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13 Films to Anticipate at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival


With the Cannes Film Festival underway and Vadim Rizov and Blake Williams readying their first dispatches, here, from our team, are 13 films that we think should be on your radar here on the Croisette.

Asteroid City. Following Moonrise Kingdom and The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s newest film is his third to premiere at Cannes. Asteroid City boasts a typically sprawling ensemble cast of both returning regulars (Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe) and high-profile new additions (including Tom Hanks and Scarlett Johansson). While the thematic elements are familiar—dead and disappointing parents, extremely ambitious playwrights and a dedicated elementary school teacher are all present—the presence of aliens is definitely new, and the look, accurately describable as “Looney Tunes meets Red Desert,” is immaculate and uncanny. — Vadim Rizov

Anselm. German filmmaker Wim Wenders is, along with James Cameron and Ang Lee, one of the last men standing in the film industry’s underachieving Digital 3D wave. Indeed, this documentary portrait of artist Anselm Kiefer—shot in 6K and unlikely to ever be seen in that resolution—is the first 3D film to screen in Cannes in the last five years (the most recent, of course, being Bi Gan’s post-converted 3D dream-along, Long Day’s Journey Into Night). It’s also the first film Wenders has shot in the format since the one-two punch of Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015) and The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez (2016). But Wenders’s stereoscopic period achieved acclaim not for the unfortunate instances in which he applied it to fiction; his portrait of the late Pina Bausch is one of the most commercially and critically successful documentaries of this century and remains the only 3D film to earn a spine number in the Criterion Collection. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of Kiefer’s sculptures in person, but I did see and enjoy Sophie Fiennes’s film about the artist’s site-specific installation “La Ribaut,” Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow—also a Special Screening premiere in Cannes, back in 2010. I don’t anticipate Anselm will satisfy any sort of realist fantasy of “being there,” but I’m excited to see Wenders’s camera collaborate with Kiefer’s senses of history, material and space. — Blake Williams

Riddle of Fire. With his debut edition, incoming Directors Fortnight artistic director Julien Rejl has promised to take the Cannes section, created as an alternative to the main program in 1969 following the protests of May ’68, back to its founding “by filmmakers for filmmakers” mission (a tagline that resonates with us here at Filmmaker.) The section’s aims: “To seek out singular cinematic writing over and above categories and genres, and to welcome hybrid forms; to refuse all kinds of quotas relating to nationality, sex or genre; to not prioritise films which already have distributors and sales agents, to avoid the pitfall of overly standardised films and to not favour high-quality feature films which might be selected for the official competition, because the Directors’ Fortnight is first and foremost a place of discovery.” So this American-independent-focused editor-in-chief is especially looking forward to L.A.-based Weston Razooli’s Riddle of Fire, the U.S. title I knew the least about when the lineup dropped and, as the festival starts, has just the sparest of websites. The picture is dubbed a Wyoming-set “neo-Western fairy tale” about “three mischievous children as they embark on an odyssey when their mother asks them to run an errand.”  — Scott Macaulay

The Delinquents. Early word on this Un Certain Regard selection by Rodrigo Moreno has raised comparisons to another playful recent Argentinian film, Trenque Lauquen, that starts from a simple premise to expand unpredictably outwards via branching stories-within-stories. (Both films also share an important cast member, Laura Peredes.) That expansive method would explain the three-hour runtime for a movie with a relatively simple premise (disgruntled coworkers + a heist = cinema) and hopefully promises an unpredictably good time. — VR

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell. For an unknown quantity, Pham Thien An’s debut feature grabbed my attention fairly immediately, first with a strong batch of initial publicity images (well-composed glimpses of characters contemplating Southeast Asian rural and urban landscapes through a variety of windows; my fest-filler detector was not triggered), then with its running time—182 minutes, a sweet spot for cine-indulgence I tend to have patience for. Inside the Yellow Coccoon Shell was adapted from Pham’s Stay Awake, Be Ready, a 14-minute, single-take short centered around a motorbike accident, a film that won the Quinzaine’s Illy Prize in 2019. Cocoon allegedly expands outward from the accident to follow a character’s faith-challenging quest to locate his brother. Unsurprisingly, Pham’s filmmaking practice began with a focus on cinematography. In 2015, he moved from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) to my own hometown of Houston, Texas, as if I needed another element to draw me in. — BW

Close Your Eyes. The premiere of Scorsese’s latest epic may have grabbed most of the headlines and hype leading up to and following this year’s lineup announcement, but for my money Cannes 2023’s “event” is the return of Víctor Erice, whose hasn’t made a fiction feature since 1992’s El sol del membrillo. Close Your Eyes is Erice’s first long project since his 2007 correspondence film with Abbas Kiarostami. Membrillo topped, among other influential polls, the esteemed Cinematheque Ontario’s survey of Best Films of the 1990s, and Erice’s earlier work, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) and El sur (1983), remain landmarks of late- and post-Franco Spanish cinema. At 169 minutes, Close Your Eyes is nearly twice as long as anything Erice has ever made, suggesting a clog of pent-up creative urges that finally found a means to burst. — BW

The Pot-au-Feu. After a series of tepidly received films that followed his reputation-making trio of The Scent of Green Papaya, Cyclo and The Vertical Ray of the Run, Vietnamese-born director Tran Anh Hung returns with an adaptation of Marcel Rouff’s gastronomically-fixated The Passion of Dodin-Bouffant. The logline of the movie is centered around a romance that, in the novel, has already ended by the time the story’s begun; that suggests a loose adaptation but one nonetheless likely to join Babette’s Feast and Big Night in the ranks of food-forward films. — VR

The Feeling that the Time for Doing Something Has Passed. It’s been a decade since New York-based independent filmmaker Joanna Arnow’s feature debut, i hate myself:), and five years since her Berlinale Silver Bear-winning short, Bad at Dancing. With her latest, the Directors’ Fortnight-premiering The Feeling that the Time for Doing Something Has Passed, the director stars in a film that, from its synopsis, continues her exploration of gender, sexuality, kink and various forms of alt-relationships. This time, however, Arnow’s protagonist, Ann (played by the filmmaker) is confronting the thirthysomething emotion helpfully delineated by the film’s title. Arnow’s previous work has been raw and emotionally fearless — as she wrote here upon the release of i hate myself:), “By confronting what was uncomfortable in this film, I hoped to encourage others to look at who they are more openly too. I wanted this film to help change our culture of shame and conformity by challenging accepted norms of behavior” — and this looks to follow suit. — SM

The Sweet East. Never Rarely Something Always‘s Talia Ryder is the heroine in debuting director Sean Price Williams’s Directors’ Fortnight picaresque,  traveling along a grubby American East Coast, where, beginning with Washington, D.C., the country’s foundational mythologies lie ready for all manner of creative destruction. Critic Nick Pinkerton makes his screenwriting debut with this Candide/Candy-like story (although his stated references are more “Moll Flanders and Thackeray and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — along with, he adds in the press notes, Two-Lane Blacktop and Candy Mountain). Williams, of course, is the legendary New York cinematographer often known for his disarmingly poetic celluloid aesthetic. (His credits include independent pictures by the Safdie Brothers, Michael Almereyda, Owen Kline, Jessica Oreck and Alex Ross Perry, and he shoots here as well.) Supporting players include Red Rocket‘s Simon Rex, Euphoria‘s Jacob Elordi, the Butthole Surfers’s Gibby Haynes and as a pair of street-casting filmmakers whose hyperbolic enthusiasm will be familiar to anyone who has attended a project market, Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy O. Harris. — SM

Eureka. The premiere “art” film of this year’s Cannes line-up, the long-gestating and highly-anticipated Eureka is Argentinian filmmaker Lisandro Alonso’s time- and geography-hopping epic that claims to examine the Americas’ indigenous populations over the centuries. The synopsis poetically mentions something about a bird (the eponymous Eureka!) and the nature of humanity. Whatever it’s “about” (I’m trying to go in as cold as possible, so excuse the lack of details), it’s sure to be among the more provocative, aesthetically demanding and visually rapturous films of the festival. — BW

May December. Reuniting director Julianne Moore (co-starring here alongside Natalie Portman) with director Todd Haynes, Competition title May December astonishingly represents the director’s first largely contemporary-set theatrical feature since that film as well. A rare U.S. independent acquisition title premiering in Cannes (another one is later on this list), the picture is based on a Black List-placing script by casting director-turned-screenwriter Samy Burch about a journalist (Portman) researching a biographical story about an actress (Moore) and her much younger husband (Charles Melton), still together and with college-bound kids more than 20 years after their age-gapped relationship’s scandalous early days. – SM

Anatomy of a Fall. Very funny as an extremely frazzled director in Justine Triet’s terrific previous film, Sybil, Sandra Hüller reteams with the idiosyncratic auteur for what MK2 Films’s website describes as a “Hitchcockian procedural thriller.” Given the unpredictable, genre-stretching shape of Triet’s previous work, it’s safe to expect that there will be more than just plot surprises in her new film, co-written with Arthur Harari, who’s acted in all of Triet’s features to date (he’s also one of the stars of this year’s Directors Fortnight opener, The Goldman Case) and is a director in his own right, most recently of the excellent Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle. — VR

Black Flies. Following 2017’s Thai-boxing picture A Prayer Before Dawn Jean-Stephane Sauvaire, who previously directed the Liberian child soldier film Johnny Mad Dog, returns to Cannes, this time in Competition, with Black Flies. It’s the New York-based French director’s first film toplined by American movie stars — Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan — and another acquisition title. Sauvaire’s cinematic milieu customarily features violent cultures and combustible situations, captured with propulsive immediacy and doc-style verisimilitude, so this thriller about two New York City emergency paramedics, a veteran and his young partner, promises fireworks in the center of its frame but also exploding in from the edges. — SM



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