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Cannes Film Festival Announce Programme for 2021

Updated: Jun 9

It may be two months late, but it will go ahead: from 6-17 July, filmmakers, stars and film enthusiasts will gather on the Croisette for the 74th Festival de Cannes.

On 6 July, the red carpet will finally be rolled out again in Cannes. How many stars will walk it? The festival management hopes for an almost normal line-up... © Festival de Cannes

Somewhat chaotic is perhaps the best way to describe the two heads of the Cannes Film Festival, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux, at the press conference announcing the official selection of films. The press conference had been postponed another week, as organisers scrambled with the organisation of two festival's worth of films. They had to be reminded repeatedly of their names and titles but you can hardly blame them, as organising this year's edition poses a huge challenge - with a new category, a new event month and an extensive hygiene and security plan.

After last year's festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, entries from two years had to be screened - 2,300 films in total. This year, the new series "Cannes Premiere" joins the main competition and the secondary category "Un Certain Regard". As one of the first festivals to take place since the outbreak of the pandemic, Cannes is aiming for regular operation at full capacity after almost all anti-Covid measures are to be lifted in France on 30 June.

Nevertheless, Frémaux continues to call for "a lot of caution", and says that "kisses on the red carpet" will also have to wait. Entry to the festival will be limited to those who are vaccinated, recovered and tested, and a nearby testing centre will be open daily from 8 am to 8 pm.

Spike Lee is finally jury president this year - as had been planned for the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the pandemic © DR

Who gets to go home with a Palme d'Or on 17 July will be decided by, among others, Spike Lee, who will head this year's jury - as had been planned for 2020. As the first African-American president of a major film festival, the 64-year-old screenwriter, actor, editor and producer has worked on many films that address ethnic discrimination. The 58-year-old US actress Jodie Foster will be the guest of honour at the opening ceremony and will receive an honorary Palme for her career.

The selection

24 films have been nominated for the main competition. Seven films from France made it into the coveted category and another film into the supporting series "Un certain regard". Italian director Nanni Moretti, who won a Palme d'Or for La Chambre du fils in 2001, is back in the running again two decades later with Tre piani, along with directors from the US, such as Chloe Zhao and Wes Anderson, Iranian Asghar Farhadi, Russian Kirill Serebrennikov, Thai Apichapong Weerasethakul and others.

Three former winners of the Palme d'Or will be present in Jacques Audiard, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Nanni Moretti, with Asghar Farhadi a double Oscar winner. It is already clear that this year's unofficial queen of Cannes will be French actress Léa Seydoux, who can be seen in three nominated films: Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Ildikó Enyedi's The Story of My Wife and Desplechin's Tromperie.

French actress Léa Seydoux stars in three nominated films © Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Also in the main competition is Dutch director Paul Verhoeven's historical film Bendetta about a lesbian nun in the Middle Ages, starring Virginie Efira. Among the famous names are Sean Penn, whose film Flag Day is in the main competition, Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose film Jane par Charlotte about her mother Jane Birkin will be shown in the new "Cannes Premiere" series, as well as directors Oliver Stone, Hong Sang-Soo and Arnaud Desplechin (all in "Cannes Premiere").

It was already known that Leos Carax's dramatic musical Annette with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard will be shown as the opening film. And Wes Anderson's French-American production The French Dispatch, with its ensemble of Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton, will probably attract the most famous international stars to the Croisette red carpet.

- SL

The official selection:

Main competition:

Annette, Leos Carax (France, Opening film)

The Story of My Wife, Ildikó Enyedi (Hungary)

Benedetta, Paul Verhoeven (Netherlands)

Bergman Island, Mia-Hansen-Løve (France)

Drive My Car, Rysuke Hamaguchi (Japan)

Ha’Berech (Ahed’s Knee), Nadav Lapid (Israel)

Casablanca Beats, Nabil Ayouch (Morocco)

Compartment No. 6, Juho Kuosmanen (Finnland)

The Worst Person in the World, Joachim Trier (Norway)

La Fracture, Catherine Corsini (France)