From an empty movie theater in Paris, organizers of the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday announced the films that would have played at there in May had it not been canceled by the pandemic.
The selections were an exercise in what-might-have-been for Cannes, the premier international film festival that for the last 73 years has been the most prestigious and glitzy annual gathering of the global movie industry. The French festival, originally slated for mid-May, initially considered postponing to July but ultimately gave up on a 2020 edition.
Hearing what would have premiered on the Crosiette this year offered a tantalizing picture of a canceled Cannes. Two films by â€œ12 Years a Slaveâ€ filmmaker Steve McQueen – â€œMangroveâ€ and â€œLover’s Rockâ€ – had been headed to Cannes, said festival director Thierry Fremaux, as was Wes Anderson’s â€œThe French Dispatchâ€ and Pete Docter’s Pixar film â€œSoul.â€
Fremaux announced 56 movies that were selected from a record 2,067 submissions that poured in despite the health crisis. â€œI can see that film is alive and kicking,â€ said Fremaux, sitting on the stage of the UGC Normandie cinema in Paris alongside president Pierre Lescure.
The selection announcement, usually made in an April press conference before teaming throngs of international journalists, was instead presented during a TV interview that aired on Canal Plus. Lescure noted the unprecedented situation had some upside: It was much quieter and Fremaux didn’t have to fend off questions from various nations whose films were overlooked.
Fremaux didn’t distinguish between which films had been slated for its main selection, in which some 20-25 films compete for the Palme d’Or, the Un Certain Regard sidebar or out-of-competition premieres. Some films, he noted, opted to wait until next year’s Cannes.
The announced selection included 16 films directed by women, an increase of two from 2019. Cannes, where only one female filmmaker (Jane Campion) has ever won the Palme, has often come under criticism for not selecting more movies directed by women.
Spike Lee, whose previous film â€œBlacKKKlansmanâ€ premiered at Cannes, had been set to preside over the jury that would select Cannes’ top prize. Last year, it went to Bong Joon Ho’s â€œParasite,” which went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards.
â€œThis time, everyone will be able to give his or her own Palme d’Or,â€ Fremaux said.
Also among the selections: Francois Ozon’s â€œSummer of â€˜85″; Naomi Kawaseâ€™s â€œTrue Mothersâ€; Hong Sang-soo’s â€œHeavenâ€; Thomas Vinterbergâ€™s â€œAnother Roundâ€; MaÃ¯wenn’s â€œDNAâ€; and Sang-ho Yeon’s â€œPeninsula.”
The films will be able to brand themselves as part of the official 2020 Cannes Film Festival selection. If accepted elsewhere, the films can still have their premieres at other fall festivals – should they happen – like those in Toronto, Telluride, New York and San Sebastian. The Cannes label will be particularly helpful for films from lesser-known filmmakers; 15 of the films announced Wednesday were directorial debuts.
â€œWe will support them,â€ said Fremaux. â€œTheir names are on the map now.â€
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP