The Cannes Film Festival, perhaps the most tony and distinctive film festival in the world, runs this year from May 13-24, and yet there have been very few announcements about the 2015 roster so far. One piece of the puzzle was revealed today as the French title La Tête Haute, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot (On My Way) and starring screen legend Catherine Deneuve, has been selected to open the 68th Cannes Film Festival. It marks just the second time in Cannes history a feature directed by a woman has been chosen to open the festival – the first instance being Diane Kurys’ A Man in Love in 1987.
The choice of La Tête Haute may be partially due to the fact that the Cannes Film Festival has in recent years been under the critical microscope for the lack of female filmmakers invited to the festival to participate in competition, though it hasn’t been confirmed it yet if La Tête Haute will premiere in competition. It’s also a departure from recent glitzy (and predominately American) premieres that have served as the opening night title, which have included Midnight in Paris (2011), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013), and last years’ ill-fated Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace of Monaco. Bercot, a director and actress, has previous Cannes experience however – she won the Award of the Youth Prize at the 2001 festival for the film Clément, a movie which she directed and starred in; she also won a Jury Prize for her 2007 short film Les Vacances.
The film revolves around a juvenile delinquent named Malony and his struggles from childhood to adulthood. Deneuve (who also starred in Bercot’s 2013 feature On My Way) portrays a judge who tries to help him out. Sara Forestier (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) and Benoît Magimel (winner of the 2001 Cannes Best Actor prize for Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher) co-star. Bercot wrote the screenplay with Marcia Romano (Under the Sand). “The choice of this film may seem surprising, given the rules generally applied to the Festival de Cannes Opening Ceremony,” Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux said. “It is a clear reflection of our desire to see the Festival start with a different piece, which is both bold and moving. Emmanuelle Bercot’s film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focuses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes.”
This marks the second major 2015 Cannes announcement – it it was previously announced that George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road will screen out of competition. The majority of the festival line-up is expected to be announced this Thursday in Paris. Filmmakers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen will serve as presidents of the jury for the competition slate this year, while actress Isabella Rossellini will serve as president for the Un Certain Regard sidebar.