What’s in Store at This Year’s Cannes Film Festival

New episodes of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake are among the surprising titles to screen next month.


The lineup at each year’s Cannes Film Festival typically includes a few surprise entries. But the announcement of this year’s offerings brought the first, grudging acknowledgement of a real paradigm shift at one of the oldest, most revered celebrations of filmmaking. That being: Maybe this whole television thing isn’t just a fad. For its 70th anniversary, Cannes is screening episodes from the TV projects of two former winners of its highest honor, the Palme D’Or: Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, due to air its second season later this year, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which will return to screens on Showtime after 26 years off the air.

For most film festivals, showing a few television episodes is almost a matter of course—considering the increasingly shared DNA between the two mediums and the growing ease with which artists move between them. But Cannes, which runs from May 17 to 28, has always been proudly stogy. Its artistic director Terry Fremaux dismissed any grand significance to the inclusion of Campion’s and Lynch’s projects, calling the directors longtime friends of the festival and adding, “Even [TV] series, unless proven otherwise, are using the classic art of cinema.” In other words, don’t expect new episodes of The Big Bang Theory at Cannes anytime soon.

For its 70th year, Cannes is also branching into territories beyond television, including some virtual-reality showcases and the first projects from the streaming studio Netflix, which had struggled to break into the French seaside soiree. The competition slates will feature exciting new projects from longtime festival darlings like Sofia Coppola, Michel Haneke, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Todd Haynes, along with debut appearances by American indie favorites Noah Baumbach and Josh and Benny Safdie.

Opening the festival is Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts, the latest work from the popular French director best known in America for his 2008 dramedy A Christmas Tale. His new film centers on a filmmaker played by Mathieu Amalric, and co-stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marion Cotillard. Other European offerings include Haneke’s Happy End, a drama centered around the current refugee crisis starring his frequent collaborator Isabelle Huppert. It will be the director’s first film since 2012’s Oscar-winning Amour. The Artist writer-director Michel Hazanavicius is also back with Redoubtable, a biopic of the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard (played by Louis Garrel), which could either be a surprise hit or the bomb of the year. (Hazanavicius has, in general, struggled since winning 2011’s Best Director Oscar for his pastiche silent film).

The biggest American entrants are Baumbach, Coppola, the Safdie brothers, and Haynes, though John Cameron Mitchell’s (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) new comedy How to Talk to Girls At Parties, starring Elle Fanning, will also premiere out of competition. Baumbach’s Cannes debut is The Meyerowitz Stories, a New York-set comedy-drama about the family of an acclaimed author, which boasts the impressive ensemble of Emma Thompson, Candice Bergen, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller ... and Adam Sandler. (The film’s distribution rights have already been acquired by Netflix.) Meanwhile, Coppola has remade the transgressive 1971 Western The Beguiled, about a wounded Civil War soldier taking shelter with a cloistered group of women. Her version stars Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Nicole Kidman, who, as part of her recent resurgence, has four films at this year’s Cannes.

Haynes’s follow-up to the acclaimed Carol (which also debuted at Cannes) is Wonderstruck, a mystical-sounding adaptation of Brian Selznick’s novel, in which two stories, told 50 years apart, intertwine in some mysterious way. Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore are part of the sprawling cast. The Safdie brothers, known for gritty low-budget indie hits like Heaven Knows What and Daddy Longlegs, have assembled a bigger cast for their new film Good Time, a bank-robber drama starring Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Barkhad Abdi.

Of the more mysterious and exciting entrants from festival favorites, perhaps the biggest-scale is Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, a $50-million monster movie made directly for Netflix that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton. Bong, whose last film was the crossover sci-fi hit Snowpiercer, promises that the titular beast of this movie is “shy and introverted,” but little else is known about the plot. From the Greek maestro Lanthimos (who got a surprise Oscar nomination for 2016’s bizarre romantic parable The Lobster) is the intimidatingly titled The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which also features the star pairing of Farrell and Kidman.

Perhaps most exciting of all (at least to some cineastes) is the return of Lynne Ramsay, the Scottish director who has not made a feature since 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. Ramsay has made three hypnotic features in her career—1999’s Ratcatcher and 2002’s Morvern Callar are the other two—but has also seen many a planned project fall through because of unfortunate Hollywood politics. Her new film is You Were Never Really Here, based on the novella by Jonathan Ames, and stars Joaquin Phoenix. Perhaps, if it’s successful, she can finally make her planned adaptation of Moby Dick set in space. Ramsay is one of only three women featured in the main competition slate, furthering a gender imbalance that Cannes has long faced criticism for; 12 of the 49 overall films screening at the festival this year were made by women.

The full competition slate is:

120 Beats per Minute, Robin Campillo

The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola

The Day After, Hong Sang-soo

A Gentle Creature, Sergei Loznitsa

Good Time, Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

Happy End, Michael Haneke

In the Fade, Fatih Akin

Jupiter’s Moon, Kornél Mundruczó

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Yorgos Lanthimos

L’amant double, François Ozon

Le redoubtable, Michel Hazanvicius

Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev

The Meyerowitz Stories, Noah Baumbach

Okja, Bong Joon-Ho

Radiance, Naomi Kawase

Rodin, Jacques Doillon

Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes

You Were Never Really Here, Lynne Ramsay