Cannes Film Festival 2024 Guide 1

The biggest film event of the year, the Cannes Film Festival, took place from May 14-25, 2024. As we leave Cannes 2024 behind, we have compiled this article to provide an overview of the festival, share information about the films we had the chance to watch, and create a list of recommendations.

Since the festival consists of 9 main sections and 4 parallel sections, this article will provide a detailed review of 4 sections. The series will continue with the other sections of the festival, so stay tuned!

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In this article, we will review the following festival sections:

  • In Competition
  • Un Certain Regard
  • Out of Competition
  • Cannes Premiere

Other Festival Sections (will be reviewed soon):

  • Special Screening
  • La Cinef
  • Classics
  • Cinema De La Plage
  • Short Films

Parallel Events:

  • Quinzaine / Directors’ Fortnight
  • Semaine de la Critique
  • ACID

Additionally, it should be noted:

  • Marché du Film – The world’s busiest film market.
  • Whats-App-Image-2024-05-31-at-09-19-17-aba6184e
 
  • Masterclasses, panels, and conferences – Events open to festival participants featuring world-renowned filmmakers.

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  • Industry events and parties – Great opportunities for cinema industry professionals to network and unwind.
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Let’s get started!

The main event of the festival, the Official Selection, is divided into the following sections:

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In Competition

Films competing for the Palme d’Or usually premiere at the Théâtre Lumière with the film crew in attendance and are also shown in other cinemas throughout the festival. Viewers are required to follow a dress code to watch these films. This year, 22 films were shown in the main competition. Brief descriptions of the films are provided below (in alphabetical order):

  • All We Imagine as Light – Director: Payal Kapadia (Award: Grand Prix). In her second feature film, Indian director Kapadia focuses on Nurse Prabha, who receives an unexpected gift from her estranged husband in Mumbai.
  • Anora – Director: Sean Baker (Award: Palme d’Or). A drama/comedy about a sex worker set in New York City and Las Vegas, awarded the top prize at Cannes. You might know Baker from The Florida Project and Tangerine.
  • Bird – Director: Andrea Arnold. The British director adds a bizarre and surreal layer to her typically bittersweet social realism, though the impact of this addition is questionable.
  • Diamant Brut (Wild Diamond) – Director: Agathe Riedinger. The director’s first feature film is a drama about the dream of being at the top for those at the bottom, set in a working-class atmosphere.
  • Emilia Perez – Director: Jacques Audiard (Award: Jury Prize & Best Actress). This comedy/crime/musical focuses on an interesting story involving a lawyer and a cartel in Mexico. The Best Actress award was shared among the film’s four actresses.
  • Feng Liu Yi Dai (Caught by the Tides) – Director: Jia Zhang-Ke. The award-winning director’s latest drama tells the significant recent history of China through the life of a quietly living Chinese woman.
  • Grand Tour – Director: Miguel Gomez (Award: Best Director). This drama, with a near-documentary aesthetic, combines two palettes (black-and-white and color), two time periods (past and present), and two protagonists with contrasting temperaments.
  • Kinds of Kindness – Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (Award: Best Actor). Known for his unique style, Lanthimos’s film features Jesse Plemons in multiple roles across three segments, seamlessly portraying different characters.
  • L’Amour Ouf (Beating Hearts) – Director: Gilles Lellouche. Adapted from the Irish novel Jackie Loves Johnser OK?, this film transitions from a tough gangster movie to a challenging love story.
  • La plus précieuse des marchandises (The Most Precious of Cargoes) – Director: Michel Hazanavicius. The Oscar-winning director of The Artist returns with an anime about war, though it failed to impress Cannes audiences.
  • Limonov – The Ballad – Director: Kirill Serebrennikov. This film about the life of Russian outlaw bohemian writer Eduard Limonov spans New York, Paris, and Moscow but loses focus due to its length.
  • Marcello Mio – Director: Christophe Honore. The film follows Chiara, the daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, as she gradually assumes her father’s identity, but it fails to leave a significant impact.
  • Megalopolis – Director: Francis Ford Coppola. This sci-fi drama about constructing a utopia in New York to prevent an impending disaster didn’t manage to impress the Cannes jury.
  • Motel Destino – Director: Karim Aïnouz. Set on the coast of Ceará, this film explores dangerous desires, power, and violence, but did not fully win over its audience.
  • Oh, Canada – Director: Paul Schrader. This slow-paced biography of Leonard Fife, a draft dodger who fled to Canada, features Richard Gere and Uma Thurman, aiming for an Oscar but missing the mark.
  • Parthenope – Director: Paolo Sorrentino (Award: CST Award for Best Artis-Technician). Sorrentino’s poetic film blends dream, mythology, and reality but may have disappointed some viewers with its slow pace.
  • Pigen med Nalen (The Girl with the Needle) – Director: Magnus von Horn. This film features intense opening scenes with distorted human faces and a gripping sound design, but its Second World War storyline did not resonate with the Cannes jury.
  • The Apprentice – Director: Ali Abbasi. A biography about Donald Trump’s early real estate career in the 1970s, surprising in its inclusion in the selection and failing to please audiences or critics.
  • The Seed of the Sacred Fig – Director: Ali Abbasi (Award: Special Award). This film follows Judge Iman in Tehran as he grapples with paranoia amidst political unrest. Director Rasoulof escaped from Iran just weeks before the film’s screening.
  • The Shrouds – Director: David Cronenberg. Cronenberg’s attempt to explore new technologies through body horror fell flat, evolving into a disjointed drama.
  • The Substance – Director: Coralie Fargeat (Best Screenplay). This film effectively utilizes Hollywood stars and a compelling script, earning the screenplay award from the Cannes jury.
  • Trei Kilometri Pana La Capatul Lumii (Three Kilometers to the End of the World) – Director: Emanuel Parvu. Following the traditions of Romanian cinema, this film focuses on social and political corruption but fails to reach the heights of its predecessors.

Personal Favorites:

  • The Substance
  • Anora
  • Pigen med Nalen
  • Parthenope
  • The Seed of the Sacred Fig
  • L’Amour Ouf

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Un Certain Regard

Featuring original and diverse works, this section includes 18 films from various cultures, typically shown at Salle Debussy.

Highlights:

  • Armand – Director: Halfdan Ulmann Tondel (Award: Caméra d’or Prize). Thelma’s assistant director Tondel’s debut feature focuses on the complexities of adult life through the misbehavior of a 6-year-old. While technically impressive, the film loses its way with exaggerated surreal scenes in the second half.
  • Flow – Director: Gints Zilbalodis. This animated film from Lithuania follows a cat whose life is upended by a flood, highlighting basic instincts like need and freedom.
  • Ljosbrot (When the Light Breaks) – Director: Runar Runarsson. The award-winning Icelandic director’s latest film covers 24 hours in the life of a group of young friends, touching on themes of youth, freedom, and solidarity.
  • My Sunshine – Director: Hiroshi Okuyama. A modest coming-of-age film, marking the director’s second feature.
  • Norah – Director: Tawfik Azadi (Award: Special Mention). Set in a small Saudi Arabian village in the 1990s, the film follows a new teacher, a former artist, and his encounter with a young woman named Norah.
  • On Becoming a Guinea Fowl – Director: Rungano Nyoni (Award: Best Director ex-aequo). The director of I Am Not a Witch presents a cultural commentary set against the backdrop of human relationships in Zambia and Guinea.
  • Vingt Dieux (Holy Cow) – Director: Louise Courvoisier (Award: Youth Award, 1st Film). This energetic and painful film follows Totone, a boy whose carefree childhood is disrupted after his father’s death.

Other Films:

  • Gou Zhen (Black Dog) – Director: Guan Hu (Award: Un Certain Regard Prize)
  • Le Proces du Chien (Dog on Trial) – Director: Laetitia Dosch
  • Le Royaume (The Kingdom) – Director: Julien Colonna
  • L’Historie de Souleymane – Director: Boris Lojkine (Award: Un Certain Regard Prize, Best Actor)
  • Niki – Director: Celine Salette
  • Santosh – Director: Sandhya Suri
  • September Says – Director: Ariane Labed
  • The Damned – Director: Roberto Minervini (Award: Best Director ex-aequo)
  • The Shameless – Director: Konstantin Bojanov
  • The Village Next to Paradise – Director: Mo Harawe
  • Viet and Nam – Director: Truong Minh Quy

Personal Favorites:
Armand
On Becoming a Guinea Fowl
Flow
Vingt Dieux
Ljosbrot

Picture5These films are selected for gala screenings at the Théâtre Lumière but do not compete for the main award. The 10 films included in this section are:

  • Le Deuxieme Acte (The Second Act) – Director: Quentin Dupieux: The mischievous and highly prolific Dupieux’s latest film opened Cannes officially. A candid, humorous, and highly satirical mise-en-abyme work about cinema itself, the film is unpretentious yet remarkable. (For a review of the film: Le Deuxieme Acte)
  • Les Femmes Au Balcon (The Balconettes) – Director: Noemie Merlant (Award: CST Award for Best Young Female Film Technician): Known as an actress from Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tár, Merlant co-wrote the script for her second feature with Céline Sciamma.
  • Rumours – Director: Guy Maddin: Maddin is undoubtedly a genius! He doesn’t hesitate to mischievously play with world leaders by trapping them in a forest during a G7 summit. The film, as funny as it is thought-provoking, deserves more. Frankly, one wonders why it’s not in competition; does Cannes have political concerns regarding the G7 summit?
  • Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga – Director: George Miller
  • Horizon: An American Saga – Director: Kevin Costner
  • Le Comte de Monte Cristo – Director: Matthieu Delaporte
  • She’s Got No Name – Director: Peter Ho-Sun Chan
  • The Surfer – Director: Lorcan Finnegan
  • Twilight of the Warriors – Director: Soi Cheang
  • Veteran 2 – Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan

Most of these films appear to come straight out of Hollywood’s backyard, and we will likely hear their names again at the Oscars.

Personal Favorites:
Rumours
Les Femmes Au Balcon

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Cannes Premiere

These films are selected to be shown in the Salle Debussy, but they do not compete for the main award. The films in this section are as follows:

  • C’est Pas Moi (It’s Not Me) – Director: Leos Carax: A medium-length film in which the director discusses his work to date and the motivations behind it. With colors, words, images, and distorted sound added to the experimentally assembled visuals, one cannot help but feel he is getting closer to Godard.
  • En Fanfare (The Marching Band) – Director: Emmanuel Courcol: If there were a “feel-good” section in Cannes, this film could easily be included. The story revolves around two siblings who share a love for music but were adopted by different families and grew up apart, touching on social issues as well.
  • Le Roman de Jim (The Story of Jim) – Director: Arnaud Larrieu: Adapted from the novel of the same title, the film addresses family and identity issues while successfully touching the audience’s heart with the humble, compassionate, and kind nature of the main character.
  • Misericorde – Director: Alain Guraudie: Known for Stranger by the Lake, the director continues to reveal the aspects of society it prefers to hide in his latest film.

Other Films in the Section:

  • Everybody Loves Touda – Director: Nabil Ayouch
  • Maria – Director: Jessica Palud
  • Rendez-Vous avec Pol Pot – Director: Rithy Panh

Personal Favorites:
En Fanfare
Misericorde

The festival, where life pauses for 12 days, offers a rigorous selection and an amazing cinema experience while also setting the course for the film world in the coming year.

à bientôt! 

Nil Birinci

For a series of articles detailing personal festival experiences:

Cannes Diaries #1
Cannes Diaries #2

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