When the Competition lineup for the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival was announced a few weeks back, two questions came immediately to the fore: Why aren’t any female filmmakers represented, and after a 2011 slate that featured four?”; And, “What’s with the generous inclusion of so many American films?” I don’t have an answer for the former, particularly with the quality of some of the films included. But in regards to the latter, in addition to fest opener Moonrise Kingdom, there are a whopping six more American films in the Competition strand this year (for comparisons sake, there were two last year, and as a fest that prides itself on international democracy, it’s rare to see the selection committee so liberal with the national selection ratio). Would these films really be that good—or worse, were the other foreign products so disappointing as to not warrant inclusion (well, I’m here, and I can tell you that’s certainly not the case). Or were there other factors at play, something that would facilitate a Lee Daniels film (um, for example) in the main category of the world’s biggest film festival?
I can only speak for two films thus far—and I’m certainly in the tank for the charming Moonrise—but if the inclusion of John Hillcoat’s Lawless is any indication, we may need to keep our guard up for the last quarter of the fest, when five of these remaining American films premiere over the last five days. And it’s not even that the film is bad, per se, but it’s glaringly flawed in a way that provokes curiosity concerning the selection process. A film already stacked with A-list talent and sporting the heavy-hitting distribution muscle of the Weinstein Company wouldn’t seem to need the added exposure of a international festival bow (or at least not a Competition slot). Then again, it’s a genre film (remember, Drive premiered here last year), and it’s nice in a sense to get some relief from the stern disposition of the majority of it’s competitors.