Cannes welcomes Brad, Sean, Johnny, Mel, Ryan, Kiefer and Rachel—but no Canadian movies

Terence Malick's 'The Tree of Life,' starring Brad Pitt, has the perfect pedigree of red-carpet heat and auteur mystique

Ryan Gosling in Cannes competition entry Drive

The Cannes Film Festival unveiled its official selection today, and it looks like there will be no shortage of star power on the red carpet. But with no Canadian features in the program (short films have yet to be announced), those looking for Canuck contenders at world cinema’s annual Olympics will have to content themselves with a trio of actors: Keifer Sutherland plus ex-sweethearts Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. McAdams stars in the opening night gala, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which will play out of competition. Gosling co-stars with Carey Mulligan (An Education) in Drive, an indie feature by Danish director Nicolas Winding (Bronson, Valhalla Rising). Brad Pitt, meanwhile, appears with Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in Terence Malick’s long-awaited The Tree of Life, a picture that combines red-carpet heat with auteur mystique to create the perfect Cannes pedigree, at least on paper. Like Gosling, Penn will also feature in a European film, playing a former rock star in Paul Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place.  Director Jodie Foster will finesse the second coming of Mel Gibson in The Beaver, which will play safely out of competition. And Johnny Depp will no doubt find a yacht to his liking to help launch Rob Marshall’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, also out of competition.

The competition includes a beefy presence  of A-list Cannes alumni. The Dardenne brothers, who already have a pair of Palme d’Ors between them, will tap childhood themes once again with A Boy and His Bike, starring  Cécile De France (Hereafter) and Jérémie Renier. Master provocateur Lars Von Trier will debut Melancholia, starring Kristin Dunst and Keifer Sutherland. The strong European contingent also includes Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, who offers a revenge tale called The Skin That I Inhabit—starring Antonio Banderas as a surgeon  hunting for the men who killed his daughter—along with Finland’s Aki Kaurismaki (Le Havre), and Italy’s Nanni Moretti (Habemus Papum). Gus Van Sant, who won the Palme d’Or for Elephant, has been oddly relegated to an opening gala slot in the sidebar program, Un Certain Regard, with Restless, which stars Mia Wasikowska, who—after Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre—is now officially the Hottest Actress of Her Generation (pace Saoirse Ronan).

Potential Canadian premieres missing in action include new movies by Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz) and David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method). At this point, I’m not sure if either was submitted to Cannes. I know that Cronenberg’s film has been competed for months now, but from what I’ve heard it will likely premiere at the Venice festival, followed closely by TIFF, a one-two punch that’s become the favoured launch strategy for fall releases with Oscar ambitions.

Cannes runs from May 11 to 22. Robert De Niro will head main jury. For the complete program announced today go to: Cannes program .

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