Cannes Film Festival 2017 Preview

Now that the line-up for Cannes Film Festival has been revealed, with it comes a set of major talking points likely to be evoked from the selections and organisation; the choices, regardless of who wins, show some distinct movement for Cannes away from the traditional methods of production and distribution.

1. No Big Studios - There is a distinct lack of large studio presence in the festival's line-up, as the competitive and non-competitive categories take a firmly independent or smaller studio focus. A political message of a focus on art and pushing the envelope? Sony, Warner Bros, Fox and Universal are absent from the festival, but this is likely a mix of issues (a lack of worthy content perhaps included). Gone are the days where the major studios reigned supreme. However...

2. Streaming Services make their presence known - To the complete horror of Cannes traditionalists, the streaming titan Netflix has had its contribution to cinema recognised with not one but two films in competition. The first is mumblecore darling Noah Baumbach's Adam Sandler vehicle The Meyerowitz Stories, followed by Korean visionary Bong Joo-Ho with the supernatural corporate drama Okja, starring avant-garde favourite Tilda Swinton. Amazon Studios, meanwhile, has its share of the Cannes experimentation with Todd Haynes' follow-up to the much-lauded Carol with the decade-spanning and formally-experimental Wonderstruck (starring Julianne Moore in what is rumoured to be half a silent-film).

Tilda Swinton unites with Bong Joo-Ho in 'Okja'.

3. Three female auteurs, but still a lack of women - Some have lauded this year as being the coming of female influence at Cannes, but it's still not enough, with just under a quarter of directors competing being female. However, there is much to be excited about in the form of Lynne Ramsay's follow-up to the brilliant We Need to Talk About Kevin with a sex-trafficking drama starring Joaquín Phoenix, entitled You Were Never Really Here. Japanese Cannes favourite Naomi Kawasen brings Radiance to the festival, while the brilliant Sofia Coppola taps into more feminine ennui and experience with her adaptation of The Beguiled which reunites her with Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning; already being considered a frontrunner for the festival's highest honour, the Palme d'Or!

4.A hat-trick for Michael Haneke? - The Cannes teacher's pet and much lauded French auteur, Michael Haneke, returns after his Palme d'Or win for the unrelenting Amour in 2012, with Happy End, a timely examination of the refugee crisis in Calais from the viewpoint of a bourgeois French family - starring old playmates Jean-Louis Trintignant and the incomparable Isabelle Huppert, both back following Amour. If the tale and the execution prove timely enough, then Haneke may be the first director in history to win the top honour for a third time.

Kyle MacLachlan's FBI Agent Dale Cooper returns in all-new 'Twin Peaks'.

5. Other mediums get their turn - Cannes' desire to modernise beyond streaming services continues with the large presence of quality television shows and virtual reality experiences. Mexican visionary Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu brings a VR journey to the festival, while Jane Campion brings her sequel series to the New Zealand crime drama Top of the Lake with Top of the Lake: China Girl to premiere there. David Lynch also brings the long-awaited new episodes of Twin Peaks to the festival; years after its film Fire Walk With Me drew vocal reactions from the audiences at the festival. Will the surreal series prove as divisive this time around?

6. The year of Nicole Kidman - The Australian multi award-winner is back in the limelight following her Oscar nomination for the emotional Lion and foray into television with HBO's acclaimed miniseries Big Little Lies with FOUR appearances in the festival. Kidman plays the haughty Southern headmistress in Coppola's The Beguiled and a silver-haired Australian mother in Campion's Top of the Lake: China Girl. Kidman also appears in Yorgos Lanthimos' follow up to the delightfully weird The Lobsterwith psychological drama The Killing of the Sacred Deer (which brings her together with Beguiled co-star Colin Farrell), while Hedwig and the Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell brings Kidman (together with other Beguiled co-star Elle Fanning) out for the sure-to-be colourful sci-fi romance How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

Nicole Kidman is a fraught mother in 'Top of the Lake: China Girl'.

7. The Opener - The festival opens with French favourite Arnold Desplechin's all-star ensemble drama Ishmael's Ghost; a worthy opener examining the life of a filmmaker whose life is disrupted by the return of an old lover. The film stars French favourites Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard (a Cannes constant), Charlotte Gainsbourg and Louis Garrel.

8. Notable documentaries - It is also a diverse time for the non-fiction genre at the festival which tends to focus more on drama. Notably, Elvis Presley's final years will be explored in Eugene Jarecki's Promised Lands, while legendary Claude Lanzman tackles North Korea in the surely provocative Napalm. Actress Vanessa Redgrave and new-wave legend Agnès Varda will also get a look in for the documentaries' showings too.

Following on from her appearance last year in 'Personal Shopper' at Cannes, Kristen Stewart directs short film 'Come Swim'.

9. Kristen Stewart: director? - The divisive Twilight star continues to impress with her movement into the avant-garde and independent circles, including her acclaimed lead performance in Oliver Assayas' supernatural drama Personal Shopper which went down a treat last year at Cannes. However, Stewart faces a new kind of judgement for her directorial skill with her own short film Come Swim, which is showing at the festival. It made tongues wag at its premiere at Sundance Film Festival, but will it prove as much a discussion point at the more style conscious Cannes?


10. The offensive poster - Cannes' posters for their festivals are as equally legendary as the festival itself, but this year's featuring classic Italian starlet Claudia Cardinale was photoshopped to make the actress appear thinner than reality. Cardinale's comments show she was unfazed by the changes to the beautiful photo, but commentators condemned the festival organisers for the body-shaming decision. Here's hoping jury chair and Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar and the brilliant Jessica Chastain have better judgement with their choices when it comes to dishing out the honours come May time.

The Cannes Film Festival will run from 17-28 May, hosted by Italian star Monica Bellucci.

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