May 17, 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017: Eight things to look out for

Stars from around the world are heading to Cannes for the prestigious film festival, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson are among those set to be walking the red carpet.

The festival opens with Ismael's Ghosts - a French film starring Marion Cotillard - on Wednesday.

As the French Riviera resort welcomes the film world for the 11-day event, here's what to expect.

1. Seeing Nicole Kidman everywhere

Nicole Kidman
 Nicole Kidman is set to be Queen of Cannes

It's fair to say this is Nicole Kidman's year, with four projects - that's TV as well as film - on show.

They include one of the most hotly-anticipated films of the festival, The Beguiled.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, the drama is set in an all-female boarding school in America's South during the Civil War and is in competition for the top prize, the Palme d'Or.

An injured enemy soldier, played by Colin Farrell, is taken in by the women, but tensions - and sexual jealousy - rise.

 96076977 beguiled focusfeatures
She stars in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled alongside Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst

Kidman and Farrell team up again for The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). She plays the wife of a surgeon - Farrell - who takes in a teenage boy with catastrophic results.

Her final film at Cannes is How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on a Neil Gaiman short story, while she's also in Jane Campion's Top of the Lake, one of the TV picks of the festival.

2. Parties - lots of them


Rihanna will be on the Cannes party circuit

You can forget the screening rooms and press junkets - the main action at Cannes is going to be on the red carpet and at the endless parties.

Rihanna and Cara Delevingne are among those heading to the waterfront as a social whirl engulfs the town.

Neither has a film showing - but Cara is the face of a new ice cream launch and Rihanna is hosting a late-night party.

Each country will also have a tent along the seafront, so you can expect an array of famous faces to be popping in to the soirees being held there, as well as those on the shoal of superyachts that will be fringing the festival.

3. Tight security

Soldiers patrolling in Cannes ahead of the opening of the festival

Security at this year's Cannes is higher than ever. Which is not surprising given the recent attacks in France, including last summer's horror in nearby Nice, where a man drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.

A row of 400 concrete barriers disguised as giant flowerpots have been installed to stop a similar vehicle attack during the festival.

Police have invested in 160m of spiked chains that could stop a truck and have extra forces working during the festival. In addition, there are 550 security cameras - one for every 140 inhabitants of Cannes.

A festival spokeswoman said the measures were to "guarantee the festival-goers' optimal security" while "taking care not to disrupt" the event.

4. Actors going behind the camera

Kristen Stewarts
 Kristen Stewart's short film is about "heartbreak"

This year, we'll be seeing Kristen Stewart, Robin Wright and Vanessa Redgrave step behind the camera and turn their hands to directing.

Twilight star Kristen has made a short film called Come Swim, which she has described as being about a man in his 30s in the throes of "full-on heartbreak".

Robin Wright has also directed short film - The Dark of Night - about a woman seeking refuge from a storm in an isolated diner.

And Redgrave is presenting Sea Sorrow, a documentary about the refugee crisis. The actress and activist says she was spurred into action by seeing images of the body of Syrian child Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach.

As a side note - Jupiter's Moon, competing for the Palme d'Or, also looks at the refugee crisis.

5. Big buzz about the small screen

Okja starring Tilda Swinton

 Okja, starring Tilda Swinton, is about a young girl trying to save her best friend - a massive animal - from being kidnapped

As well as Top of the Lake, the other main television event is the long-awaited return of Twin Peaks, which is having its premiere at Cannes after 26 years off the air. Fans have been full of theories about what David Lynch is likely to have up his sleeve.

It's been seen as a sign that Cannes is embracing television - although both Lynch and Campion have previously won the Palme d'Or.

And then there's the Netflix controversy.

The home-streaming giant has two feature films in competition - Okja starring Tilda Swinton, and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, with Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Emma Thompson.

But after concerns from the French film industry, the festival stepped in to announce that from next year, films wanting to compete at Cannes will have to be screened at French cinemas.

6. Tough competition

Pedro Almodovar
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is presiding over the Cannes jury

There are 19 films in contention for the coveted Palme d'Or.

One of the early favourites is Wonderstruck by Todd Haynes, director of Carol. Starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, it tells the story of a young boy and young girl - 50 years apart - whose stories intertwine.

And anticipation is high for Good Time, a bank-robber drama starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Robert Pattinson, as well as The Beguiled and Okja.

It's going to be a tough decision for jury president Pedro Almodovar and his fellow jurors, including Will Smith and Jessica Chastain.


The 70th anniversary Palme d'Or

7. New films from Cannes favourites

Isabelle Huppert (third left) and British actor Toby Jones (second right) star in Happy End

Lynne Ramsey (who directed We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the Croisette towards the end of the festival with You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a war veteran trying to save a young girl from a sex trafficking ring.

Then we have Austrian director Michael Haneke, who has already lifted the Palme d'Or twice - with The White Ribbon in 2009 and Amour in 2012. This year, he's presenting Happy End, starring Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert, a family drama set in Cannes with the refugee crisis unfolding on its doorstep.

Can he make it a third trophy?

8. The unexpected


A high heel row erupted at Cannes in 2015

With the champagne flowing and sleep in short supply, anything can happen.

In the past, we've seen flat shoes apparently banned from the red carpet, Hollywood stars having their films booed, and world-famous director Lars von Trier being banned for saying he "sympathised" with Hitler.

Expect colour, expect fashion, expect glamour, expect films to be lauded and panned in equal measure - but most of all, expect the unexpected.

Lauren Turner