Xavier Dolan, Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach to compete at Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival organizers have announced its 2019 line up, which pits revered directors such as Ken Loach, Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodovar and Bong Joon-ho against each other in competition for the top Palme d'Or prize.

Quebecer Monia Chokri, 1 of 13 women in lineup, sees 1st feature, A Brother's Love, up for Un Certain Regard

Festival artistic director Thierry Frémaux unveils this year's Cannes Film Festival lineup in Paris on Thursday. The festival will run from May 14 to May 25. (François Mori/Associated Press)

Cannes Film Festival organizers have announced the festival's 2019 competition lineup, which pits revered directors such as Ken Loach, Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodovar and Bong Joon-ho against each other for the top Palme d'Or prize.

Festival veterans Loach and Almodovar, as well as the Dardenne Brothers, Jarmusch, Terrence Malick and Xavier Dolan — all of whom have previously won accolades at the French Riviera festival — will return for the May 14-25 event.

Four female directors were among the 19 nominated in the main category. They are Atlantique by Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner's Little Joe, Portrait of a Lady on Fire by Céline Sciamma and Sibyl by Justine Triet.

The last time four women were nominated at Cannes was in 2011, when that number set a record for the festival.

Cannes has increasingly come under criticism for its tradition of overwhelmingly selecting films by male directors. Last year, Agnès Varda, Ava Du Vernay, Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek and Kristen Stewart joined a star-studded red-carpet demonstration protesting gender inequality in the film industry.

The festival's artistic director Thierry Frémaux subsequently signed a pledge to raise the prominence of female filmmakers at festivals.

A total of 13 women were included in all categories this year — although male artists still dominate.

Among those 13, Quebecer Monia Chokri will compete for the Caméra d'or with her film La femme de mon frère (A Brother's Love).

"I am hugely touched," said 35-year-old Chokri, who is from Quebec City. "It's huge for a first film. I am a little elated."

A Brother's Love, which Chokri wrote as well as directed, tells the story of siblings whose close relationship is torn apart when the brother falls in love.

"Comedy comes naturally to me," Chokri told Radio-Canada. "It's something that is part of my life: laughter, humour, all of that.

Although it's her first time at Cannes as a director, Chokri has walked the red carpet before as an actor. She starred in Xavier Dolan's Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats), which took the Regards jeunes prize at Cannes in 2010.

New Dolan drama

Canadian Dolan will be back at Cannes with the French-language drama Matthias and Maxime, revolving around a group of friends in their late-20s. Earlier, the Quebec filmmaker won the Jury Prize (in 2014 for Mommy) and shared in the Grand Prix (for 2016's It's Only the End of the World).

Director Xavier Dolan poses after winning the Grand Prix award for It's Only the End of the World, in Cannes in 2016. (Joel Ryan/The Associated Press)

Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die, a zombie comedy starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Chloe Sevigny as police officers protecting a small town, will open the festival on a starry and surreal note.

It's not the first time Jarmusch has competed for the Palme at Cannes using the undead — his 2013 Only Lovers Left Alive featured erudite vampires.

Other Americans in the running include Malick, who returns after Tree of Life won the Palme d'Or in 2011 with the long-awaited A Hidden Life, about an Austrian anti-Nazi conscientious objector who was executed in 1943. Memphis-born Ira Sachs will present Frankie starring Isabelle Huppert.

Two-time Palme d'Or winner Loach will unveil Sorry We Missed You, about a young British family struggling to stay afloat in the modern era of casual jobs and gig work.

No shift on Netflix

Almodovar will be back on the festival's red carpeted steps with the new film Pain and Glory — a self-referential movie about an aging filmmaker played by Antonio Banderas, alongside longtime muse Penelope Cruz. It's been compared to Italian filmmaker Fellini's masterpiece 8 1/2.

The Host and Snowpiercer director Bong is set to debut his new film Parasite. He was last at Cannes in 2017 with his action adventure Okja, one of two Netflix films permitted to compete at the festival that year (the other was Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories).

The inclusion of the streamer sparked a major protest, especially by French exhibitors, and prompted Cannes to introduce a requirement that all films in submitted for competition also be planned for release in French cinemas. Despite recent talks, Frémaux reiterated on Thursday that position.

"We don't want to accept films in competition that won't meet audiences in theaters," he said, adding however that festival officials were in contact with Netflix earlier this week and "there is no battle between us."

Inarritu leads jury

There was dismay that Quentin Tarantino missed out from being included with the highly anticipated Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.

Frémaux lamented to critics during the press conference that the movie was still in editing — explaining that Tarantino's insistence on using laborious 35mm will delay its completion.

Oscar-winning director Alejandro Inarritu will be jury president, although the jury members have not yet been announced.

Other highlights of the festival will include a biopic of singer Elton John called Rocketman, which will be screened out of competition and was directed by Dexter Fletcher. The aging rocker will bring his own inimitable brand of star power to the festival when he attends the screening.

Cannes 2019 lineup, announced Thursday


  • Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar
  • The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio
  • Wild Goose Lake, Yinan Diao
  • Parasite, Bong Joon-ho
  • Young Ahmed, The Dardenne Brothers
  • Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin
  • Atlantique, Mati Diop
  • Matthias and Maxime, Xavier Dolan
  • Little Joe, Jessica Hausner
  • Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach
  • Les Misérables, Ladj Ly
  • A Hidden Life (previously known as Radegund), Terrence Malik
  • Nighthawk, Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles
  • The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu
  • Frankie, Ira Sachs
  • The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma
  • It Must Be Heaven, Elia Suleiman
  • Sybil, Justine Triet

Out of Competition

  • Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher
  • The Best Years of Life, Claude Lelouch
  • Maradona, Asif Kapadia
  • La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos
  • Too Old to Die Young, Nicolas Winding Refn (2 episodes of TV series)

Special Screenings

  • Share, Pippa Bianco
  • Family Romance LLC, Werner Herzog
  • Tommaso, Abel Ferrara
  • To Be Alive and Know It, Alain Cavalier
  • For Sama, Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts

Midnight Screenings

  • The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-Tae

Un Certain Regard

  • Invisible Life, Karim Aïnouz
  • Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov
  • The Swallows of Kabul, Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobé Mévellec
  • A Brother's Love, Monia Chokri
  • The Climb, Michael Covino
  • Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont
  • A Sun That Never Sets, Olivier Laxe
  • Chambre 212, Christophe Honoré
  • Port Authority, Danielle Lessovitz
  • Papicha, Mounia Meddour
  • Adam, Maryam Touzani
  • Zhuo Ren Mi Mi, Midi Z
  • Liberté, Albert Serra
  • Bull, Annie Silverstein
  • Summer of Changsha, Zu Feng
  • EVGE, Nariman Aliev 

With files from CBC News and Radio-Canada


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