1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Cannes Film Festival: 10 things to know

Jochen Kürten sh
May 14, 2019

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival boasts big-name directors from Quentin Tarantino to Pedro Almodovar — plus plenty of fresh faces. Running May 14-25, here's what to look out for during this year's French Riviera film gala.

Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" will have its premiereImage: picture-alliance/A. Cooper

1. The opening film

An icon of American independent cinema, Jim Jarmusch, opens the festival on May 14. With his new film, The Dead Don't Die, the director presents a not-so-serious zombie movie. Bill Murray and Adam Driver play an offbeat cop team, dealing with lots of bloody undead. Tilda Swinton and Danny Glover, as well as music veterans Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, are also in the satirical horror flick. With so many big names, it's sure to be busy a busy premiere on the red carpet.

2. The competition

Twenty more films are competing for the top Golden Palm prize. And as always, the festival is packed with stars, including regulars from previous years and some newbies. Spain's master director Pedro Almodovar presents a new melodrama, as do two-time Belgian winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. From Great Britain comes veteran Ken Loach, while the US is represented by Terrence Malick, and Canada by prodigy Xavier Dolan. The French films on offer, with the exception of Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Color), are made by lesser-known names. The competition is topped off by films from China and South Korea, Brazil and Palestine.

3. Quentin Tarantino

Only a few days before the beginning of the festival, the organizers were proud to announce the long-awaited film by star director Quentin Tarantino. His new flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was finished right in the nick of time — fortunately for the Cannes audience. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt (pictured above in a still from the film) and Margot Robbie are the protagonists in this drama set in the late 1960s as the hippie movement grips Hollywood.

4. Where are the Germans?

It hasn't been easy for Germany in recent years. German directors are rarely invited by Cote d'Azur festival organizers, as is the case for 2019. Yet, Germany's money is represented, with four co-productions receiving German funding. There is also some German-language presence, with the Austrian Jessica Hausner invited to the competition for her film Little Joe. In a side event, Werner Herzog's new film Family Romance, LLC, which he filmed in Japan with amateur actors, will also be presented.

5. The jury

Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will head a prominent jury this year, and will announce the winner of the Golden Palm on May 25. This year's judges include actresses Elle Fanning (US) and Maimouna N'Diaye (Burkina Faso), as well as a host of directing celebrities: Alice Rohrwacher (Italy), Enki Bilal and Robin Campillo from France, Kelly Reichardt (USA) and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos.

Read more: The surprise Palme d'Or win for Japanese drama 'Shoplifters' at Cannes

Elton John
A new film about musician Elton John will premiere out of competitionImage: picture-alliance/dpa

6. Special side events

Cannes, too, has special series where all new developments in the world of film are put on display — even those which aren't competing for the main awards.  World premieres, for example, include the Elton John Biography, Rocket Man. Also, a new film by Claude Lelouch (81) Les plus belles annees d'une vie, with legendary actors Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant, will be screening. Last but not least, films by prominent directors such as Bruno Dumont and Christophe Honore are in the secondary section called "Un Certain Regard."

7. Honorary Golden Palm

Each year, the honorary award of the festival goes to a worthy actor or actress with years of success behind them. This year, it goes to iconic French actor and screen idol Alain Delon. Born in 1935, the actor has worked in cinema since the late 1950s, having appeared in over 80 films. Considered one of the greatest actors of European cinema, his biggest successes include films like Purple NoonLe Samourai and The Leopard.

8. The Netflix dispute

In recent years the festival has become a pioneer in the fight against the participation of Netflix films. In contrast to the festivals in Berlin and Venice, Cannes does not show any productions in the competition which do not run in theaters. Cannes sees this as a statement of solidarity with cinemas, which means new films by star directors like Martin Scorsese or Steven Soderbergh have not been invited to participate.

Jessica Hausner
A film by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner will compete for the Golden Palm.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Boesl

9. The women

This year, the festival has only four films by female directors. "In the Men's Club of Cannes, this could be described as progress," mocked the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. Indeed, there have been even fewer female directors in recent Cannes competitions. Apart from Austrian Jessica Hausner, three French directors, Mati Diop, Celine Sciamma and Justine Triet, are represented in the race for the Golden Palm.

Read moreCannes: Female movie stars demand improved gender equality

10. The final film 

Closing the festival is a film by successful directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, Hors Normes (The Specials), and it's likely to be met with great interest. Telling the story of an autistic youth, the comedy features acting greats such as Vincent Cassel and Reda Kateb, and plenty of fresh talent. The directors' biggest hit was Untouchable in 2011, while their lively wedding film C'est la Vie! was released two years ago.

In the Cannes