Cannes Film Festival to open 2021 edition with Leos Carax’s Annette

Adham Youssef
6 Min Read

The 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will open on 7 July with Leos Carax’s romantic musical film Annette, featuring  Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

The film, which will also play in competition, is set in contemporary Los Angeles. It tells the story of Henry, a stand-up comedian with a fierce sense of humour, and Ann, a singer of international renown. In the spotlight, they are the perfect couple, healthy, happy, and glamourous. The birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious girl with an exceptional destiny, will change their lives.

Produced by Charles Gillibert, Annette, the director’s sixth feature film, is based on Carax’s original idea, featuring a soundtrack composed by Sparks. It stars Marion Cotillard, Adam Driver, and Simon Helberg.

At Cannes, it will premiere internationally and will enter the Competition, following the opening ceremony at the Grand Théâtre Lumière in Cannes’ Palais des Festivals. It will simultaneously be released in French cinemas.

Visionary and enigmatic, Leos Carax has authored some of the most beautiful moments of French cinema in the last 35 years, with a filmography that has never ceased to display his mastery of directing. A poetic genius with an overflowing imagination, the “l’enfant terrible” of French cinema has consistently transcended film codes and genres to create a world full of visions and ghosts.

At the age of 24, Carax began a trilogy from which urban and nocturnal beauty emanated in a magical Paris. Shot in black-and-white, Boy Meets Girl (1984) paid tribute to silent films, to Cocteau’s universe, and Godard’s cinema.

With Bad Blood (1986), an ode to rhythm and love, starring Denis Lavant, Juliette Binoche, and Michel Piccoli, Carax established his hard-hitting emotional style and with it, finds his first international success. Dominated by an assertive aesthetic universe and lyricism, this expressionist thriller offers a one-of-a-kind visual experience.

In 1991, the director embarked on a most ambitious project, The Lovers on the Bridge. Recreating an entire Parisian neighbourhood and a three-year-long shooting offered this ode to passionate love in a legendary place in French cinema.

After eight years of silence, Pola X (1999) marked Carax’s return to the Cannes Film Festival Competition. Following this adaptation of Melville’s Pierre, or, The Ambiguities he returned to the Croisette with Merde, a short film part of a collective fantasy in three movements, Tokyo!, co-directed by Michel Gondry and Bong Joon-ho and presented at Un Certain Regard in 2008.

Finally, in 2012, Leos Carax returned in competition in Cannes with Holy Motors, a meandering filmic experience that puts magic in reality and everyday life in fantasy. Another declaration of love for cinema, with Edith Scob, escaped from Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face.

“Every Leos Carax film is an event,” said Pierre Lescure, President of the Cannes Film Festival, “And this one delivers on its promises, as ‘Annette’ is the gift that lovers of cinema, music and culture were hoping for, one that we have been yearning for during the past year.”

“We could not have dreamed of a more beautiful reunion with cinema and the silver screen, in the Palais des festivals where films come to assert their splendour”, said Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, “Carax’ cinema is an expression of these powerful gestures, these mysterious alchemies that makes the secret of cinema’s modernity and eternity.”

The film Annette is produced by Charles Gillibert (CG Cinéma International), Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu (Tribus P. Films) and Adam Driver, in association with Amazon Studios, Arte and Canal+. It is distributed in France by UGC, by AMAZON in the USA and sold internationally by KINOLOGY. The film will be released in France on 6 July, on the day of its Cannes’ premiere.

Mindful of the evolution of the public health situation in Europe and across the world, and the reopening of cultural venues mid-May, the Festival continues with confidence and determination the planning of its next edition, it said in a statement.

The Opening Ceremony of the 74th Cannes Film Festival will take place on 6 July 2021, and will be broadcast by Canal+ in France, as well as in partnering cinema theatres.

Chaired by the American film director Spike Lee, the Jury of the Competition will announce the winners at the Closing Ceremony on 17 July, with the Official Selection to be announced at the end of May 2021.

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