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Coppola and Trump biopic lead star-packed Cannes film fest

By AFP

May 7, 2024 02:03 PM


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Francis Ford Coppola is the headline act at a Cannes Film Festival full of Hollywood legends next week, though a biopic of Donald Trump from an Iranian director could grab even more attention.

Hollywood stars of a certain age -- Kevin Costner, Demi Moore and Richard Gere -- will be back on the French Cote d'Azur for the film industry's favourite shindig, which runs from May 14 to 25.

And two ageing but beloved franchises are represented, with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas receiving a lifetime achievement award and the latest "Mad Max" installment, "Furiosa", getting its world premiere.

There are plenty of young stars, too, including "Saltburn" alumni Jacob Elordi (co-starring with Gere in Paul Schrader's "Oh, Canada") and Barry Keoghan in the buzzy coming-of-age tale "Bird" by radical British director Andrea Arnold.

They are among the films competing for the Palme d'Or, the festival's top prize, which this year will be awarded by a jury headed by "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig and including actors Omar Sy ("Lupin") and Lily Gladstone ("Killers of the Flower Moon").

Two films in the competition are particularly eye-catching.

"The Apprentice", by Iranian director Ali Abbasi, is a biopic of Trump's formative years starring 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, with pop superstar Selena Gomez in a supporting role and directed by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard, a former Palme d'Or winner.

- Coppola's gamble -

But the hot ticket is undoubtedly Coppola's "Megalopolis" -- a project that "The Godfather" director has been contemplating for some 40 years and which began initial production as long ago as 2001.

A Roman epic set in modern-day New York, it stars Adam Driver as a visionary architect seeking to rebuild the crumbling city. An enigmatic teaser clip shows him clambering on a roof and stopping time.

Coppola, who self-funded the $120 million project, appears unafraid of over-hyping it. In a statement to Vanity Fair, he gave a list of 40-plus influences that included Voltaire, Plato, Shakespeare, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, "Moses, and the prophets all thrown in".

There is palpable tension about 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".

Elsewhere, Emma Stone reunites with director Yorgos Lanthimos, fresh from their Oscar triumph with "Poor Things", for "Kinds of Kindness" -- a trio of bizarro tales also featuring up-and-coming actor Margaret Qualley.

Qualley, daughter of Andie McDowell, has two films in competition, also appearing in Demi Moore's unexpected comeback, slasher horror "The Substance".

- Costner, Cronenberg, Stone -

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", while France continues its bid to create its own blockbusters with a glossy new version of "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Chinese fans are excited for the premiere of "She's Got No Name" starring one of their biggest stars, Ziyi Zhang. Billed as the country's most expensive production of the year, it tackles the sensitive topic of women's rights in China.

Other political selections include "The Invasion" by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa, and "The Seed of the Sacred Fig" by Iran's Mohammad Rasoulof.

Rasoulof has been jailed in the past for criticising the government and is under pressure to withdraw from Cannes, according to his lawyer.

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.

One possible spoiler, however, is hanging over the proceedings. Around 100 workers at the festival, including projectionists and ticket-sellers have called for a strike over pay and conditions. They say it will not put the event at risk, but could cause disruptions.


AFP


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