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As always, a lot of good people are expected on the Croisette for the second half of May, from Martin Scorsese’s big comeback with Killers of the Flower Moon, to the stunning casting of Wes Anderson’s new film, Asteroid City. Among a rich and eclectic selection, between regulars and newcomers, three films particularly attract our curiosity. 

© Fred Gervais

Strange Way of Life by Pedro Almodóvar – Special screening

After collaborating with Gaspar Noé on Lux Aeterna (also presented at the Cannes Festival in 2019), the Saint Laurent house and its artistic director Anthony Vaccarello are accompanying Pedro Almodovar, this time for his second English-language film, following on from the short film La Voix Humaine made in 2020 with Tilda Swinton.

© Iglesias Más

Strange Way of Life is a 30-minute western that will give the Cannes Film Festival a nice red carpet with its two main actors, Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. Collaboration between cinema and fashion houses is in the air at the moment: in 2019, the Italian Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) presented The Staggering Girl, shot in collaboration with Valentino, at the Directors’ Fortnight; while Saint Laurent has announced new film projects with Gaspar Noé, Paolo Sorrentino, David Cronenberg, Wong Kar-wai, and Jim Jarmusch. Filmmakers who, along with Almodovar, participated in a recent advertising campaign for the brand.

For this western filmed in the south of Spain, Almodovar promises us dialogue “never spoken by cowboys.” Coming from the author of All About My Mother and Volver, the project is intriguing. 

Simple comme Sylvain by Monia Chokri – Un Certain Regard

It was in the “Un Certain Regard” selection that we discovered in 2019 that Monia Chokri was not only a great actor (with Xavier Dolan, in particular), but also a promising director.

© Fred Gervais

At the opening of this parallel section dedicated to young filmmakers, she presented La Femme de mon frère, a very funny, tender, and rarely mastered first film. After a more conceptual diversions with Babysitter (2022), which was less convincing, the Quebecer seems to be returning to the style of her first feature film with Simple comme Sylvain: the story of a rich Montrealer who has been married for ten years and falls in love with a country entrepreneur. “Opposites attract” announces the official synopsis of this comedy starring Magalie Lépine-Blondeau (a close friend of Monia Chokri, already seen in La Femme de mon frère) and Pierre-Yves Cardinal (Tom à la ferme).

Les Filles d’Olfa by Kaouther Ben Hania – Official Competition

Almost twenty years have passed without a documentary film being honored in the official competition of the Cannes Festival.

© Jour de Fête

This absence has been remedied, as in this “Year of the Documentary,” two films are competing for the Palme d’Or: Jeunesse by the tireless Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing, and – more surprisingly – Les Filles d’Olfa, a new foray into non-fiction for director Kaouther Ben Hania, one of the most prominent young Tunisian filmmakers.

She had already presented La Belle et la meute in Cannes in 2017, and her next film, L’Homme qui a vendu sa peau, represented her country at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film in 2021. For Olfa’s Daughters, Kaouther Ben Hania followed a Tunisian housekeeper for ten years, trying everything to get back her daughters, who were imprisoned in Libya where they left as teenagers to join Daesh.

To fill in the gaps in her story, the director called on professional actors. A hybrid work, therefore, which promises to be poignant. It should be remembered that the few times that documentaries have entered the competition, the result has been more than satisfactory – with the Palme d’Or for Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle’s Le Monde du Silence in 1958, and for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. Verdict on 27 May. 

Cannes – France

Pierre Charpilloz