Cannes film festival returns with comebacks, strikes, Trump, MeToo

A photo shows the festival logo ahead a press conference to announce the official selection of the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, at the UGC Normandie cinema in Paris, on 13 April, 2024. Artificial intelligence, QRCode, call buttons: the security of the 77th Cannes Film Festival will be imbued with technology with experimental devices at a time when the vigipirate plan is at its maximum level, less than three months before the Olympic Games.AFP

The Cannes Film Festival starts Tuesday with an action-packed script including the comeback of Hollywood icons, fears of a strike, a Donald Trump biopic and the shadow of MeToo accusations.

The return of ‘The Godfather’ director Francis Ford Coppola with his decades-in-the-making epic ‘Megalopolis’ is the most anticipated of this year's entries for the top prize Palme d'Or.

It is one of 22 films competing for the affections of a jury led by ‘Barbie’ director Greta Gerwig, which will announce its verdict on 25 May.

Those walking the red carpet include actors Richard Gere, Demi Moore and Kevin Costner, all present in new films. Three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep and ‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas will also receive honorary awards.

And the latest from George Miller's ‘Mad Max’ universe, ‘Furiosa’, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, will also get its world premiere on Wednesday.

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But there are darker plotlines at the 77th edition of the festival.

France's film industry is in the midst of a belated MeToo reckoning, with a string of accusations against its biggest star, Gerard Depardieu, and rumours in the run-up to Cannes of more accusations to come against high-profile figures.

Actor Judith Godreche, who has accused two directors of assaulting her when she was a teenager, is presenting a short film, ‘Moi Aussi’ (Me Too) aimed at encouraging more women to come forward.

Meanwhile, one of the directors in competition, Iran's award-winning Mohammad Rasoulof, has just been jailed in his home country on security charges days before he was due to present "The Seed of the Sacred Fig".

And a group of festival employees have called for a strike over pay and conditions that could cause disruption at the event.

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Trump, Coppola, Stone

Among the entries for the Palme d'Or is ‘The Apprentice’, a biopic of Trump's formative years from Iranian-born director Ali Abbasi. It stars Sebastian Stan, known for playing the Winter Soldier in Marvel films.

And ‘Emilia Perez’ has quite the synopsis: a musical about a Mexican cartel boss undergoing a sex change to escape the authorities, directed by France's own Golden Palm winner Jacques Audiard. Pop superstar Selena Gomez appears in a supporting role.

But the hot ticket is undoubtedly Coppola's ‘Megalopolis’ on Thursday. A Roman epic set in modern-day New York, it stars Adam Driver as a visionary architect seeking to rebuild the crumbling city.

There is a growing sense of anticipation over whether the 85-year-old director can match his masterpieces of the 1970s, when he twice won the Palme d'Or for ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Conversation’.

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Elsewhere, Emma Stone reunites with director Yorgos Lanthimos, fresh from their Oscar triumph with ‘Poor Things’, for ‘Kinds of Kindness’.

It co-stars up-and-coming actor Margaret Qualley, daughter of Andie McDowell, who also features in Demi Moore's unlikely comeback, slasher-horror ‘The Substance’.

Film fans are also excited for new works from body-horror maestro David Cronenberg (The Shrouds), Italy's Paolo Sorrentino (Parthenope) and Oliver Stone (‘Lula’, a documentary about Brazil's president).

Playing out of competition, Costner returns to his favourite genre, the Western, with the epic ‘Horizon, an American Saga’.

And one of China's biggest-ever productions, ‘She's Got No Name’, features megastar Ziyi Zhang tackling the highly sensitive topic of women's rights.

Legendary Japanese animators Studio Ghibli -- makers of ‘Spirited Away’, ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ and ‘Howl's Moving Castle’ -- will receive an honorary Palme d'Or, the first offered to a group.

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