American director Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die will kick off the 72ndedition of the Cannes Film Festival on May 14.
Earlier, it was widely expected that the Japanese helmer, Kore-eda's French language, The Truth, would do the honours on the inaugural day, given his Palm dÓr win for The Shoplifters last year.
It is quite likely that Cannes in keen on a star-studded opening night which a contingent from Hollywood would be able to offer with glitter and glamour. Jarmusch's latest work is all about zombies in which local cops like Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny battle the dead. Along with Murray and company, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits are part of The Dead Don't Die – which will be among the competing brigade for the Palm d' Or.
According to the Festival, the movie is set in the sleepy small town of Centerville, where something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the sky, the hours of daylight are becoming unpredictable and animals are beginning to exhibit unusual behaviour. No one quite knows why.News reports are scary and scientists are concerned.But no one foresees the strangest and most dangerous repercussion that will soon start plaguing Centerville.
The film, 13th from Jarmusch, is also supposed to be comical – an element that is often useful to usher in a Festival like Cannes which is mostly about serious cinema.
(Cannes' opening nights tend to be sombre. Last year, Everybody Knows, a serious thriller with the husband-and-wife duo, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, helmed by Iran's Asghar Farhadi (whose A Separation was a masterpiece), kick started the 12-day event. It was a Spanish work, and Farhadi has been toying with languages other than his own. His 2013 The Past was in French and Italian. )
Jarmusch is no newcomer to Cannes. He first arrived there in 1984 with his Stranger Than Paradise, and won the Camera dÓr prize for first work. He has been returning to Cannes with most of his movies, including Paterson, a subtle, sweet story of a bus driver and his humdrum life with a wife (Golshifteh Farahani)and cat for company. Nothing much happens in the film, but it was so wonderfully written and acted out that it never let my attention waver.
The other titles of the director that played at Cannes include Broken Flowers (with Murray and Swinton), Only Lovers Left Alive, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Dead Man, Mystery Train and Down By Law. His Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California won him the short movie Palm dÓr in 1993.
The Festival's official selections will be announced in Paris on April 18, at least most of the list will be out. In recent years, the Cannes General-Delegate, Thierry Fremaux, has made it a point to leave a few slots for last-minute inclusions.
The Festival runs from May 14 to 25.
(Author, commentator and movie critic Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered Cannes for 28 years)