A few SWANA gems included in Cannes first official selection announcement

With things done a bit differently this year, the festival has yet to unveil the official poster for its 75th edition, announce the juries as well as a few additional titles to come next week.
A few SWANA gems included in Cannes first official selection announcement

On a clear, sunny Thursday morning in Paris, Pierre Lescure, President of the Festival de Cannes, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, presented the Official Selection of the 75th Festival de Cannes. The press conference took place at the Theatre Normandie, which Lescure admitted is "a cult place for us," while also streaming live worldwide on the festival's social media channels.

The new partners for this year's festival include Tik Tok, showing a real grasp towards moving into the future of cinema on the Cannes organizers' part, and BMW, with their electric cars, as Lescure explained, which also aims to care for the city of Cannes, that has been welcoming the festival and its delegates for the past 75 years. He also welcomed Campari as the official "aperitif" partner of the festival.

"This is going to be the last festival for Pierre as Chairman and I’d like to commend him," said Frémaux and the audience exploded in applause. A French journalist and television executive, Lescure has been president of the Festival de Cannes since 2015 and will step down next year, to be replaced by Iris Knobloch -- the first time a woman will be at the helm of the esteemed festival.

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the first Cannes and Frémaux promised lots of filmmakers descending on the Croisette on May 24th, the precise anniversary day. "We will question the role of festivals and evolvement of techniques for filmmakers," he explained, as well as re-examining questions posed in the 1982 documentary film Room 666, directed by German film director Wim Wenders. "Is cinema a language that is being lost or an art form that is dying?" The answers should be answered this coming May.

For the upcoming edition of the festival there are 35,000 people accredited, almost a return to normality. The usual number is over 40,000 accredited for Cannes, and the reduction in numbers is due to the absence of the Asian attendees as the continent isn't all back to normal on travel. 

Among the films from the SWANA region in the official selection, there is Nos Frangins by French Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb screening in the Cannes Premiere section -- "the third part of his trilogy on a kind of history of France," as Frémaux explained.

In Un Certain Regard (a new gaze, as Frémaux calls it) there is Kurak Günler ("Burning days") by Turkish filmmaker Emin Alper. As well as the first ever movie from Pakistan to reach the Cannes official selection Joyland by Saim Sadiq, a first feature by the filmmaker.

There are a total of 18 movies in the Cannes official Competition and Frémaux joked that "155 different countries submitted films, so we are not too far from the United Nations." While the serious business of cinema is the obvious mission of the Festival de Cannes, at times a sense of humour seems to be forgotten, particularly in their selection of projects...

Holy Spider from Iran, Ali Abbasi's follow up to Border will play in Competition, as will the Iranian Leila's Brothers by Saeed Roustaee starring Navid Mohammadzadeh. Frère et soeur by French director Arnaud Desplechin features Iranian thespian Golshifteh Farahani so the country is well represented on the Croisette.

Less represented at the moment is North Africa and the rest of the Middle East, with only one title, the Egyptian Boy from Heaven by Swedish-born Tarik Saleh in Competition. But Frémaux promised more women filmmakers from the Maghreb in next week's announcement. Meanwhile, Saleh's film revolves around what the conversations and theological debates are in a country like Egypt and features actors Fares Fares and Mohammad Bakri.

The festival will kick off with Z (Comme Z) by Michel Hazanavicius, his own take on the war in Chechnya, which Frémaux said is "like a comedy Zombie film." The story revolves around the filming of a zombie film and is mixed in with the history of cinema.

Already announced earlier are Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise, and Elvis by Baz Luhrmann, which features the story of the King and Colonel Parker, the latter played by Tom Hanks. 

For the entire lineup check out the Festival de Cannes website.

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