Stars and highlights of the 2023 Cannes film festival

New films from Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders, the latest Indiana Jones movie and debut films by promising African directors are highlights as Cannes kicks off with Johnny Depp's 'comeback'

Stars and highlights of the 2023 Cannes film festival
Stars and highlights of the 2023 Cannes film festival
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DW

With its picturesque location on the French Riviera and long history, Cannes remains Europe's most prestigious film festival. This year marks the 76th edition, which takes place from May 16-27 and — as usual — features plenty of prominent attendees.

The festival opens with the film "Jeanne du Barry," starring Johnny Depp as King Louis XV. In the film, the king falls for a young woman from a working-class background and makes her his latest mistress.

The female lead is played by French actress Maïwenn, who also wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

For Depp, Cannes is his first cinematic appearance since the high-profile lawsuit between he and his ex-wife Amber Heard. While some critics billed the film as a "comeback" for Depp, others criticized the fact that it got the coveted opening spot at Cannes.

"Jeanne du Barry" is screening out of competition at Cannes.

Last adventure for Indiana Jones?

Among the other prominent titles that will also celebrate their world premiere without running for the Palme d'Or award is the latest installment film of the Indiana Jones franchise, "Indiana Jones and the Wheel of Destiny," as well as Martin Scorsese's three-and-a-half-hour "Killers of the Flower Moon," a western crime drama revolving around murders on a Native American reservation in the 1920s.

Now 80 years-old, Harrison Ford plunges into his last adventure in the role of archaeologist Henry Walton — aka Indiana Jones. After the legendary trilogy, which was released between 1981 and 1989, followed by a fourth film in 2008 that divided critics but still made nearly $800 million at the global box office, expectations for this final installment are high.

Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, directs a star-studded cast in his film "Killers of the Flower Moon." It's the sixth time the director has worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, and the 10th time he's cast Robert De Niro. Also on board is recent Oscar winner Brendan Fraser, who just took home the best actor award for his leading role in "The Whale."

Plenty of Hollywood stars are represented in the competition. Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore star in Todd Haynes' romantic drama "May December," and Scarlett Johansson appears in Wes Anderson's science fiction film, "Asteroid City." Also in competition is German actress Sandra Hüller ("Toni Erdmann"), who stars in Jonathan Glazer's Holocaust drama, "The Zone of Interest."

Of the 21 entries in competition, only six are by women directors, but that's still a new record for the number of female directors represented at Cannes.

Among them is French-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, competing with her feature debut, "Banel & Adama," which features a cast of non-professional actors performing in Pulaar, a language spoken in the Senegalese River valley area, where the film was shot.

Toilets in Tokyo

German director Wim Wenders is represented in the Competition for the 10th time. The 1984 Cannes winner will present his film "Perfect Days," which tells the story of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo.

Another work by Wenders, the 3D documentary "Anselm," about the German painter Anselm Kiefer, will also celebrate its world premiere in Cannes.

The film "Goodbye Julia" by director Mohamed Kordofani will be the first film from Sudan to premiere at Cannes. The movie tells the story of Mona, who lives in northern Sudan and is plagued by guilt after covering up a murder. To make up for her guilt, she takes in a South Sudanese widow, Julia, and her son Daniel.

The plot leads up to the geopolitical conflict between North and South Sudan that is still to come in the film. The movie is part of the section "Un certain regard," which presents films with unusual styles and stories.

This article was originally written in German.

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