Indiana Jones among elder statesmen set to descend on Cannes
Martin Scorsese and Ken Loach – as well as a record-breaking number of female directors – have new films premiering at film festival, which starts next week
Indiana Jones is not the only octogenarian swinging triumphantly back to Cannes this year – though thanks to de-ageing technology, he may be the most fresh-faced.
Harrison Ford’s archeologist takes the coveted “blockbuster spot” in the 2023 edition of the festival, which begins on Tuesday. Last year that honour went to another returning hero: Tom Cruise, with Top Gun: Maverick, which went on to dominate the box office and score multiple Oscar nominations.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a fifth and final outing for the character, who comes out of retirement to help goddaughter Phoebe Waller-Bridge track down an ancient treasure that could otherwise be used by nefarious Nazis to reset the outcome of the second world war.
The trailer shows Ford, now 80, outpacing a subway train on a horse, driving a tuk-tuk off a cliff, leaping from planes and hanging off cliffs – sometimes with wrinkles digitally smoothed to restore him to his 30-year-old self.
The competition lineup is dominated by a similar demographic – though they tend to be behind the camera. The most eagerly anticipated premiere is Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese’s true crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone, about a series of murders of Native Americans in the 1920s.
Scorsese, 80, will face off against Ken Loach, 86, whose latest film, The Old Oak, unfolds in a former mining town in north-east England, where the landlord of the last remaining pub strikes up a friendship with some of the Syrian refugees recently homed in the area.
Other contenders for the Palme d’Or this year include Croisette favourites Wim Wenders, 77, Nanni Moretti, 69, Aki Kaurismäki, 66, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 64, and Hirokazu Kore-eda, 60.
Todd Haynes, 62, whose Carol wowed audiences in 2015, presents May December, in which Natalie Portman quizzes Julianne Moore about her marriage to a much younger man, while Jonathan Glazer, 58, is back with his first feature since 2013’s Under the Skin: an adaptation of Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest, about an affair between a Nazi officer and the wife of the commandant of Auschwitz.
Following criticism over poor representation for female directors, this year Cannes debuts an unprecedented number of films in competition directed by women. One of the six is Jeanne du Barry, the opening night film, directed by and starring Maïwenn as the maîtresse-en-titre executed in 1793 during the French Revolution, and co-starring Johnny Depp as Louis XV.
Such a prominent platform for the film raised eyebrows because of Depp’s recent court cases – and because a complaint of assault was recently brought against Maïwenn by Edwy Plenel, the editor of a French investigative magazine, who alleged she attacked him in a Paris restaurant.
Both issues were dismissed by Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux, who said Jeanne du Barry was not “a controversial choice” as their opener, adding: “If Johnny Depp had been banned from working it would have been different but that’s not the case. We only know one thing, it’s the justice system and I think he won the legal case.”
Depp emerged largely victorious from a trial between himself and his former wife Amber Heard, in which both made allegations of defamation against the other. At the conclusion of the trial, Depp was successful on three counts and awarded more than $10m in damages, while Heard was successful on one, and awarded $2m.
In 2020, Depp lost a case he brought against News Group Newspapers Ltd, which he sued for suggesting that he assaulted Heard. Earlier this week, Depp’s reputation appeared further rehabilitated after it was announced Al Pacino had signed on to star in a biopic of the artist Modigliani, which Depp is directing.
The 76th Cannes film festival runs between 16 and 27 May.
Three women to watch at Cannes
The Old Oak calls time on one career and toasts the start of another. Veteran director Ken Loach claims it’s the last film that he’ll make, whereas for 25-year-old Ebla Mari – a theatre teacher from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – it’s a glorious springboard or a bizarre adventure. Either would be fine. “I don’t see my career as a straight line,” she says. “Making the film has been the most amazing thing. But now I’m back to being a theatre teacher and I love it. So I’m OK with whatever happens next in my life.”
Ebla Mari: ‘I’m OK with whatever happens next.’
Loach’s drama centres on a failing County Durham pub that becomes a hub for Syrian refugees. Mari co-stars as Yara, the unofficial ambassador for a displaced and desperate community, although she is at pains to point out that her own background is different. “I was the only actor in the cast,” she says. “And I felt very guilty because I’m not a refugee – I’m more privileged than that. I’ve never been to Syria. I have family there I’ve never seen. The Golan Heights is occupied, but at least I have a homeland.”
Visa issues delayed her arrival on set by two weeks. She’s still waiting for word that she can attend The Old Oak’s Cannes premiere. Mari half hopes it won’t happen. “I mean, I think it will be strange. I’m not very glamorous. I’m a shy person. I have braces on my teeth and I had a fall a few months ago and am still limping a bit.” She laughs. “I’m not going to look good walking up the red carpet.” Xan Brooks
Molly Manning Walker, 29, cut her teeth as a cinematographer as well as working on high-profile adverts (Dior, Nike, NHS, Gucci with Harry Styles) and music videos (A$AP Rocky, FKA twigs). She’s made three shorts but, although one was selected at Cannes in 2020, the pandemic meant she has “never actually seen a film I’ve made with an audience”.
Manning Walker’s debut feature, How to Have Sex, premieres in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. It’s the story of three teenage girls on a week’s hedonistic summer holiday in a cheap resort in Crete. The film’s plot, as well as the buzz that’s built around it, have led many to bill its director as “the next Charlotte Wells”; Wells’s debut, Aftersun, premiered in the same position at Cannes last year.
The comparison is flattering, says Manning Walker, but also “quite upsetting. There’s a lot of film-makers that get bracketed together and I wonder if that would happen to men. It feels like you can only have one young female successful director.”
Manning Walker’s film is unafraid of confrontation: a woozily lucid look at consent and assault among young people. Cinematically it was inspired by Andrea Arnold’s American Honey; thematically by her own experiences. “I was assaulted when I was 16,” she says, “and I’ve always wanted to talk about it and it’s always sucked the air out of the room. But how do we stop this from happening to other people when we can’t talk about it?” Catherine Shoard
The first Malaysian woman with a film at Cannes, 37-year-old Amanda Nell Eu’s debut is an original, ferocious and sometimes very funny fairytale called Tiger Stripes. Set in a small rural community, it focuses on 12-year-old Zaffan, who is the first of her friends to hit puberty – and changes in a more dramatic way than most.
Inspired by Mean Girls, as well as Japanese 70s comedy-horror Hausu and big-cat themed Malaysian folklore, Tiger Stripes is being shown in the Critics’ Week sidebar – as was Julia Ducournau’s body-horror Raw back in 2016. (Ducournau won the Palme d’Or five years later for Titane).
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Eu spent her teenage and university years in the UK before returning to Malaysia aged 27 – which, she says, made her feel an outsider in both countries. Tiger Stripes taps into this identity crisis as well as exploring a “fear of the female body” that Eu feels is on the increase around the world. “Women still sometimes feel like they don’t own their own bodies, and that’s really something I wanted to talk about.” CS