" (Yorgos Lanthimos).
"L'amant double" (Francois Ozon).
"Le redoubtable" (Michel Hazanvicius).
"Loveless" (Andrey Zvyagintsev).
"The Meyerowitz Stories" (Noah Baumbach).
"Okja" (Bong Joon-Ho).
"Radiance" (Naomi Kawase).
"Rodin" (Jacques Doillon).
"Wonderstruck" (Todd Haynes).
"You Were Never Really Here" (Lynne Ramsay).
UN CERTAIN REGARD "After the War" (Annarita Zambrano).
"April's Daughter" (Michel Franco).
"Barbara" (Mathieu Amalric). OPENER
"Beauty and the Dogs" (Kaouther Ben Hania).
"Before We Vanish" (Kiyoshi Kurosawa).
"Closeness" (Kantemir Balagov).
"The Desert Bride" (Cecilia Atan & Valeria Pivato).
"Directions" (Stephan Komandarev).
"Dregs" (Mohammad Rasoulof).
"Jeune femme" (Leonor Serraille).
"L'Atelier" (Laurent Cantet).
"Lucky" (Sergio Castellitto).
"The Nature of Time" (Karim Moussaoui).
"Out" (Gyorgy Kristof).
"Western" (Valeska Grisebach).
"Wind River" (Taylor Sheridan).
OUT OF COMPETITION "Blade of the Immortal" (Takashi Miike).
"How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (John Cameron Mitchell).
"Visages, Villages" (Agnes Varda & JR).
MIDNIGHT SCREEENINGS "Prayer Before Dawn" (Jean-Stephane Sauvaire).
"The Merciless" (Byun Sung-Hyun).
"The Villainess" (Jung Byung-Gil).
SPECIAL SCREEENINGS "12 Jours" (Raymond Depardon).
"An Inconvenient Sequel" (Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk).
"Claire's Camera" (Hong Sangsoo).
"Demons in Paradise" (Jude Ratman).
"Napalm" (Claude Lanzmann).
"Promised Land" (Eugene Jarecki).
"Sea Sorrow" (Vanessa Redgrave).
"They" (Anahita Ghazvinizadeh).
70TH ANNIVERSARY EVENTS "24 Frames" (Abbas Kiarostami).
"Come Swim" (Kristen Stewart).
"Top of the Lake" (Jane Campion).
"Twin Peaks" (David Lynch).
VIRTUAL REALITY "Carne y arena" (Alejandro G. Inarritu).
Watch Nicole Kidman in 'Windrider' at SBS On Demand:
What's it about?
A rock singer (Nicole Kidman) falls for a wealthy man's son (Tom Burlinson) who professionally windsurfs the coast of Western Australia. His career is put at risk as the romance progresses.