The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and the filmmakers that make up this year’s lineup are relative newcomers on the Croisette, especially when compared to the veterans who dominated last year including Olivier Assayas, Jim Jarmusch, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Xavier Dolan, Pedro Almodóvar and Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach. Most of this year’s crop of auteurs are only showing their second, third or fourth film in competition.
A filmmaker’s history at Cannes can give us some insight as to whether they might be favored to take home the coveted Palme d’Or. However, only one entry at this year’s festival is by a previous winner of this top prize: Michael Haneke. He is one of seven helmers to claim it twice (“The White Ribbon” in 2009 and “Amour” in 2012) joining:
Francis Ford Coppola – “The Conversation” (1974) and “Apocalypse Now” (1979; tied with “The Tin Drum”);
Bille August – “Pelle the Conqueror” (1988) and “The Best Intentions” (1992);
Emir Kusturica – “When Father Was Away on Business” (1985) and “Underground” (1995);
Shohei Imamura – “The Ballad of Narayama” (1983) and “The Eel” (1997; tied with “Taste of Cherry”)
Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne – “Rosetta” (1999) and “The Child” (2005); and
Ken Loach – “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (2006) and “I, Daniel Blake” (2016)
Below, a breakdown of the 20 directors in competition and their history at the festival.
Fatih Akin (“In the Fade”)
This film about a woman (Diane Kruger) seeking revenge after her husband and son are killed by an explosion is only Akin’s second competing feature. His first film at the festival was “The Edge of Heaven” in 2007. The film won the Best Screenplay prize that year and was Germany’s official entry for the 80th Academy Awards.
Noah Baumbach (“The Meyerowitz Stories”)
While Baumbach has made several feature films, this one about siblings dealing with their aging father marks his first to compete at Cannes. It stars Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. He did co-write “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” which screened out of competition in 2012.
Robin Campillo (“120 Beats per Minute”)
This is the Moroccan-French director’s third film and his first to screen at Cannes. It centers around Act-Up Paris’s efforts to confront the indifference towards AIDS in early-1990’s France. But Campillo is no stranger to Cannes as he was a co-writer of the 2008 Palme d’Or winner, “The Class,” alongside François Bégaudeau and director Laurent Cantet.
Sofia Coppola (“The Beguiled”)
Coppola may already be an Oscar winner (Best Original Screenplay for “Lost in Translation” in 2003) but this is only her second film to screen at the festival. Her first one was “Marie Antoinette” in 2006 with Kirsten Dunst. She’s looking for her first award with this film about the sexual tension that arises at a female boarding school that takes in an injured enemy soldier during the Civil War. It stars Dunst, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Jacques Doillon (“Rodin”)
Doillon makes his third entry in the main competition with this biopic about the famous French sculptor, portrayed by Vincent Lindon. He first came to Cannes in 1979 with “The Hussy” and won the Young Cinema Award. He was last in competition in 1984 with “La Pirate.”
Michael Haneke (“Happy End”)
Of all of this year’s directors, the Austrian born Haneke is the biggest veteran of the French festival. This drama about a well-to-do family dealing with the European migrant crisis stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant. He first came to the festival 20 years ago with “Funny Games” in 1997 and returned in 2000 with “Code Unknown.” In 2001 his film, “The Piano Teacher,” was a big winner that year, taking the Grand Prix, Best Actor (Benoit Magmiel) and Best Actress (Huppert). In 2005 he won Best Director for “Caché.” His last two entries both won the Palme d’Or: “The White Ribbon” in 2009 (with Huppert serving as jury president) and “Amour” in 2012. The former was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the latter won the category. “Amour” also scored nods for Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay and Actress for Emmanuelle Riva.
Todd Haynes (“Wonderstruck”)
This drama about two children from different time periods is Haynes third film to compete. His first was in 1998 with “Velvet Goldmine,” which scored a prize for Best Artistic Contribution. His second didn’t come until 2015 with “Carol” which scored the Best Actress prize for Rooney Mara (tied with Emmanuelle Bercot for “My King). Mara would go on to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and the film scored five other nods including Best Actress for Cate Blanchett.
Michel Hazanavicius (“Le Redoubtable”)
The French filmmaker celebrates his third film to compete in the main competition which centers around the real life romance between director Jean-Luc Godard and actress Anne Wiazemsky. His first film at Cannes was “The Artist” in 2011 which won Best Actor for Jean Dujardin. Not only did Dujardin go on to win the Oscar for Best Actor, but the film picked up four other trophies including Picture, Directing, Costume Design and Original Score. He was last at the festival in 2014 with “The Search.”
Bong Joon-ho (“Okja”)
The celebrated Korean director marks his first appearance in competition with this film about a girl searching to reclaim her animal friend that’s been taken to be used by a multinational corporation. It stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano. He has twice competed in the Un Certain Regard selection: “Tokyo!” (with Michel Gondry and Leos Carax) in 2008 and “Mother” in 2009.
Naomi Kawase (“Radiance”)
The Japanese filmmaker returns to the official competition for the fifth time with a story about the romance between a writer and a photographer who is slowly going blind. Her first film at Cannes was outside the official competition but did win the Camera d’Or for the best debut film. She made her first appearance in the regular competition with “Shara” in 2003. Her showing, “The Mourning Forest,” took the Grand Prix in 2007. She also competed with “Hanezu” in 2011 and “Still the Water” in 2014. She was last at the festival in 2015 with “Sweet Bean” which played in the Un Certain Regard section.
Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”)
This is only the second film that the Greek director has had in the main competition. It stars Colin Farrell as a doctor who gets in a disastrous friendship with a young man. In 2015 his offbeat comedy, “The Lobster,” received the Jury Prize and would go on to score an Oscar nod for Original Screenplay. Prior to that, in 2009 his film “Dogtooth” was in the Un Certain Regard section where it won the top prize for that selection and later scored an Oscar nod for Foreign Language Film.
Sergey Loznitsa (“A Gentle Creature”)
This is the Russian filmmaker’s third film in competition which centers on a woman traveling to a prison to get information regarding her incarcerated husband. His debut feature, “My Joy,” screened at Cannes in 2010 and he returned in 2012 with “In the Fog.”
Kornél Mundruczó (“Jupiter’s Moon”)
The Hungarian director’s third film in competition is a modern science fiction story about an immigrant who gains mysterious powers after he’s shot while attempting to cross the border. He first competed in the main races in 2008 with “Delta” and did so again in 2010 with “Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project.” He’s also had two films screen in the Un Certain Regard: “Johanna” in 2005 and “White God” in 2014 which won the top prize.
Ruben Östlund (“The Square”)
The Swedish filmmaker makes his first entry in the main competition with the story of an art museum curator who faces a crisis during a new exhibition he’s set up starring Dominic West and Elisabeth Moss. He made a big splash at the 2014 festival with “Force Majeure” which won the Jury Prize for the Un Certain Regard section. He also competed in that section in 2008 with “Involuntary.”
François Ozon (“L’amant Double”)
Ozon has been making films for over 20 years but this is only his third film in the main competition. The film is about a woman who falls in love with her psychiatrist who is hiding part of his identity from her. His first film at Cannes was “Swimming Pool” starring Charlotte Rampling and he returned to the main competition 10 years later with “Young & Beautiful.” Another of his films, “Time to Leave,” screened in the Un Certain Regard section in 2005.
Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”)
The Scottish filmmaker is making her second appearance in competition with this film about an enforcer searching for a missing teenage girl staring Joaquin Phoenix. Ramsay’s first film in competition was “We Need to Talk About Kevin” with Tilda Swinton in 2011. Prior to that she had won the Short Film Jury Prize twice: “Small Deaths” in 1996 and “Gasman” in 1998.
Hong Sang-soo (“The Day After”)
The Korean director’s fourth go around in the main competition centers on a woman starting work at a publishing company and her boss who recently split from his wife. Sang-soo was in the main competition in 2004 with “Woman is the Future of Man,” 2005 with “Tale of Cinema” and 2012 with “In Another Country.” He’s also competed in the Un Certain Regard section three times: “Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors” in 2000, “Hahaha” in 2010 (winning the top prize) and “The Day He Arrives” in 2011.
Ben & Joshua Safdie (“Good Time”)
The American brothers are playing in competition for the first time with this insane drama about a man going on dangerous journey to get his brother out of jail. It stars Robert Pattinson and Academy Award nominees Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Their debut feature, “The Pleasures of Being Robbed,” screened in the Director’s Fortnight in 2008.
Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Loveless”)
The Russian auteur is making his third appearance in competition with his drama about a couple going through a divorce when their son disappears. Zvyagintsev first came to Cannes in 2007 with “The Banishment” which won the award for Best Actor for Konstantin Lavronenko. In 2011 he competed in the Un Certain Regard competition with “Elena,” which took home that field’s Special Jury Prize. He returned to the main competition with “Leviathan” in 2014 for which he won the Best Screenplay prize with co-writer Oleg Negin. The film was subsequently nominated for that year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Golden Globe in that category.