What movies are playing at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival?

It’s been a while, but for the first time since 2019, the Cannes Film Festival is officially happening on the Croisette. After being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (though some films, such as Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” which would have screened at Cannes had it happened, were afforded a designation from the prestigious event), the 2021 Cannes Film Festival is happening right now on the French Riviera with a full slate of international features. Here’s everything to know about this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including the full lineup.

What movies are playing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival?

The 2021 lineup at the Cannes Film Festival features new films from Wes Anderson, Sean Baker, Sean Penn, Leo Carax, and Tom McCarthy. But despite the usual vast pedigree of talent at Cannes, awards attention for the films that launch there is uncertain. Only twice have Palme d’Or winners subsequently won Best Picture at the Oscars (1955’s “Marty” and 2019’s “Parasite”) — although that data point could be rendered moot by the coronavirus pandemic. The Cannes Film Festival normally takes place in May, but this year’s event was delayed until July. That tweak pushes the festival debuts further down the calendar and places the 2021 films into what’s an already truncated Oscar season. The 2022 Oscars will only consider movies released from March 1 through December 31 because of last year’s eligibility tweaks.

So what does that mean? Fans of Anderson (who is set to debut his first live-action film since “The Grand Budapest Hotel” received nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture) and McCarthy (the director of “Spotlight,” whose new film with Matt Damon is screening out-of-competition) shouldn’t be discouraged about their awards prospects sight unseen.

Here’s the full list of Cannes Film Festival premieres in 2021.


Annette, dir: Leos Carax (opening night film)

Flag Day, dir: Sean Penn

Tout S’est Bien Passé, dir: François Ozon

A Hero, dir: Asghar Farhadi

Tre Piani, dir: Nanni Moretti

Titane, dir: Julia Ducournau

The French Dispatch, dir: Wes Anderson

Red Rocket, dir: Sean Baker

Petrov’s Flu, dir: Kirill Serebrennikov

France, dir: Bruno Dumont

Nitram, dir: Justin Kurzel

Memoria, dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Les Olympiades, dir: Jacques Audiard

Benedetta, dir: Paul Verhoeven

La Fracture, dir: Catherine Corsini

The Restless, dir: Joachim Lafosse

Lingui, dir: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

The Worst Person In The World, dir: Joachim Trier

Bergman Island, dir: Mia Hansen-Love

Drive My Car, dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Ahed’s Knee, dir: Nadav Lapid

Casablanca Beats, dir: Nabil Ayouch

Compartment No. 6, dir: Juho Kuosmanen

The Story Of My Wife, dir: Ildiko Enyedi


De Son Vivant, dir: Emmanuelle Bercot

Stillwater, dir: Tom McCarthy

The Velvet Underground, dir: Todd Haynes

Bac Nord, dir: Cédric Jiminez

Aline, dir: Valérie Lemercier

Emergency Declaration, dir: Han Jae-Rim


Bloody Oranges, dir: Jean-Christophe Meurisse


Evolution, dir: Kornel Mundruczo

Cow, dir: Andrea Arnold

Mothering Sunday, dir: Eva Husson

Love Songs For Tough Guys, dir: Samuel Benchetrit

In Front Of Your Face, dir: Hong Sang-soo

Hold Me Tight, dir: Mathieu Amalric

Deception, dir: Arnaud Desplechin

Val, dirs: Ting Poo, Leo Scott

JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass, dir: Oliver Stone

*Jane By Charlotte, dir: Charlotte Gainsbourg


*H6, dir: Yi Yi

Black Notebooks, dir: Shlomi Elkabetz

Mariner Of The Mountains, dir: Karim Ainouz

Babi Yar. Context, dir: Sergei Loznitsa

The Year Of The Everlasting Storm; dirs: Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, Laura Poitras, Dominga Sotomayor, David Lowery, Apichatpong Weerasethakul


The Innocents, dir: Eskil Vogt

After Yang, dir: Kogonada

Delo, dir: Alexey German Jr

Bonne Mere, dir: Hafsia Herzi

Noche De Fuego, dir: Tatiana Huezo

*Lamb, dir: Vladimar Johansson

*Un Monde, dir: Laura Wandel

*Freda, dir: Gessica Généus

*Moneyboys, dir: CB Yi

Blue Bayou, dir: Justin Chon

Commitment Hasan, dir: Hasan Semih Kaplanoglu

Rehana Maryam Noor, dir: Abdullah Mohammad Saad

Let There Be Morning, dir: Eran Kolirin

Unclenching The Fists, dir: Kira Kovalenko

*La Civil, dir: Ana Mihai

Women Do Cry, dirs: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova

*Denotes first film, eligible for the Camera d’Or

What makes the Cannes Film Festival so special?

Launched in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has long found itself as an early year destination for cineasts and international filmmakers. As Brittanica points out, the Cannes marketplace is also a shining beacon for the event. “Like other film festivals, it became an international marketplace where producers and distributors could exchange ideas, view films, and sign contracts,” reads the site. “The phenomenon of international coproduction arose at Cannes in the late 1940s.”

According to the Cannes Film Festival website, the event retains its great importance because, “the Festival de Cannes has remained faithful to its founding purpose: to draw attention to and raise the profile of films, with the aim of contributing towards the development of cinema, boosting the film industry worldwide and celebrating cinema at an international level.”

Now, even with enhanced COVID-19 protections and contentious salvia tests for patrons, the Cannes Film Festival is still a key destination for the entertainment industry and those who cover its moves. This is to say nothing of the famously persnickety Cannes crowd, which can either boisterously praise a film after its debut with a lengthy standing ovation or drown out its credits in loud boos.

Can I watch the Cannes Film Festival online?

While the movies will not stream online during the festival, Cannes promises 12 days of live online coverage of premieres, press conferences, and more via its website.

What should I wear to the Cannes Film Festival?

According to the website Cannes Guide, the daylight dress code is “fairly informal” and patrons can get away with wearing business casual clothes or even shorts and a T-shirt, provided shoes or sandals are worn as footwear. “Don’t wear flip-flops as some of the humorless security goons have been known to take issue with these,” the site reads. At night and for lavish premiere events, black-tie attire is often a requirement.

When does the Cannes Film Festival end?

The Cannes Film Festival begins Tuesday, July 6, 2021, and ends Saturday, July 17, 2021.

What’s the best movie at the Cannes Film Festival this year?

It’s unclear as of this writing which film will win the 2021 Palme D’Or, but strong titles in the lineup include “The French Dispatch,” Anderson’s film about a New Yorker-like magazine that stars his usual cadre of actors including Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, and Owen Wilson, and “Annette,” Carax’s musical with music from the band Sparks and lead roles for Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

Are Netflix movies allowed at the Cannes Film Festival?

Netflix has skipped the Cannes Film Festival for the last three years on account of a rule about theatrical exhibition in France that Cannes added in 2018, and the streaming giant’s relationship with Cannes organizers continues to be a bit frosty. 

“The only thing is that we have a rule, namely, films in competitions have to be released in French movie theatres,” Thierry Frémaux, Cannes artistic director, said this week. “It’s not a very difficult rule to abide by. But Netflix does not want to abide by that rule, it doesn’t want to come out of competition – I invited them – and we talk a lot together as friends. I hope I’ll convince them one day.”

But back in 2018, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos did not anticipate changing his company’s release plans to suit Cannes. “We hope that they do change the rules. We hope that they modernize,” he said to Variety back then. “But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine.”

Speaking this week, however, Frémaux made sure to connect Netflix to the past as well. “The work is outstanding,” he said of Netflix, citing “The Irishman” and “Mank” among other major Netflix debuts. “Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber, they’re people who started their career in the cinema, and obviously Netflix has gained a huge foothold because they engage people who work in the cinema.”

But while Netflix has built up its film roster on the work of Martin Scorsese and David Fincher, Frémaux posited that streaming services have yet to launch a prestigious directorial career. “What directors have been discovered by [streaming] platforms?” he said. “I was asking one question: give me a name of a director discovered by some platforms?” When the press could not, Frémaux agreed. 

“I’m saying that because we – the Cannes Film Festival, the other festivals – our mission is to discover, is to put new names on the maps,” he added. “And it’s what we do. So I’m not sure that even Netflix or whoever, they can skip the Cannes Film Festival.” And once again, they will.

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