The 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will open on May 13 with a French movie, La Tete Haute, by Emmanuelle Bercot. This is the first ever occasion in the history of the festival that a film by a woman director will set the 12-day event rolling on the French Riviera.
Cannes has always been known for its novelty, its ability to spring surprises. Some years ago, the festival began with an animated work in 3D, Up.
This year, the festival has appointed two brothers -- American directors Joel and Ethan Coen -- to jointly chair the main Competition Jury. This is to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Lumiere Cinematograph. Auguste and Louis Lumiere were brothers who are recognised as the first moviemakers. They patented the cinematograph, which, in contrast to Edison's 'peepshow' kinescope, allowed simultaneous viewing by a multiple number of people.
Their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered as the first ever motion picture.
La Tete Haute talks about a juvenile delinquent, Malony, and the efforts of a social worker to try and reform the boy as he travels into adulthood. Rod Paradot will play Malony, along with such celebrated actors as Catherine Deneuve, Benoit Magimel and Sara Forestier.
"The choice of La Tete Haute may seem surprising, given the rules generally applied to the Festival de Cannes' Opening Ceremony," explained General Delegate Thierry Fremaux. "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 movie makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focusses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes."
La Tete Haute will also open in cinemas across France on May 13.
Bercot is also a female actor -- who studied dance and whose talent was discovered by Cannes in 1997. Her short movie, Les Vacances, won the Jury Prize there. In 2001, her first feature, Clement, was part of the A Certain Regard at Cannes. She also acted in this film.
Bercot made several movies since then, including On My Way in 2014; Deneuve's performance in this is rated as one of her best.
The festival's official selection will be announced in Paris on April 16, and the event will end on May 24.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Cannes Film Festival for 25 years.)