Here is Chaz Ebert's first video dispatch from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, followed by a transcript of the video...
With our 20th annual Ebertfest now in the rearview mirror, we are gearing up for the world’s biggest film festival inching its way ever-closer on the horizon. The 71st Cannes Film Festival runs from Tuesday, May 8th, through Saturday, May 19th, and I’ll be returning once again for two more weeks in the midday sun to cover all the highlights.
As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to raise awareness about the gender inequality and culture of sexual harassment plaguing the industry, Cannes has chosen to select a woman as its jury president, two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett. She is only the tenth woman to be assigned this coveted role in the festival’s history, a fact that dismayed the festival’s first-ever female jury president, Olivia de Havilland. In a recent interview with Variety, the 101-year-old screen icon recalled her experience on the 1965 jury, saying that she “enjoyed presiding over a committee entirely composed of men.”
Thankfully, Blanchett will be accompanied by several more extraordinary women on this year’s jury, including Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, our guest at this year’s Ebertfest, who received one of the festival’s largest ovations for her stunning documentary, “13th.” Also, French actress Léa Seydoux, a recipient of the Palme d’Or for “Blue Is the Warmest Color”; Kristen Stewart, the first American actress to win the Cesar Award, France’s equivalent for the Oscar; Khadja Nin, a Burundian singer-songwriter and composer who collaborated with Jeanne Moreau; and rounding out the rest of the jury this year are Chinese actor Chang Chen, French director Robert Guédiguian, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev.
Opening the festival this year is “Everybody Knows,” the latest work from two-time Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. This is the latest picture to pair real-life couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, who are also playing a married couple onscreen. In the official selection are three films by female directors: Eva Husson’s French drama, “Girls of the Sun,” Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki’s politically charged “Capernaum” and Italian auteur Alice Rohrwacher’s follow-up to “The Wonders,” “Happy as Lazzaro.” Competing alongside them are such notable talents as Spike Lee, whose new comedy, “BlacKkKlansman,” tells the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrates the KKK; Jean-Luc Godard, here with “The Picture Book”; and Pawel Pawlikowski, whose Oscar-winning “Ida” played at Ebertfest, and whose latest film, “Cold War,” centers on a mismatched romance.
And there is also festival intrigue this year. The day before opening night, there will be an urgent hearing regarding whether Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited fantasy, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” will be allowed to close this year’s festival because of a legal action by producer Paulo Branco. Only time will tell…
Benicio del Toro will preside over this year’s Un Certain Regard jury. Eight of the eighteen selections in this year’s section were directed by women, four of whom are helming their feature debut.
Midnight screenings of Ramin Bahrani’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston documentary, “Whitney,” have also been scheduled, along with a special screening of Wim Wenders’ documentary, “Pope Francis—A Man of His Word.”
Also screening out of competition this year are Ron Howard’s upcoming summer blockbuster, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” as well as Lars von Trier’s thriller, “The House That Jack Built.”
As you can see, there is so much to look forward to this year, and we can’t wait to take you along with us. Throughout the festival, be sure to check in at RogerEbert.com/Cannes for daily reports by Barbara Scharres, Ben Kenigsberg and others along with our regular video reports. Until then, we’ll see you on the red carpet!