Perhaps the most significant moment of the year for any self-respecting fan of cinema, the Cannes film festival gives critics and the general public an exclusive first-look into the biggest upcoming projects from some of the most influential international names in cinema.
Having been over two years since the same crowd of journalists, filmmakers and actors have descended upon the small town due to the still ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Cannes film festival is prepared to be one of the biggest yet.
Including brand-new titles, as well as films that were made pre-pandemic, significant names at this year’s festival include Wes Anderson, Sean Baker, Leos Carax and Andrea Arnold, each premiering their latest projects. Though one thing that hasn’t changed is the festival’s animosity toward streaming services, with the film festival’s chief, Thierry Fremaux, stating, “name me a director who has been discovered by a platform,” later adding that, “Not even after ten years!” had streaming services discovered a new filmmaker.
The fear in Fremaux’s voice as he sees the unstoppable rise of streaming services is blatant, with Amazon having acquired Leos Carax’s Annette, perhaps the festival’s most significant inclusion, having opened Cannes on July 6th. From the director of the 2012 awards darling Holy Motors, Leos Carax’s latest film is one of our most anticipated titles at the festival, following a stand up-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his opera singer wife (Marion Cotillard) who have a 2-year-old daughter with a surprising gift. With a story and soundtrack from musical duo Sparks, we expect Annette to be a wonderfully bizarre gift of orchestral beauty.
Coming to define the aesthetic of modern independent filmmaking, director Wes Anderson is known for creating some of the most original pieces of cinema in recent history, from 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. The latest addition to his filmography is The French Dispatch, a story he describes as following, “an American journalist based in France [who] creates [a] magazine. It’s more of a portrait of this man, of this journalist, who fights to write what he wants to write”.
Continuing, the filmmaker adds, “It is not a film about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters you also talk about what’s going on in the real world”. With an incredible ensemble cast including Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton, we expect big things from Anderson’s latest.
It’s a significant year for Tilda Swinton too, as not only does she appear in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, but she also plays the leading role in the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film, Memoria. Though his releases are often staggered, Weerasethakul has created some of the best and most unique films of the 21st century, including 2004’s Tropical Malady and 2010’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
Such projects make us very excited for Memoria, a story following a woman from Scotland who, while travelling through Colombia, begins to notice strange sounds before beginning to think about their appearance. Speaking about his work with Swinton on the film, Weerasethakul reported in a recent interview, “I wrote this movie with her in mind knowing that she is an actress who needs no explanation. In fact, it was she who showed me this character. The experience was very significant and I really appreciate that”.
Each of these aforementioned filmmakers is known for their contributions to the modern landscape of cinema, though it is Sean Baker, director of 2015’s Tangerine and The Florida Project two years later, who is perhaps the most contemporary and socially inspired. Amplifying stories of transgender lives, as well as of those living on the poverty line, Baker is a provocative filmmaker without being overtly so. His latest effort, Red Rocket, stars Simon Rex as Mikey Saber, a washed-up porn star who returns to his Texas hometown, to the anger of its residents.
Rex is most well known for his work on several spoof films throughout the previous decades, from Scary Movie 3 to Superhero Movie, though despite the films’ content, the actor always stood out as a standout performer and natural funny man. Co-written by Baker and collaborator Chris Bergoch, Red Rocket holds promise to be one of the finest films of 2021.
Exploding onto the film scene in 2016 with her fantastic debut feature Raw, French director Julia Ducournau became an immediate staple of the international circuit and a name to watch for the future. Cannes 2021 once again graces us with her presence, giving us her second feature film, Titane, an enigmatic drama following a father who is reunited with his son thought to be missing for ten years.
Specific parts of the plot are being kept under unusually close wraps from distributors Neon, with the company not even providing an official synopsis other than a definition of the film’s title: “A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility”. The trailer shows a rather brutal, heartfelt journey, which, if it is anything like Raw, will be a must-see upon its release.
The final film to grace our list of Cannes 2021 most anticipated films is the new documentary from the delightful filmmaker Andrea Arnold, her first feature film in six years following successive projects in television. Though fairly little is known about Arnold’s new project, it is set to paint a close-up portrait of the daily lives of two cows, and speaking in a recent interview, she wanted her film to remind viewers about how “our relationship with the millions of non-human lives we use is very much part of our existence”. We can’t wait to see it.
See our full list of films to look out for at Cannes 2021 below:
Six most anticipated films at Cannes 2021:
- Annette (Leos Carax, 2021)
- The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)
- Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)
- Red Rocket (Sean Baker, 2021)
- Titane (Julia Ducournau, 2021)
- Cow (Andrea Arnold, 2021)