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Cannes Set to Open with 'a good film' for a Change

We are a month away from the Festival de Cannes, when Joel and Ethan Coen, who apparently do everything together, will preside as the first co-presidents of the jury. Isabella Rossellini will serve as chairperson of the Un Certain Regard jury, in the year that the festival will honor her mother, actress Ingrid Bergman.

The festival also announced that a French film, La Tête haute by Emmanuelle Bercot, will open the festival. The opening film in recent years has been a more mainstream movie, generally not in competition and often something of an embarrassment, like last year's Grace of Monaco, a film starring Nicole Kidman that went directly to cable in the United States. The record before that was not much better, including Baz Luhrmann's ghastly The Great Gatsby (2013), Woody Allen's tedious Midnight in Paris (2011), Ridley Scott's forgettable Robin Hood (2010), the animated film Up (2009), Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights (2007), and the execrable Da Vinci Code (2006) -- open laughter reportedly greeted that last one during the screening. Isabelle Regnier has some interesting thoughts on the choice of opening film this year, in an article (« La Tête haute », d’Emmanuelle Bercot, ouvrira le 68e Festival de Cannes, April 14) for Le Monde (my translation):

Thierry Frémaux, the festival's director, has chosen to break the unspoken rule that reserves the gala opening for big-budget films, often American, and not necessarily brilliant in an artistic way. "This year, we wanted to start off with a good film," announced Frémaux, who congratulated himself for presenting a work that "shows a certain commitment." He added: "This is a universal film that poses questions about our society's models; a film that speaks about youth, about the relationship between justice and society, about social and educational mechanisms in place in a country like France to treat cases of juvenile delinquency."
Regnier notes that the film is surely not a political rant and that its casting -- Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, and Sara Forestier star -- guarantees the festival an acceptable level of star power. It is also the first film directed by a woman to open the festival since 1987, when A Man in Love by Diana Kurys was screened. It is almost certainly a better film than what was rumored for the opening, Mad Max: Fury Road.

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