Cannes Film Festival lineup features Wes Anderson, Sean Penn, Leox Carax

The Cannes Film Festival on Thursday unveiled a lineup of films from big-name auteurs — including Wes Anderson, Asghar Farhadi, Mia Hansen-Løve and Sean Penn — for its 74th edition, an in-person, summertime event that aims to make a stirring return in July after being canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Among the films that will be competing for Cannes’ Palme d’Or are the festival opener, “Annette,” by Leox Carax and starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard; Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” a film originally set to premiere in Cannes last year with an ensemble cast including Timothée Chalamet; “Red Rocket,” Sean Baker’s follow-up to his acclaimed “The Florida Project”; Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta”; and Sean Penn’s “Flag Day,” in which he stars alongside his daughter, Dylan Penn, as a conman.

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Sean Penn handles his business at 'The Last Face' Cannes photocall. (Photo: Mike Marsland, WireImage)

Pierre Lescure, president of the festival, and Thierry Frémaux, artistic director, announced the Cannes’ lineup at the UGC Normandie theater in Paris in a live-streamed event that was part press conference and part pep rally for world cinema.

“Cinema is not dead. The extraordinary and triumphant return of the audience to movie theaters in France and around the world was the first good news,” said Fremaux. “I hope the film festival will be the second very good news.”

As cinema’s preeminent global stage, the annual French Riviera extravaganza is hoping to make a triumphant comeback when it runs July 6-17 — two months later than its usual May perch. But many things will be different at this year’s festival. Attendees will be masked inside theaters and required to show proof of full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. Cannes’ famed red carpet leading up to the stairs of the Palais des Festivals will resume in full, but with tweaks to the traditional pageantry.

“We’re used to kissing one another at the top of the stairs. We will not kiss one another,” said Fremaux.

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Still, there are many questions leading up to a Cannes that will unfold just as France is reopening and loosening restrictions. Audience capacity limitations will be removed just five days before the festival opens. Concern over a new virus strain led France last week to institute a seven-day quarantine for travelers arriving from the United Kingdom — a potential blow to the British film industry that regularly decamps to Cannes.

For such an international festival as Cannes, many other travel regulations could pose complications. Fremaux acknowledged some filmmakers may not be able to attend. The movie market that typical runs in tandem with the festival and draws much of the film industry for a week of frenzied deal-making, will be held virtually in late June.

But the Cannes program, while perhaps lacking a Hollywood title as anticipated as Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (an entry in 2019, when Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” won the Palme), was praised as top-class. It includes former Palme d’Or winners Jacques Audiard (“Paris 13th District”) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton).

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