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Teens (!) and veterans jostle the twittersphere prior to the festival selection announcement as Nick Roddick observes, and the films chosen seem to cater to both – as well as making place for two Australian films, David Michôd’s The Rover and Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country.

Could this really be the people who were waiting for the Cannes Film Festival selection to be announced? The people eager to hear the order of service for this year’s sacrament in cinema’s Cathedral of Culture? Browsing the tweetosphere while waiting for the delayed Press Conference to start on Thursday was like being stuck in a teenage time warp.

“ROB! ROB! ROB!” tweeted someone every 10 seconds. Others, apparently unaware that the Golden Couple of Twilight split up three years ago, responded with “ROBSTEN! ROBSTEN!”* True, there were a few more mature voices trying to make themselves heard with the occasional “Terrence Malick! Terrence Malick!” But the whole thing still smelled strongly of teen spirit. Has the official line-up of the greatest film festival on earth come to this?

In the end, after 12 minutes’ delay, the press conference started; and, 23 minutes of waffle later– a delaying tactic every bit as irritating as those talent shows which have 30 tension-building seconds after saying “The couple leaving us tonight is.…” – Cannes’s délégué général Thierry Frémaux introduced the selection for the 66th Festival de Cannes. And, as it turned out, both the ROB-ROB-ROBs and the ROBSTEN-ROBSTENs got what they were waiting for.

"The Rover – the outback thriller directed by Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd"

As did Australia: the most eagerly awaited announcement of the morning came quite early on. The Rover – the outback thriller directed by Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd in which Robert Pattinson co-stars with Guy Pearce and Scoot McNairy – will be unveiled at Cannes in a special out-of-competition Midnight slot.

Pattinson also stars – alongside Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska – in David Cronenberg’s Hollywood-set Maps to the Stars, which Frémaux jokingly described as the director’s darker version of Robert Altman’s The Player. Kristen Stewart, meanwhile, will also be on the Croisette as one of the stars – along with Chloë Grace Moretz and Juliette Binoche – in French director Olivier Assayas’s bizarre-sounding Competition entry Sils Maria (the ‘Clouds’ which used to be part of the title seem to have cleared).

But enough of teen idols: Cannes is (also) about other things, and many of those vying for the Palme d’Or this year are far from being teenagers. 78-year-old Ken Loach will be there with his ‘final’ film (that’s what he says), Jimmy’s Hall, set in the same stretch of Irish history as his Palme d’Or-winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley; and Mike Leigh, another slightly younger British Palme d’Or-winner, will be back with Mr. Turner, a biopic about the great British romantic landscape painter JMW Turner, played in the film by Leigh regular Timothy Spall.

Other veterans returning to the Croisette are the Dardennes brothers, Luc and Jean-Pierre, with Two Days, One Night, described as a Belgian western; actor/director Tommy Lee Jones with The Homesman, nine years on from his sublime Cannes directorial debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada; Michel Hazanavicius, who three years ago proved the French could laugh about cinema with The Artist, is back with a very different kind of film: The Search, set in war-torn Chechnya, starring Annette Bening alongside Hazanavicius’s wife (and star of The Artist) Bérénice Bejo.

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the Grand Jury Prize in 2011 with the masterly 150-minute Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, returns with the even longer (196-minute) and doubtless just as masterly Winter’s Sleep. Plus the Competition boasts a pair of enfants terribles from very different generations: Jean-Luc Godard, who caused a major upset by failing to show up at the screening of Film socialisme in 2010, has been allowed back this year with Goodbye to Language; and 25-year-old Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who publicly whinged when his last film was not in competition three years ago, has made it into big school this year with a film called Mommy (some will remember Dolan’s first film was How I Killed My Mother).

"Un Certain Regard section provides a berth for Australia’s Rolf de Heer with Charlie’s Country"

The parallel Un Certain Regard section provides a berth for Australia’s Rolf de Heer with Charlie’s Country, with co-writer David Gulpilil in the title role, as well as for Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River.

Charlie's Country

And once-Australian actress plays the title role in the Festival’s opening film, Grace of Monaco, opposite Tim Roth as Prince Rainier. Not selected, though, is early favourite Jersey Boys, brought to the screen by no less than Clint Eastwood, which opens in the US on June 20.

A last-minute mea culpa: Frémaux and his team watched 1,800 films and selected 49. I have mentioned only a handful – and even then I seem to be going on forever. Also in Competition are Bertrand Bonello with Saint Laurent; Atom Egoyan with Captives; Naomi Kawase with Still the Water; Bennett Miller with Foxcatcher; Alice Rohrwacher with Le meraviglie; Abderrahane Sissako with Timbuktu; Damian Szifron with Wild Tales; and Andrei Zvyagintsev with Leviathan. There.

Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys

And all those people praying for the latest Terrence Malick film, Knight of Cups – whose IMDb tag line reads “A man, temptations, celebrity and excess”? Well, they’re just going to have to go on feeling misunderstood for a little longer.

* ROBSTEN – Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame fan cult reference

Published April 20, 2014

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Nick Roddick

The Rover

Grace of Monaco

Maps to the Stars

"ROBSTEN" - Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson, Twilight fame - fan cult reference.

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