UPDATE: After savvy fest-watchers pointed out an error in today’s Cannes Film Festival announcement that Emmanuelle Bercot’s opener this year, La Tête Haute, marked the first time a female director has been selected to start the event, organizers tweeted a mea culpa. French helmer Diane Kurys previously had opening night duties in 1987 with Un Homme Amoureux:
Despite the gaffe, it is nevertheless notable that La Tête Haute has been chosen as the curtain raiser. As I earlier noted below, it’s not very often that a wholly French movie has been selected since the start of the millennium. The festival also has been subject to some criticism over the predominance of male directors included in the lineup over the past years. Last month, it announced a partnership with luxury and sport brand group Kering to launch the first Women in Motion program at this year’s event in May. Plus ça change… plus ça change?
PREVIOUS: For the first time in the long history of the Cannes Film Festival, a female director will open the proceedings. Emmanuelle Bercot’a La Tête Haute will screen on Wednesday, May 13. Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, Sara Forestier and Rod Paradot star. Cannes has been very light with details of this upcoming 68th edition, with only a handful of certainties including the out-of-competition special screening of Max Max: Fury Road on May 14. La Tête Haute is the latest piece of the puzzle, which will be filled out in much more detail on Thursday when Thierry Frémaux and incoming festival president Pierre Lescure unveil the majority of the Official Selection in Paris. At that same time, I’m told, it will be announced whether La Tête Haute is in or out of competition.
La Tête Haute tells the story of a juvenile delinquent, Malony, and his upbringing from childhood to adulthood as a children’s judge and social worker try to save him.
Cannes often has gone with a splashy premiere to open the fest, and often a U.S. film. Last year’s kickoff was handled by Grace Of Monaco with Nicole Kidman, the year prior Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby started the event. Other recent Opening Night titles have included Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Pixar’s Up. The last time a French movie had the honors was all the way back in 2003 with Fanfan La Tulipe.
“The choice of this film may seem surprising, given the rules generally applied to the Festival de Cannes Opening Ceremony,” Frémaux said today. “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 focusses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes.”
Bercot first had a film in Cannes in 1997, when her short, Les Vacances, received the Jury Prize. In 1999, she earned a Cinéfondation Prize for La Puce, and in 2001, her first feature film, Clement, in which she played the main character, ran in Un Certain Regard. Her most recent success was with Elle S’En Va, also starring Deneuve. Bercot’s other credits include co-writing the script for Maïwenn’s Polisse, which won the Jury Prize in Cannes in 2011.
Bercot co-wrote La Tête Haute with Marcia Romano. Les Films du Kiosque is producer with co-producers France 2 Cinéma, Wild Bunch, Rhône-Alpes Cinema and Pictanovo with the participation of Nord-Pas de Calais Region. Elle Driver is handling sales. Wild Bunch has French distribution and releases simultaneously in France on May 13.
The festival said in March that it is partnering with luxury and sport brand group Kering to launch the first Women in Motion program at this year’s event in Mayt The aim is to “celebrate the talent of women in cinema and encourage reflection on their contribution to and role in the film industry,” Kering said.
Cannes runs from May 13-24 with Joel and Ethan Coen as presidents of the jury.