As we gear up for the 72nd Festival de Cannes coming up May 14 to 25, 2019, let’s take a look at Canada’s cinematic contenders, from features to shorts, coproductions, and more.
In official competition and making its world premiere is Xavier Dolan’s Matthias et Maxime. The Montreal filmmaker also acts in the movie, about a friendship made complicated after an onscreen kiss. Dolan is no stranger to Cannes, since his 2009 debut, J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) won three Directors’ Fortnight awards. Not only did he sit on the Cannes jury in 2015, his feature It’s Only the End of the World (Juste la fin du monde), won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2016, while Mommy won the Jury Prize in 2014. His other Cannes screenings include 2010’s Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats) and 2012’s Laurence Anyways — both were contenders in the Un Certain Regard section.
And guess what? Those latter two films featured Quebec actress Monia Chokri, who will be competing at Cannes this year with a feature she wrote and directed! Chokri’s directorial debut, La Femme de mon frère (A Brother’s Love) is in Un Certain Regard, and is about a penniless young doctoral student who moves in with her brother. Their strong relationship is put to the test when he falls in love with a new flame.
Also in the running for the Palme d’Or is Quebec producer Serge Noël’s new project, It Must be Heaven (C’est ça le paradis?) This France-Canada-Turkey-Germany coproduction is directed by Elia Suleiman, the acclaimed Palestinian director who won the Cannes 2002 Jury Prize for Divine Intervention. Serge Noël is also returning to Cannes; in 2015, Fatima, the France-Canada coprod on which he was a producer, was in its Directors’ Fortnight.
Moving along to the 51st annual Directors’ Fortnight (the independent section organized by the French Directors’ Guild taking place May 15 to 25, 2019) is To Live To Sing; Canadian director Johnny Ma’s second feature film also has Canadian producers Matt Drake and Amanda Verhagen attached to it. This China-France-Canada coproduction comes after Ma’s debut feature Old Stone that premiered in Berlin’s Forum in 2016.
Also in Directors’ Fortnight is Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse. While not ‘officially Canadian,’ let’s give a special shout out to this film that was shot in Nova Scotia and stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
Last but not least, at the 58th annual Semaine de la critique, which happens May 15 to 23, 2019, Canada’s got a special screening of a sci-fi short (not in competition). Toronto-based Brandon Cronenberg is back in Cannes (after his debut-feature Antiviral in Un Certain regard in 2012), with Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You, about a psychiatric patient who relives her dreams through an implant.