Cannes Film Festival: An old lady not to be messed with

A glittering cast has been assembled for Cannes, take 65 – no wonder the world's most prestigious film festival is feeling bullish

Don't be fooled. The word "festival" doesn't mean that anything goes. Cannes has always been governed by protocol – as any man can tell you who's turned up for an evening gala in tux and dicky bow, only to be turned away for wearing the wrong shoes. And these days, the festival has a touch of the iron fist about it. Last year, after making his "I'm a Nazi" wisecracks, Lars von Trier found the festival declaring him persona non grata – which surely carries a certain prestige, a sort of auteur Asbo.

Even before the start of this year's event, more knuckles have been rapped. Last month, a French blogger posted what was allegedly a leaked advance list of Cannes competition titles. It turned out to be an April Fool prank (although it did predict six titles correctly). Festival director Thierry Frémaux was having none of it, and responded with fighting talk. "It's disgusting to play with such a thing," he declared to the industry website Deadline. "There is a code of conduct for Cannes and it must be respected. Those who don't respect the code will never come back to Cannes." That last sentence, tweeters observed, was surely a tagline waiting for a movie.

And yet the festival's sure hand has faltered in the last decade, with several dud selections and soul-destroying opening films. (Did we really sit through The Da Vinci Code?) And there was a time when the festival proper could easily be eclipsed, in media eyes, by the opportunistic sideshows going on elsewhere on the Croisette – when the biggest story in town would be a Spice Girls photo-op or a rumoured glimpse of Michael Jackson in a beachfront traffic jam.

These days, however, Cannes can justly pride itself on being the festival among festivals – and on its own terms. It's in a fairly unassailable position. Look at its European A-list rivals. Berlin, when it's on form, lives up to its high-minded reputation, but its tawdry red-carpet glitz looks increasingly absurd, given the often prosaic content. And Venice may provide stars and, in recent years, a strong selection of admirable films – but it doesn't offer the sheer concentration of major attractions that Cannes does.

In fact, this year's Croisette menu is so mouth-watering that, even if the films prove disappointing, the festival will already have triumphed on prestige alone. The competition is stacked with blue-chip auteurs. (Although, as has been widely noted, they're all male this year.) There's Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke, Ken Loach, along with several significant art-house names consolidating their renown – Italy's Matteo Garrone (who made the Mafia drama Gomorrah), the Precious director Lee Daniels, and Romania's Cristian Mungiu, who was largely unknown when he scooped the Palme d'Or in 2007 with 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

The only drawback of such an all-star competition is that you miss out on surprises and revelations – like 4 Weeks ..., in fact. It also makes it that much harder to leave the Palais and head further afield, to discover new names in the Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week sections.

This year, too, the paparazzi will be thrilled by a very snap-worthy contingent of stars. Expect to see Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Marion Cotillard, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Isabelle Huppert, Brad Pitt, Reece Witherspoon, Kristen Stewart. There's even a youngish British face making his acting debut – rocker Pete Doherty, whose publicists must be even now working on getting him a persona non grata certificate to add to his collection.

Which brings us to the double bind of Cannes. One is expected to behave well there, as befits this lofty celebration of the Seventh Art. Yet Cannes' pre-eminence on the world cinema map is partly contingent on its ability to provide the sort of sulphurous controversy that attends the utterances of Lars von Trier and his ilk. A tame, scandal-free Cannes would be a disaster – but looking at this year's form, that seems a distant prospect ....

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all