The 2021 Cannes Film Festival has come to a close. Cannes is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, where some of the most highly anticipated indie features of the year premiere. The festival is back to in-person screenings this year in full force. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the festival.
The festival kicked off with “Annette,” the next feature from director Leos Carax. The film follows a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his opera singer wife (Marion Cotillard) as they take care of their daughter. This musical has been described by many viewers as an absolutely unhinged film, with Carax’s trademark near nonsensical storytelling being present once again. Critics also praise the performances from Driver and Cotillard and Carax’s direction, for which he won the festival’s Best Director award. It may not be for everyone, but for the right audience member, “Annette” is sure to be a thrilling watch. “Annette” will be out in wide release on Prime Video on Aug. 20.
One of the festival’s most anticipated films is “The French Dispatch.” This film is another from Wes Anderson, director of such films as “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” “The French Dispatch” follows a few separate stories revolving around journalists in post-World War II France. The film keeps up with what we’ve come to expect from Anderson: an eccentric ensemble cast, beautiful production design, cinematography and razor sharp direction. Most critics seem to suggest that, while good, the film is not the best of Anderson’s career, though fans of his work will likely still be a fan of this picture. Searchlight Pictures will be distributing “The French Dispatch” into theaters Oct. 22.
One of the key features of the festival is that it serves to highlight features from all over the world that many viewers would not otherwise get a chance to see. One such film is “A Hero” by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. The film is about a man (Amir Jadidi) who faces unexpected consequences when he tries to negotiate with his debt creditor. The film has received rave reviews, including winning the festival jury’s Grand Prize and many are anticipating that Farhadi could see himself in the Best Director Oscar conversation next year. Farhadi has won the Best International Feature twice before (2011’s “A Separation” and 2016’s “The Salesman”) and a growing international population of Oscar voters have seen a foreign language director get nominated each of the past three years, which looks promising for Farhadi. The film has picked up distribution rights from Amazon and should be released later this year.
Another international film of note is “Titane,” the bizarre drama from “Raw” director Julia Ducournau which won the Palme D’or, the festival’s top prize. Despite winning this coveted award, this film’s strangeness might make it hard to break out to all but the biggest of fans. Some highlights from the U.S include Sean Penn’s “Flag Day” and Sean Baker’s story of a washed-up porn star entitled “Red Rocket.” Each of these films will be distributed onto various platforms later on in the year now that they have premiered at Cannes.
While those are the key highlights from the films playing in competition at the festival, there are several films that screened out of competition that are also highly acclaimed. First, there’s “After Yang,” the next film from Kogonada, the director of the beloved indie hit “Columbus.” The film, which stars Colin Farrell, features a dad who tries to repair their child’s robot friend. This section also features “Blue Bayou,” a drama from Justin Chon about a Korean-American family trying to avoid being deported. The film, which features Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander, has received very strong reviews and has already been picked up for theatrical distribution from Focus Features. Finally, there was the unexpected festival inclusion “Stillwater.” This film, directed by Oscar-winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), stars Matt Damon as a father who travels to France when his daughter is falsely arrested. This film’s release is right around the corner on July 30, meaning this premiere most liked just served to build excitement for the film’s upcoming release. Each of these films are expected to be critical hits as they release later down the year.
The Cannes Film Festival features dozens of films, so it would be impossible to discuss all of the festival’s diverse lineup. As reactions and reviews for the festival’s films have poured in, these are just a few of the festival’s most exciting highlights.
By Ben Lindner