By: Fiachra Gibbons and Clare Byrne via AFP
From a zombie flick starring Iggy Pop to a tale of Chinese gangsters who decide to take over a city, these are the films vying for the top prize at the Cannes film festival next month:
The Dead Don’t Die
Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy will open the festival on May 14 with a starry cast that includes Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.
The indie American icon, who made his name with “Down by Law” and “Mystery Train” in the 1980s, scored a low-key hit with last film “Paterson” — also starring Driver — which also premiered at Cannes.
Sorry We Missed You
Having won the Palme d’Or two years ago with “I, Daniel Blake,” which showed the devastation caused by austerity in Britain, veteran director Ken Loach is back with an indictment of the gig economy.
Written by his long-time collaborator Paul Laverty, it is the story of another Newcastle family battling debt since the 2008 financial crisis.
They hope to turn a corner when the father becomes a self-employed delivery driver, but the e-economy is not all it seems.
A Hidden Life
Two decades after “The Thin Red Line,” American master Terrence Malick returns to World War II with a haunting story of a German conscientious objector guillotined by the Nazis in 1943.
It also includes the final screen performance of the late actors Michael Nyqvist and Bruno Ganz of “Downfall” and “Wings of Desire” fame.
It is the first time Malick has premiered a film at Cannes since he won the Palme d’Or with “The Tree of Life” in 2011.
Korean master Bong Joon-ho of “Okja” and “Snowpiercer” fame is another Cannes regular, famous for his dark gripping genre-bending creations. This time he tells a tragicomic tale of a poor family’s obsession with a rich one after their son gets a job as a tutor to the daughter of a wealthy industrialist.
The tale has echoes of another South Korean movie, “Burning,” which became an arthouse hit last year after showing at Cannes.
With Bong regular Song Kang-ho (“The Host” and “Snowpiecer”) in the lead, it also stars Choi Woo-shik of the cult horror hit “Train to Busan.”
Matthias & Maxime
French Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and plays the lead in his latest drama about a group of late twentysomethings in his native Quebec.
Of late, the prolific young auteur — who made an impact with “Mommy” and “I Killed My Mother” — has divided critical opinion. Cannes will be hoping this is a return to form.
A biopic of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence, it stars Brazilian actress and model Maria Fernanda Candido as his third wife, who convinces him to spill the beans to US prosectors.
Veteran Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio shot the film in Sicily, Rome, London and Rio de Janeiro.
Three times Palme d’Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne return to the scene of their greatest triumphs with “Young Ahmed”, the story of a teenager who embraces Islamic extremism.
The Belgian brothers’ gritty slices of working-class life are always set in their native French-speaking Wallonia, an area that served as the base for the terrorist cell responsible for the November 2015 Paris attacks.
Pain & Glory
Cannes usually only shows world premieres, but the festival has made an exception for its former jury head Pedro Almodovar’s most personal film.
Released in Spain and Mexico last month to almost universal acclaim, it is a psychodrama with a film director looking back on his life as his past catches up with him.
With Almodovar stalwarts Antonio Banderas and Nora Navas leading the cast alongside Penelope Cruz, it’s no wonder this is the most viewed Spanish film of the year so far.
Having wowed Cannes in 2016 with “Aquarius,” in which the amazing Sonia Braga shone, Brazilian director Kleber Mendonca Filho is back with what has been described as a “sinister genre piece” again starring Braga in a western set in the country’s vast interior.
Portrait of a Young Woman on Fire
Celine Sciamma, who won rave reviews for “Girlhood,” her 2014 tale of young black girls growing up in the gritty French suburbs, returns with the story of a painter commissioned to do the portrait of a young woman in the 18th century.
The film stars Adele Haenel, one of France’s most sought-after young actresses.
The Wild Goose Lake
The sole Chinese contender is Diao Yinan, who won the top prize at the Berlin film festival in 2014 for another crime story, “Black Coal, Thin Ice.”
This movie is in a similar noirish vein with a group of gangsters forming a union to take control of city.
Roubaix, a Light
Arnaud Desplechin, the whimsical director of the 2004 film “Kings & Queens,” explores his native northern French town of Roubaix in his latest feature starring Roschdy Zem, Lea Seydoux and Sara Forestier.
Austrian-born director Jessica Hausner delves into the near future in a film about genetic modification featuring rising British star Ben Whishaw and Emily Beecham.
French actor-director Ladj Ly, who grew up filming his high-rise Paris suburb, makes his Cannes debut with his first feature film set in the deprived neighborhood where the 2005 Paris riots kicked off.
It Must Be Heaven
Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, who was nominated for the Palme d’Or in 2002 with “Divine Intervention” about a love affair across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, travels to Paris, New York and other cities for a film about wandering and exile.
“Sibyl” by Justine Triet depicts a burnt-out psychotherapist who ditches most of her patients to return to her first love of writing but is short on inspiration until she counsels a distressed young actress played by Adele Exarchopoulos of the Cannes-winning 2013 lesbian drama “Blue is the Warmest Colour.”
US director Ira Sachs, of “Little Men” and “Love is Strange” fame casts Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson and Marisa Tomei in a film about three generations coming to terms with a major event during a holiday in Portugal.
Also known as “The Passenger,” Romanian new wave director Corneliu Porumboiu has a detective fly from Bucharest to La Gomera in the Canary Islands to help a criminal escape from prison.
The debut feature of Mati Diop, a young actress-director born in France to Senegalese parents, is set on a building site in Dakar where the workers decide to take to sea to seek a better life beyond Senegal.
Cover image taken at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018 in Cannes, southeastern France. (Source: AFP)