Out of the 21 films in competition, this year it is the oriental film industry that is guiding the race to the Palmares, and while the US presence is marginal there is, as usual, a strong French participation.
In fact, competing for France there is Jean-Luc Godard (“Le livre d’image”), Stéphane Brizé (“En Guerre”), Christophe Honoré (“Plaire aimer et courior vite”) and Eva Husson (“Girls of the Sun”); Husson is one of the three female filmmakers in competition alongside the Italian Rohrwacher and the Lebanese Nadine Labaki who is bringing the flavor of Middle Eastern cinema to Cannes with the political fairy tale “Capharnaum”. Plus: there is “Todos los saben” by the Iranian Asghar Farhadi and “3 visages” by his compatriot Jafar Panahi.
“Ayka” marks the return to Cannes of the Kazakh Sergey Dvortsevoy whose previous work “Tulpan” won the Prix Un Certain Regard in 2008; also giving Cannes another try is Nuri Bilge Ceylan with “Ahlat Agaci”: the Turkish director won the Palme d’Or in 2014 for “Winter Sleep”.
There is also a very substantial participation from east Asia: from China’s Jia Zhang-ke (“Ash is purest white”), to Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Shoplifters”) and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (“Asako I & II”), to Korea’s Lee Chang Dong (“Burning”).
While China is getting increasingly closer, the US film industry appears quite far away marshaling Spike Lee for the competition with “Blackklansman” (a story about an African-American policeman who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan) and David Robert Mitchell with the noir “Under the Silver Lake”.
It seems that the Majors have deserted Cannes this year with the exception of Disney that is presenting “Solo: A Star Wars Story” out of competition, the spin-off of the Star Wars saga directed by Ron Howard.
Netflix has definitely deserted in the light of the controversy regarding the Festival regulations which prohibit films that have not been released in movie theaters from the competition.
At the same time the director Thierry Fremaux, almost wishing to mark the distance from “market reasons”, has retrieved a cult filmmaker like Denmark’s Lars Von Trier, “persona non grata” at Cannes since 2011 when, in competition with “Melancholia”, he made what were considered to be pro-Nazi comments. Returns to Cannes, out of competition, with “The House That Jack Built”