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Folman’s The Congress Opens Directors’ Fortnight

Yesterday’s glaring omission from the Cannes lineup will be the opening film for the Directors’ Fortnight. Edouard Waintrop has nabbed Ari Folman’s The Congress, which we (along with many others) predicted would have been granted a spot in the Main Comp (and had high in our predictions list) considering his 2008 film, Waltz With Bashir landed a slot there.

The Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, which runs from May 16th-26th, will announce its full lineup on Tuesday, but Folman’s presence here is hardly the first puzzling item this year. Sofia Coppola’s latest, The Bling Ring will open Un Certain Regard, a lineup she’s been showcased in before, but with her immensely successful filmography (including top prize in Venice 2010, not to mention she’s on a short list of Oscar nominated female directors in the US), her absence from the Main Competition is surprising. But between Folman and the decision to relegate Claire Denis to Un Certain Regard as well, we’re unsure about what the deciding factors were. However, it goes without saying that Directors’ Fortnight will now showcase one of the most anticipated films of the festival. And if this is the opening title, we can only imagine some of the surprises that will be revealed next week.

Featuring Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Danny Huston, Kodi Smith-McPhee, this is about an aging actress with a disabled child agrees to a large payment to have a full body imaging that will be digitized and utilized to create a digital actress. As part of the agreement, she will no longer control her likeness and the studio will then utilize the new virtual thespian in any manner they see fit. As part of the agreement, she will also be forbidden from acting ever again. The film explores the ramifications of how the new digital actress affects the future of the woman and society as a whole.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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