Arriving in Cannes jetlagged on a cloudless summer morning (the Mediterranean summer’s already here) I was greeted by a cultural shock of sorts – the hundreds of festival staff, hosts, security, building contractors, are all extremely friendly, helpful, polite and funny – the antithesis of Paris. The Parisian crowd stands out a mile away from the tanned, Southerly pétanque-playing locals. Nevertheless, the overwhelming atmosphere is one of hospitality, warmth and good looks galore.
The first impression of this year’s line-up is the wide range of countries -from Japan to Romania and Ethiopia, from Iran to Croatia – represented by fairly little known filmmakers. While France is the outright leader in terms of the overall number of films screening and there are some big American names well accustomed to Cannes (Woody Allen, Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes), the greatest buzz so far seems to be around the Italian trio (Cannes veteran Nanni Moretti and new darlings Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone) and Yorgos Lanthimos. Among French veterans, Jacques Audiard is here with a somewhat odd-sounding offering about a former Tamil Tiger eking out survival in a brutal French cité, while Maiwenn will be looking to repeat the success of Polisse with love drama Mon Roi. In total, three female French directors will be present (Emmanuelle Bercot, Valérie Donzelli and Maiwenn), as well as two brilliant actresses with two films each – Isabelle Huppert in Louder than Bombs and Valley of Love and Rachel Weisz in Youth and The Lobster.
Personally, I will be looking out for Hungarian debut feature Saul Fia by Laszlo Nemas, the two Romanian ‘new wave’ offerings by Radu Muntean and Corneliu Porumboiu, Yared Zeleke’s Lamb, Natalie Portman’s directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness”, Croatian Dalibor Matanic’s Zvizdan and Indian debut feature Masaan from director Neeraj Ghaywan.