Sparks musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard to open Cannes film festival

Written by Ron and Russell Mael and set in Los Angeles, Annette is the first English-language film by Holy Motors director Leos Carax

The rescheduled 2021 edition of the Cannes film festival has picked Annette, a new film from Holy Motors director Leos Carax and starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, for its high-profile opening slot.

The musical, written by Sparks duo Ron and Russell Mael, is described by the festival as “the story of Henry, a standup comedian with a fierce sense of humour, and Ann, a singer of international renown … They are the perfect couple, healthy, happy, and glamorous. The birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious girl with an exceptional destiny, will change their lives.” It is Carax’s first English-language film and is set in Los Angeles.

The film will screen in Cannes on 6 July, after the festival’s opening ceremony, and will simultaneously go on general release in France. Holy Motors, Carax’s last film, screened in competition in 2012.

In January, the festival announced that its public event would be moved from its traditional mid-May date to July, after its initial plans were derailed by Covid regulations. The organisers intend to hold in-person screenings; however, cinemas in France are closed as part of a national lockdown that began on 3 April. The Cannes film market, normally held at the same time as the festival, will go ahead as a virtual event in May.

The 2020 edition of the festival shelved its “physical” screening programme, replacing it instead with a selection of more than 50 films, including period fossil-hunter romance Ammonite, afterlife animation Soul and ski-competition sex-abuse drama Slalom.

The festival said the rest of the selection will be announced in May. However, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux has confirmed that two films from the 2020 list – Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, about the Paris office of an American newspaper, and Benedetta, Paul Verhoeven’s film about the real-life 17th-century lesbian nun and mystic – will be included in the 2021 lineup. Spike Lee, who was due to be jury president in 2020, will return to perform the same duties this year.

The Cannes film festival is due to run 6-17 July.


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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