His 1989 Palme d’Or triumph announced Steven Soderbergh as a major new force in cinema. Now the director hopes to mark his “retirement” with a repeat performance after entering his swan song at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.
Soderbergh, who heralded a new wave of independent American film-makers with his breakthrough film Sex, Lies and Videotape, succumbed to pleas from the organisers of the 66th Cannes Film Festival to enter his new Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, for the prestigious award.
Soderbergh, 50, has indicated that the film, which stars Michael Douglas as the lead with Matt Damon as his young lover, will be his last, so that he can concentrate on his new passion, painting.
The Oscar-winner claimed that Hollywood studios refused to finance the $5 million HBO biopic because it was “too gay”.
Announcing this year’s Cannes selection, Festival delegate general Thierry Fremaux said that while Soderbergh had initially wanted to present “Candelabra” out of competition, he begged the director via email to “say yes” to a competition slot, and Soderbergh agreed.
“His first film, Sex, Lies and Videotape, played at Cannes and won the Palme d’Or, and we wish him the same fortune with (his last) film,” Fremaux said.
Soderbergh’s biopic competes against Only God Forgives, a second collaboration between actor Ryan Gosling and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, whose LA thriller Drive proved the big hit of the 2011 Cannes festival.
The Coen brothers will unveil Inside Llewyn Davis, their take on the New York’s ’60s folk-music scene starring Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake.
Another American auteur director, Alexandra Payne, will present his road-trip comedy, Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur, a French-language adaptation of the Broadway play starring starring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric is also in competition.
Steven Spielberg will serve as president of the jury at the festival which is set to enjoy a starry opening night on May 15 with the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The only British film to feature is a special screening of Stephen Frears’ Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, another HBO-backed biopic about the boxer’s battle with the US Government over his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war.
Emma Watson stars in The Bling Ring, the latest film from Sofia Coppola, based on the real-life robberies of celebrity homes in Malibu, which screens out of competition.
Films in the competition:
Like Father Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru) directed by Kore-Eda Hirokazu
Tian Zhu Ding directed by Zhangke Jia
The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Behind the Candelabra directed by Steven Soderbergh
Only God Forgives directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Borgman directed by Alex Van Warmerdam
Venus in Fur (La Venua a la Fourrure) directed by Roman Polanski
Jimmy P (Un Indien des Plaines) directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Michael Kohlhaas directed by Arnaud des Pallières
Inside Llewyn Davis directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Un Chateau en Italie directed by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
Just 17 (Jeune & Jolie) directed by Francois Ozon
Straw Shield (Wara No Tate) directed by Takashi Miike
La Vie D'Adele directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Grisgris directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
The Immigrant directed by James Gray
Nebraska directed by Alexander Payne
The Past (Le Passé) directed by Asghar Farhadi
Heli directed by Amat Escalante