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You BETcha!: Kaouther Ben Hania, Ramata-Toulaye Sy, Alice Rohrwacher, Wang Bing & Glazer Top Contenders for the Palme d’Or

You BETcha!: Kaouther Ben Hania, Ramata-Toulaye Sy, Alice Rohrwacher, Wang Bing & Glazer Top Contenders for the Palme d’Or

Yesterday the Cannes Film Festival opened with Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry (marking the return of Johnny Depp in the French language no less) but today is the Super Bowl, or the Kentucky Derby, or the Monaco Grand Prix of film festival events. The ribbon gets officially cut today with the first pair of titles in the official competition. In the running for the Palme d’Or we have twenty-one features and if there is one trend we can certify is that Cannes topper Thierry Frémaux is looking to add some new blood to the mainstay regular auteurs but all bets are off once the jury is selected. It could be the first time filmmaker or a Ken Loach trying for a record-breaking third. While expert prognosticators will look towards individual jury taste buds and the current political climate du jour, we are reminded that jury heads such as Spike Lee and Tim Burton could bring an element of a surprise to their deliberations.

This year Ruben Östlund chairs a rather young jury. Paul Dano (The Fabelmans), Palme d’Or winner Julia Ducournau (Titane), Zambian- Welch breakout filmmaker Rungano Nyoni (I Am Not a Witch), Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room, Captain Marvel), Goya winner French actor Denis Ménochet (Inglourious Basterds, Beau is Afraid), Argentinian director Damián Szifron (Wild Tales, To Catch a Killer); Afghani-born, France-based author and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi (Earth and Ashes, The Patience Stone); and Moroccan director Maryam Touzani (The Blue Caftan, Adam) are gonna help select the multiple winners.

Given that Östlund’s previous films fall into the underdog zeitgeist, my guess is it’ll be a first time in competition filmmaker who’ll walk away with the Palme. Tunisian’s Kaouther Ben Hania‘s mostly docu but considered a hybrid Four Daughters could become the second African film (Lakhdar-Hamina’s Chronicle of the Years of Fire, 1975) to be crowned. Next in the line I’m adding Senegalese-French Ramata-Toulaye Sy‘s debut feature at the top. Coming out of the Red Sea Film Festival Souk labs with tremendous buzz, it’s a rarity to see any first time work break into the comp. Could Banel & Adama be a miracle, small gem that slays hearts?

Next in line and to be unveiled towards… the end of the line, she has won for the Grand Prize of the Jury in 2014 for The Wonders and Best Screenplay in 2018 for Happy as Lazzaro and the film gods above might think she is due. Alice Rohrwacher‘s makes it back to back years in Cannes (she premiered  the short le pupille which had a wonderful run up until Oscar night) with La chimera – Isabella Rossellini, Josh O’Connor and Alba Rohrwacher star in a film that is the Italian filmmaker’s English language debut. The next film with what I think has the best odds was a surprise selection – a three hour docu film (part of a trilogy) from Wang Bing. The Berlinale just awarded their top award to a docu, could Youth (Spring) follow that and in the same measure be the next Fahrenheit 9/11? And finally my money would be on another first time filmmaker in comp (and in Cannes). Jonathan Glazer‘s WWII project / book-to-film adaptation of The Zone of Interest has been buzzing well before it was added to this line-up. Here are our my “vegas” odds.

5/1 Kaouther Ben Hania FOUR DAUGHTERS (107m)

5/1 Ramata-Toulaye Sy BANEL AND ADAMA (87m)
5/1 Alice Rohrwacher LA CHIMERA (130m)
8/1 Wang Bing YOUTH (SPRING) (212m)
9/1 Jonathan Glazer THE ZONE OF INTEREST (106m)
10/1 Nuri Bilge Ceylan ABOUT DRY GRASSES (197m)

10/1 Ken Loach THE OLD OAK (113m)
15/1 Marco Bellocchio RAPITO aka KIDNAPPED (125m)
20/1 Aki Kaurismäki FALLEN LEAVES (81m)
25/1 Kore-eda Hirokazu MONSTER (125m)
25/1 Jessica Hausner CLUB ZERO (110m)

30/1 Justine Triet ANATOMY OF A FALL (151m)
30/1 Trần Anh Hùng THE POT-AU-FEU (145m)
30/1 Karim Aïnouz FIREBRAND (120m)
40/1 Todd Haynes MAY DECEMBER (113m)
50/1 Catherine Breillat LAST SUMMER (104m)

60/1 Catherine Corsini HOMECOMING (110m)
70/1 Nanni Moretti A BRIGHTER TOMORROW (96m)
80/1 Wim Wenders PERFECT DAYS (123m)
85/1 Wes Anderson ASTEROID CITY (104m)
90/1 Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire BLACK FLIES (120m)'s award guru Yama Rahimi is a San Francisco-based Afghan-American artist and filmmaker. Apart from being a contributing special feature writer for the site, he directed the short films Object of Affection ('03), Chori Foroosh ('06) and the feature length documentary film Afghanistan ('10). His top three of 2019 include: Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, Todd Phillips' Joker and Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse.

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