Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who grabbed headlines with Drive at 2011 Cannes Film Festival, will return to the annual French festival this year with their latest collaboration, Only God Forgives.

The thriller is part of the Cannes lineup announced Thursday by organizers, with films by the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne, Steven Soderbergh and Roman Polanski also set to screen.

Canadians at Cannes

Saskatoon's Jefferson Moneo has a short film, titled Going South, in the Cannes Cinéfondation program for new filmmakers.

Several other Canadians are planning to travel to Cannes, including some who will participate in a Telefilm-sponsored program to fund or screen Canadian projects.

They include:

  • Chloé Robichaud and Sophie Desmarais of Sarah Prefers the Race
  • Producer Martin Katz, who will announce his upcoming collaboration with David Cronenberg, Maps to the Stars.
  • Producers Kim McCraw and Luc Déry, promoting the Emanual Hoss-Desmarais film, Whitewash. 
  • Producer Stéphane Rituit, with the Nunavut-shot Uvanga. 
  • Director Rob Stewart, for Revolution.
  • Director Kyle Thomas, screening his short film The Post.

In Only God Forgives, Gosling is a taciturn gangster hiding out in Bangkok when his mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, asks him to avenge the death of his brother. Drive, Gosling's last outing at Cannes, gained critical acclaim, with Refn winning best director honours at the festival's end.

Soderbergh will screen his anticipated Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, with Michael Douglas playing the lead role and Matt Damon as his longtime partner. It will compete for the festival's top prize, the Palme d’Or.

Joel and Ethan Coen will present Inside Llewyn Davis, a story set in the 1960s folk scene in New York and starring Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman.

Payne, whose last movie was The Descendants, will compete with his father-son road trip movie Nebraska, while Polanski offers Venus in Fur, adapted from the Broadway play.

Forum for 'artists in danger'

In addition to the high-profile names, the 19-film competition lineup include several entries from countries with limited freedom of expression.

"The festival is a house that shelters artists in danger," Cannes president Gilles Jacob said, as he announced the nominees Thursday.

They include:

  • Grigris, a portrait of a disabled Chadian youth, by Chadian filmmaker Mahamat Saleh Haroun.
  • The Life of Adele, French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche's film about a young girl’s sexual fantasies.
  • A Touch of Sin by China’s Jia Zhangke, whose early films gained "underground" status in his home country.
  • The Past by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi, who directed the country's first Oscar-winner, A Separation.

Canadian in Un Certain Regard program

sophie-desmarais-cp

Sophie Desmarais stars in Sarah Prefers the Race. (Keystone/Canadian Press)

Un Certain Regard, the Cannes competition program that screens unusual and innovative films, opens with Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, a ripped-from-the-headlines tale about bored teens who break into celebrity homes to steal jewelry. It stars Harry Potter alumnus Emma Watson.

Quebec director Robichaud is screening her first feature, Sarah préfère la course (Sarah Prefers the Race), in the same program. Shot in Montreal and Quebec City, it stars Desmarais as a competitive runner.

The James Franco-directed film As I Lay Dying, adapted from the William Faulkner novel of the same name, also screens under Un Certain Regard.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 15-26 in southern France.