Cannes Film Festival 2021: Official Competition Selection

This year’s Cannes Film Festival has got to be very different from the others, not least because of the pandemic and its consequence for the film industry. This year, the festival is held from 6 to 17 July 2021, and the Jury of the Main Competition are: Spike Lee, Mylène Farmer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner, Mélanie Laurent, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Tahar Rahim and Song Kang-ho. It is hard to talk intelligently about individual films (since so few details are yet known about them), let alone try to guess winners, but I have decided to single out just five films out of twenty-four competing entries in the Official Selection and talk about them:

I. The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson

From the director of Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) comes The French Dispatch, “a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch Magazine” (IMDb). As you read this post further you will notice that this is not the only film in the Official Selection that blurs reality and fiction, and the cast here is to die for: Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Benicio del Toro, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Willem Dafoe, Elisabeth Moss and Edward Norton, to name just a few. It promises to be a fun and aesthetically-pleasing cinematic experience that also apparently pays tribute to such French films as Mon Oncle (1958) and Le Cercle rouge (1970) (the trailer).

II. Bergman Island by Mia Hansen-Løve

In this film, “[The story] revolves around an American filmmaking couple who retreat to the island [Faro, Sweden] for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films in an act of pilgrimage to the place that inspired Bergman. As the summer and their screenplays advance, the lines between reality and fiction start to blur against the backdrop of the Island’s wild landscape” (IMDb). This is a film from the director behind Things to Come (2016), and I love the cast here: Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre (2011)), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread (2017)) and Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction (1994)) in the lead roles. The blurring of reality and fiction is always fascinating, and this film is also said to be for “the fans of The Double Life of Veronique (1991)”. You can now watch the trailer here.

III. Titane by Julia Ducournau

Julia Ducournau is the director to watch. Her previous film Raw (2016) was brave, unflinching, thought-provoking. Titane is said to concern a father who, following a series of unexplained crimes, is seeking to reunite with his son missing for the past ten years. Since it is Ducournau, I expect something stylish, brainy and outrageous. The trailer has now been released and you can watch it here.

IV. Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

This film synopsis states: “A woman from Scotland, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice strange sounds. Soon she begins to think about their appearance” (IMDb). This is a film from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and stars the always great Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer (2013), I Am Love (2009)) in the lead role. This is one of my most anticipated films from the Official Selection and not only because of Swinton. The story promises to be psychologically intriguing and it reminds me of well-documented cases of mysterious and unexplained noises/sounds that have been reported to be heard throughout the world, for example, the Hum, which has been heard by numerous people since the 1970s and across continents. Though the sound has been “recorded”, no plausible/official explanation has been accepted.

V. Red Rocket by Sean Baker

The story: “Mikey Saber is a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown, not that anyone really wants him back” (IMDb). This narrative does not grab me, but this is from the director behind The Florida Project (2017), which I absolutely adored. I do believe Sean Baker is well capable of surprising us and delivering something good.

There are also films in the Official Selection from Paul Verhoeven, Ildikó Enyedi, François Ozon, Asghar Farhadi, and Kirill Serebrennikov. Are you excited for this year’s Cannes Film Festival? Which films are you looking forward to?

8 thoughts on “Cannes Film Festival 2021: Official Competition Selection

  1. Impressive lineup 🎥 I’m excited for all of these. What is the premise of Paul Verhoeven’s film. Exciting and familiar Wes Anderson cast too. I will be watching for Spike Lee and Julia Ducourneu, as you recommend. Among the others!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I can’t wait to watch some of the films. Verhoeven’s latest is not my cup of tea this time. It’s a story based on a non-fiction book and explores the relationship between two nuns in the 17th century. I am sure it is very well-made, though and has Charlotte Rampling in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Diana, I like your blog’s new look!

    I’m looking forward to The French Dispatch, but Bergman Island sounds great too! The one I absolutely can’t wait to see is Annette starring Adam Driver + Marion Cotillard.

    Liked by 2 people

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