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Cannes reveals 'political' competition line-up

April 12, 2018

Two dissident directors are part of the festival's selection: the Iranian Jafar Panahi and the Russian Kirill Serebrennikov. Other provocative filmmakers are part of the line-up, including Jean-Luc Godard and Spike Lee.

Deutschland Regisseur Spike Lee
Image: Getty Images/P. Le Segretain

The Cannes film festival unveiled Thursday its selection featuring highly political names. Iranian director Jafar Panahi and his Russian counterpart Kirill Serebrennikov are in the running for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize — even though neither can leave their country.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux said he is pleading with the two countries' authorities to allow Panahi, who is under a work and travel ban, and Serebrennikov, who is under house arrest, to be allowed to fly to the festival on the French Riviera next month to show their new films, "Three Faces" and "Leto."

Read more: Opinion: Iranian film 'Taxi' goes beyond political resistance

BG Berlinale Rückblick Sieger | Kinostart - "Taxi Teheran"
Panahi's film "Taxi," in which he also played the lead role (photo), won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2015Image: picture alliance/dpa/Weltkinofilmverleih

Another renowned political voice, US director Spike Lee, is also in the line-up. His film "BlacKkKlansman," starring Adam Driver ("Star Wars"), is about a black policeman who manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.

Nouvelle Vague provocateur Jean-Luc Godard is in the running latest work, "Le livre d'image." This year's film festival poster is based on a still from Godard's 1965 classic, "Pierrot le fou," which shows Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina kissing. 

Read more: 'Grotesque' selfies banned at Cannes Film Festival

#MeToo, Pope Francis and Han Solo

Even though the movie industry has been dominated by the #MeToo movement in the last year, only three women directors will be vying for the Palme d'Or among a selection of 18 works: Lebanon's Nadine Labaki for "Capernaum," France's Eva Husson for "Girls of the Sun," and Italian Alice Rohrwacher with "Lazzaro Felice."

The jury will, however, be headed by Australian actress Cate Blanchett.

German veteran Wim Wenders will be showing his documentary, "Pope Francis — A Man of his Word," in a special section, while the latest Star Wars spin-off focusing on Han Solo, "Solo: A Star Wars Story," will celebrate its premiere, adding stars to the festival's legendary red carpet.

Netflix pulls out of festival

Hours before the announcement of the selection, streaming giant Netflix announced it was pulling out of the festival despite potentially having four films in the running for honors, including Paul Greengrass' much-awaited "Norway" about the 2010 Utoya massacre.

Netflix's surprise move is seen as retaliation for a new Cannes rule banning movies that are not first released in French cinemas from the competition.

Read more: Opinion: The showdown between Netflix and Cannes

eg/ (AFP, dpa)