Harrison Ford will be there. So will Johnny Depp. And Sunny Leone. In the coming week, the tiny French town of Cannes will once again, transform (for 12 days) into the world’s film capital. There will be premieres, parties, red carpet drama, headline-grabbing fashion and eventually, a slew of winners will emerge, which might go the distance to Oscars ‘24. Last year, three Best Picture nominees premiered at the festival – Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis and Triangle of Sadness (2022) — which also won the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d'Or. The film’s director Ruben Östlund (who also won the Palme for his film The Square in 2017) will head the main competition jury this year.
There will be enough masters at the Palais des Festivals to make a cinephile dizzy. As The Hollywood Reporter said about the official selection, “All Killer, No Filler”. Director Martin Scorsese returns to the festival after 37 years with Killers of the Flower Moon, about a series of murders in Oklahoma in the Twenties. The film starring two of Scorsese’s favorites – Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio – runs for a staggering three hours 26 minutes (which is only three minutes shorter than Scorsese’s last film, The Irishman (2019), which ran for three hours 29 minutes). Pedro Almodovar will be there with his second English-language short film called Strange Way of Life and starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. The film is a Western, shot in the south of Spain. Other auteurs include Wes Anderson (Asteroid City), Todd Haynes (May December) and returning Palme d’Or winners Nuri Bilge Ceylan (About Dry Grasses), Ken Loach (The Old Oak), Wim Wenders (Perfect Days) and Hirokazu Kore-eda (Monster). And for the first time ever in the festival’s 76-year history, seven female filmmakers will compete for the Palme d’Or. This includes Alice Rohrwacher and Catherine Breillat. The festival also opens with a female-directed film, Jeanne du Barry directed by Maiwenn (she also plays the titular character opposite Depp, who plays Louis XV).
Only four Indian films have made the official selection. Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy (starring Leone and Rahul Bhat) has a midnight screening and Kanu Behl's Agra is showing in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar. The short film Nehemich by Yudhajit Basu is part of La Cinef and was selected from among 2,000 films submitted by film schools around the world. Legendary Manipuri director Aribam Syam Sharma’s Ishanou, restored by the Film Heritage Foundation, will also show as part of Cannes Classics. And various leading female actors will grace the red carpet including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sara Ali Khan, Anushka Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari.
Ishanou first showed at Cannes in 1991 as part of the Un Certain Regard section. Sharma, now 87, will return to the festival. Eighty-year-old Ford will also walk the red carpet as will 78-year-old Michael Douglas, who is being awarded an honorary Palme d’Or. At a press conference in April, during which this year’s selection was unveiled, Iris Knobloch, the new president of the festival said, “Cannes is going back to the future of cinema.” Actually, the past, present and future promise to collide. And that will be magic.