10 things to expect from cannes 2016

Cinema, controversies, Chloë Sevigny – here's i-D's guide to all things Cannes.

by Colin Crummy
12 May 2016, 8:42pm

Pedro Almodóvar's Julieta

Despite the increasing competition from film festivals worldwide, Cannes retains its place in the top tier at the ripe old age of 69. Even the prospect of rain (and thunderstorms) is unlikely to dampen spirits on the Croisette, where you expect to find all of the below from walkouts to premieres, red carpet controversy to Chloë Sevigny's short on turning into a kitten. 

Cannes is a safe bet for NSFW cinema whether you're after explicit sex scenes, mocking the mentally handicapped, or self administered genital mutilation with a pair of kitchen scissors. And that's just from Lars Von Trier. Elsewhere, filmmakers have hit the headlines for drawn-out rape scenes (in Gasper Noe's Irreversible), reveling in gory violence (Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver) and for being a bit shit (Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, which was savaged by the Cannes critics).

The Cannes audience do not give a monkey's if you're David Lynch, Terrence Malick, or Ang Lee. If they don't like Twin PeaksThe Tree of Life, or Taking Woodstock, they'll catcall their way through the entire thing. That said, the booing cannot be taken as an absolute marker of a film's quality or award winning capabilities. Many badly received Cannes premieres went on to win the festival's highest prize, the Palme d'Or, including Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which then got booed by some who felt it undeserved of the prize. Tough crowd.

If they really, really hate it, they make no bones about walking out either. Cannes is famed for audiences who refuse to stay to the closing credits. The ushers weren't taking numbers but the rule of thumb appears to be: if it gets booed, you are safe to assume people walk. Or, as the critic Roger Ebert said of Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, hundreds walked out and those who stayed only did so to boo. You really can't win with these guys.

Stéphanie Di Giusto's The Dancer

Even if you are having a bad day at the press screening, this year at least you can treat yourself to a Venti Frappuccino to go. Starbucks has arrived in Cannes this year in another blow to Europhiles on the South coast of France but a definitive win for any industry players who like their coffee large and to go and a reminder that it's a festival for doing business in, not just gawping at pretty frocks and seeing a few flicks in between times.

The Cannes parties start in town and then gravitate out and upwards as the evening approaches. There's glitzy lunch in beachside bars to begin, then in-town parties in the early evening. But the real action happens on private yachts and hilltop villas, like Leonardo DiCaprio's The Great Gatsby after party in 2013. We could pretend you can just go there, put on something fancy, and have a chance of getting in but you don't have a chance. Sorry about that.

Politics has always entered the Cannes arena, right from the festival's early years. In 1939, Hitler shut it down. In 1968, the festival jury closed it to show solidarity with student and workers' protest across France. Increasingly, the festival has come under scrutiny for its gender politics. Agnès Varda became the first woman to win the Palme d'Or in 2015, the same year a number of women were refused on to the red carpet without heels. That spotlight on gender is unlikely to lessen this year, where only three female filmmakers stand in the main competition.

It may not have the hit rate of the Oscars or the click bait worthiness of the Met Ball but Cannes is the place to go to see the chicest fashion as everyone tries out their best 'what would a doyen of European cinema do?' look. Except the men, who just wear tuxes.

Delphine Coulin + Muriel Coulin's The Stopover

Every man that is, except one. When doing promotional duties for Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen donned a lime green mankini for a photo opp on the French Riviera, in a moment that was to prove mood board for bachelor parties nationwide ever since.

Cannes got off to a solid start this year with the new Woody Allen film, Café Society. Most of the critical love at the first press screening of this 1930s set comedy was reserved for its leads Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. If her second Cannes premiere, Personal Shopper, wins them round too, Stewart could be eyeing a best actress prize by the end of the fortnight. To balance things out on the transatlantic front, Cannes favorite Marion Cotillard pops up in two premieres as well: Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World and the post world war drama From the Land of the Moon.

Lots of potential for great cinema this year at Cannes, from Dolan's French language film to premieres from perennial favorites like the Dardenne brothers and Pedro Almodóvar. Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold returns with her first U.S. film, American Honey; co-directing sisters Delphine Coulin and Muriel Coulin bring us The Stopover, about two female soldiers given three days to decompress in Cyrus; and Stéphanie Di Giusto's The Dancer, which sees Lily Rose Depp in her second festival outing of 2017, after the Sundance-premiering Yoga Hosers. Tucked away in a Shorts program is Kitty, the directorial debut of Chloë Sevigny, and a 15-minute tale of a girl who turns into a cat. You can read i-D's 10 films to watch out for here, and check out the actors and actresses to look out for.

Cannes runs from May 11-22.


Text Colin Crummy

Cannes 2016