Exciting screenings to watch at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

Red seats in a cinema setting

The most important film festival of the year is almost upon us. Running from 6-17 July 2021, the 74th edition of the Festival de Cannes will once again celebrate cinematic creation at an international level, drawing attention to new films and fresh talent, and boosting the film industry worldwide.

Much of this event is reserved for film industry professionals and the press. However, non-industry film buffs can access selected screenings at the Cinéma de la Plage and individuals aged between 18 and 28 can apply to attend Three Days in Cannes.

The Cannes Film Festival official lineup and schedule have now been announced, and we’ve rounded up some screenings that we think are well worth a watch. Let’s begin with seven out of the 24 films striving for the Palme d’Or – the most coveted prize awarded for the best film shown at Cannes.

1. Annette

Competing for the Palme d’Or and also being shown as the opening night film, Annette is a highly anticipated musical by the french film director, Leos Carax. Originally due to premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Annette features a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his famous, opera-singing wife (Marion Cotillard). Their life is overturned when their daughter Annette is born. Here’s a sneak preview.

2. The French Dispatch

Directed by Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch is an eccentric comedy, featuring many acting greats, such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Tilda Swinton. The film is about an American journalist, based in a fictional French city, who creates a magazine and brings to life a collection of stories. Watch this trailer to whet your appetite.

3. Flag Day

Flag Day is an American drama directed by Sean Penn, who also stars in the film alongside his daughter, Dylan Penn. Flag Day is based on Jennifer Vogel’s 2005 memoir, Flim-Flam Man, and tells the story of a young journalist struggling to come to terms with her perceptions of her conman father. MGM has bought North American rights to this film; read more here.

4. Memoria

Memoria is about a woman from Scotland who, while travelling in Colombia, notices unsettling sounds and sights that cause her to question her identity. The film is directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Thai independent filmmaker known for winning the Palme d’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Learn more about Memoria at IMDb.

5. A Hero

The plot around A Hero is being kept closely under wraps until its screening at Cannes. But what we do know is that it’s directed by Asghar Farhadi, twice Oscar-winner for his films, A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016). Billed as a suspenseful drama, this is one of the most eagerly anticipated foreign films of 2021.

6. Red Rocket

Directed by Sean Baker (known for his work on The Florida Project), Red Rocket follows an American hustler, played by Simon Rex, who returns to his hometown of Texas City, where he’s barely tolerated. Read more about this dark, funny and raw film.

7. The Story of My Wife

Our last pick of the nominees for the Palme d’Or is The Story of My Wife, from director Ildikó Enyedi. Based on the novel of the same name by Milan Fust, this film, starring Lea Seydoux, involves a sea captain who makes a bet with a friend in a cafe that he’ll marry the next woman to walk in. Get a feel for this romantic drama via the official trailer.

8. Mothering Sunday

Moving onto a romantic film that’s out of competition and premiering at Cannes: Mothering Sunday – an adaptation of the Graham Swift novel, by Eva Husson. This is the story of Jane (Odessa Young), a maid that gets given the day off by her employers (Colin Firth and Oliva Colman). She spends the day with her secret lover (Josh O’Connor), who is about to be engaged to another woman. The events that unfold on this particular day are the beginning of a significant transformation for Jane. Read more at Digital Spy.

9. Scarecrow

Now for a couple of retro films worth looking out for if you’re lucky enough to be attending the Cinéma de la Plage, which is open to the general public. First up is the 1973 film Scarecrow, which will be shown on 7 July at 9.30pm. A gem in American cinematic history, it won the Palme d’Or in 1973 and stars Gene Hackman and Al Pacino as two men who meet while travelling and who agree to start a car wash business together in Pittsburgh. The film was directed by Jerry Schatzberg (now aged 94), who is attending Cannes and will be presenting the film himself. Watch the trailer.

10. JFK

Often referred to as the world’s greatest conspiracy movie, JFK is a 1991 American political thriller, directed by Oliver Stone. In the film, an attorney, played by Kevin Coster, conducts his own investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which results in backlash from the government and other political figures. JFK will be shown at the Cinéma de la Plage on 11 July at 9.30pm. See a snippet.

Further reading:

Get the official Screenings Guide here to see exactly what’s showing and when, during the twelve days of the festival.

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