The Cannes Film Festival, the premiere event of international cinema, has released its full slate. For now. It is known for last minute additions. (This is part of the charm.)
Unfortunately, no Israeli films were selected for the main competition for the Palme D’Or. Although some of the 18 titles were made by Jewish directors. Mike Leigh from Great Britain returns to Cannes with “Mr. Turner” a biopic of artist J.M.W. Turner, played by Timothy Spall.
Jewish-Canadian weirdo David Cronenberg also returns, this time with “Map to the Stars,” a jaundiced look at Hollywood. Bennett Miller, director of “Moneyball,” is competing with “Foxcatcher,” about the strange and tragic life of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz, starring Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell.
Olivier Assayas, a French director of Jewish background, returns with “Clouds of Sils Maria,” an “All About Eve”-sounding story with Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe G. Moretz. French-Jewish director Michel Hazanavicius, whose last film was “The Artist,” will also be in competition with “The Search,” a drama set in Chechnya starring his wife Berenice Bejo.
Cannes, being the most exhaustive and exhausting festival of the year, won’t suffice with just the main competition. There are multiple other divisions, and Israeli cinema fares better in those.
In the “Un Certain Regard” category, director Keren Yedaya, who won the Camera D’Or prize for first filmmaker with “Or (My Treasure)” in 2004, returns with “Away From His Absence,” a story about an incestuous relationship between a 60-year-old man and his 20-year-old daughter.
In the “International Critics’ Week” category, there are two Israeli films. Shira Geffen, who co-directed the widely acclaimed “Jellyfish” with her husband Etgar Keret, will be here with her first solo effort, “Self Made.” The film concerns an Israeli and Palestinian woman who “switch lives” at a checkpoint.
Also at International Critics’ Week, but not “in competition” (see, I told you it gets complicated) is “The Kindergarten Teacher” by Navid Lapid. This is Lapid’s follow-up to the thrilling class-war drama “Policeman.” Details about this new one are still scarce.
There’s still one more major category, a parallel festival called the “Directors’ Fortnight,” and two Israeli films are included here as well. “Gett — the Trial of Viviane Ansalem,” is drama about a woman’s drawn-out struggle to obtain a divorce, written and directed by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz. Asaf Korman’s “Next to Her” concerns a 27-year-old woman who is a primary caretaker for her disabled 22-year-old sister.
Lastly, there is the “Cinefondation” section for student shorts. The 27-minute “The Visit” comes to us from Inbar Horesh of the Mishnar School for Art in Tel Aviv.
All together it’s a pretty nice haul for Israel.
To keep things interesting, the main competition does include new works by vocal anti-Zionists, the talented realist filmmaker Ken Loach of Great Britain and the elder statesman of the “Nouvelle Vague,” Swiss “enfent terrible” Jean-Luc Godard.
We’ll be on the scene for the duration of the festival from May 14-25.