Cannes Film Festival 2020
In a year of unprecedented cancellations of major cultural events, none hit cinephiles quite as hard as the news that the Cannes Film Festival would not be taking place.
Last year’s fest was hailed as one of the strongest yet, hosting international premieres of titles that went on to become firm audience favourites at the Showroom - including Pain and Glory, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Mati Diop’s Atlantics and South Korean thriller Parasite.
Parasite of course picked up the top prize at Cannes, before smashing through what director Bong Joon-ho called the “one-inch tall barrier of subtitles” to become the first ever non-English language Best Picture winner at the Oscars earlier this year.
The success of Bong’s film demonstrates just how important Cannes is as a launchpad for films, with the buzz the title generated at the festival undoubtedly contributing to its much-deserved commercial and critical triumph this year.
Whilst the festival’s massive marketplace (a hugely important annual fixture for the film industry) took place online, there was no digital edition of the festival itself. Instead, last month, festival president Pierre Lescure unveiled a list of 56 films that would have premiered at the fest. All of the films in the list will receive a “Cannes 2020” label, a seal of approval that will accompany them at their premieres at later festivals still planned for this year.
At the top of the list is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, undoubtedly the highest-profile title and one we’re especially excited about. Pencilled for a UK release this October, the film is Anderson’s first feature since 2018’s Isle of Dogs, and hosts a star-studded cast including Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and more.
We’re also excited to see Francis Lee’s period romance Ammonite (starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan) appear in Cannes “Newcomers” section, which highlights up and coming filmmakers. Ammonite, set in England in the 1840s, is Lee’s follow-up to 2017’s ground-breaking gay romance God’s Own Country.
Other notable titles on the list include Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round starring Mads Mikkelsen; Aya and the Witch, the latest film from beloved Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli; and two South Korean films - Im Sang-soo’s Heaven: To the Land of Happiness, and Yeon Sang-ho’s Peninsula, the much-anticipated sequel to 2016’s zombie apocalypse film Train to Busan.
The list also notably features two films from celebrated British director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Hunger) from his upcoming “Small Axe” series for the BBC. Small Axe is an anthology of five feature films focusing on personal stories about London’s West Indian community from the late-1960’s to the mid-1980s. The two films in the Official Selection are Mangrove, about a group of British black activists known as the Mangrove Nine who were tried in 1970 for inciting a riot, and Lover’s Rock - a fictional story of young love and music at a blues party in the 80s. Both are undoubtedly timely stories to tell at the moment in the light of recent events.
There’s lots more to discover too, on what is an incredibly exciting list for film fans, and we can’t wait to bring some of these titles to audiences in Sheffield - on the big screen, where they deserve to be seen.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on 9 July 2020.