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Cannes film festival 2023: Stars and highlights

Torsten Landsberg
May 16, 2023

There was plenty of Hollywood star power on the red carpet as the Cannes film festival kicked off with Johnny Depp as King Louis XV in 'Jeanne du Barry.'

From left to right: Melvil Poupaud, Pascal Greggory, Benjamin Lavernhe, Pierre Richard, Johnny Depp, Maiwenn, Diego Le Fur and Pauline Pollman on the red carpet at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 16, 2023 in Cannes, France.
Image: Niviere David/ABACAPRESS.COM/picture alliance

With its picturesque location on the French Riviera and its long, storied history, Cannes remains Europe's most prestigious film festival. This year's edition, which started on Tuesday evening and will run until May 27th, is the 76th — again features plenty of prominent attendees.

The festival opened with the film "Jeanne du Barry," starring Johnny Depp as King Louis XV. In the film, the king falls for a young woman from a working-class background and makes her his latest mistress.

Film still from 'Jeanne du Barry': Period scene with Johnny Depp dressed as Louis XV in a ball room, surrounded by people, a  woman in period ball dress bows for him.
The festival opener was seen by some as a controversial choice: Maïwenn's 'Jeanne du Barry' stars Johnny DeppImage: Stéphanie Branchu/Festival De Cannes/Why Not Productions/dpa/picture alliance

The female lead is played by French actress Maïwenn, who also wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

Cannes is Depp's first cinematic appearance since the high-profile lawsuit between him and his ex-wife Amber Heard. While some critics billed the film as a "comeback" for Depp, others were critical of the fact that it got the coveted opening spot at Cannes.

"Jeanne du Barry" is screening out of competition at Cannes.

Film still from 'Killers of the Flower Moon': Two people at a table, their plates empty after a meal.
Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' which will also premiere out of competitionImage: Apple TV+/dpa/picture alliance

Last adventure for Indiana Jones?

Other prominent films making their world premiere out of compeition for the Palme d'Or include the latest installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, "Indiana Jones and the Wheel of Destiny." Martin Scorsese's three-and-a-half-hour "Killers of the Flower Moon," a western crime drama revolving around murders on a Native American reservation in the 1920s, will also debut. 

Now 80 years old, Harrison Ford plunges into his last adventure in the role of archaeologist Henry Walton — aka Indiana Jones. The highly anticipated film follows the legendary trilogy released between 1981 and 1989, and the 2008 film that divided critics but brought in more than $800 million (€734 million) at the global box office.

Scorsese, meanwhile, directs a star-studded cast in "Killers of the Flower Moon" it's the sixth time the director has worked with Leonardo DiCaprio and the 10th time he's cast Robert De Niro. Also on board is recent Oscar winner Brendan Fraser, who took home the best actor award for his leading role in "The Whale" earlier this year.

Film still from 'Asteroid City': Scarlett Johansson at a window sill of a home in the desert.
A highly anticipated film is 'Asteroid City' by Wes Anderson, featuring Scarlett Johansson and an ensemble castImage: Focus Features/ZUMA/picture alliance

Plenty of Hollywood stars are appearing in competition films. Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore star in Todd Haynes' romantic drama "May December," and Scarlett Johansson appears in Wes Anderson's science fiction film, "Asteroid City." Also in competition is German actress Sandra Hüller ("Toni Erdmann"), who stars in Jonathan Glazer's Holocaust drama, "The Zone of Interest."

Of the 21 entries in competition, only six came from women directors. Still, that's a new record for the number of female directors represented at Cannes.

Among them is French-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, competing with her feature debut, "Banel & Adama." The film features a cast of non-professional actors performing in Pulaar, a language spoken in the Senegalese River valley area, where the film was shot.

Film still from 'Banel & Adama': two people standing back to back, against the sun.
'Banel & Adama' features a non-professional cast from SenegalImage: La Chauve Souris - Take Shelter

Toilets in Tokyo

German director Wim Wenders has a film in competition at Cannes for the 10th time. The 1984 Cannes winner will present his film "Perfect Days," which tells the story of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo

Wim Wenders
German filmmaker Wim Wenders premieres two new works at the festivalImage: Shuji Kajiyama/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Another work by Wenders, the 3D documentary "Anselm," about the German painter Anselm Kiefer, will also celebrate its world premiere in Cannes.

The film "Goodbye Julia" by director Mohamed Kordofani will be the first film from Sudan to premiere at Cannes. The movie tells the story of Mona, who lives in northern Sudan and is plagued by guilt after covering up a murder. To ease her guilt, she takes in a South Sudanese widow, Julia, and her son Daniel.

Film still from 'Goodbye Julia,' showing two women. The one on the left has her hair in a bun and is wearing a pink robe; the one on the left has short braided hair and is wearing a sleveless top.
'Goodbye Julia' deals with conflict between North and South Sudan.Image: Station Films

The plot leads up to the geopolitical conflict between North and South Sudan that is still to come in the film. The movie is part of the section "Un certain regard," which presents films with innovative styles and stories.

This article was originally written in German.

Opening night at Cannes Film Festival

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