The directors’ latest works are among 19 films that will be competing for world cinema’s most coveted prize at the star-studded festival, which runs 8-19 May on the French Riviera.
Unveiling the line-up on Thursday, the festival's executive director Thierry Frémaux said the French authorities were supporting Cannes’ request to Tehran to allow Panahi to show his new film 'Three Faces', and also to "let him return home". The dissident director of 'Taxi Teheran', which won a Golden Bear at Berlin three years ago, is banned from leaving his country.
Frémaux said a similar plea would be made regarding Serebrennikov’s 'Leto' (Summer), a drama. The Russian director faces up to 10 years in prison on fraud charges that critics allege are trumped up to punish him for his views which may have hurt Kremlin sensibilities, inlcuding views on homosexuality.
Panahi and Serebrennikov's films will be competing with likes of Italian Matteo Garrone's entry, 'Dogman' and Kore-eda Hirokazu's Shoplifters.
US film maker Spike Lee, returns to Cannes for the first time in 20 years. Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman' tells the story of a black police officer in Colorado who went undercover in 1978 to infiltrate the southern-based white supremacist organisation, the Ku Klux Klan.
Fifty years after he helped stage a mutiny at the 1968 Cannes festival, film legend Jean-Luc Godard is also back in the race with his latest experimental movie 'Le Livre d’image' (The Picture Book) described as a “revolutionary song in five chapters”. A still from another Godard classic, 'Pierrot le Fou', which shows Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karenina kissing under a very blue sky, is this year’s festival poster. The poster says Frémaux is meant "to capture the spirit of the times" and this year, they wanted to "reiterate that cinema is life and love", to which he added that in the future, why not two men or two women in an embrace.
Films from three women directors made the cut, they are Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki with 'Capharnum', Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher with environment and society-conscious 'Lazzaro Felice' (Happy Lazarus) and France’s Eva Husson with 'Les Filles du soleil' (Girls of the Sun), where Kurdish female fighters take on the Islamic State group.
Husson, with her second feature after 'Bang Gang' is one of three French films through to the Palm contest along with Stéphane Brizé's 'En guerre' ('At War'), and Christophe Honoré's with 'Plaire, aimer et courir vite' ('Sorry Angel').
Asian Palme d'Or entries include Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke's 'Ash is Purest White', Iranian Asghar Farhadi, whose Spanish-language movie, Todos lo Saben' or 'Everybody Knows", is the opening gala film on May 8.
Newcomers add to anticipation
AB Shawky from Egypt gets a first stab at the Golden Palm with his entry 'Yomeddine' so will also compete for the Golden Camera, the award for a first feature across all sections and the parallel programmes Director's Fortnight of the Critic's Week.
In the Un certain regard section of world cinema from a defining view-point, six out of the 15 films announced on Thursday are also first features.
In fact, the majority of the works in the line-up so far are from less or as yet, virtually unknown talents. This year the festival has a more edgy feel, closer to the parallel programmes at Cannes.
Frémaux has promised some add-ons in the coming days. Rumour has it that Lars von Trier could make a comeback after disgrace in 2011 when he remarked in Cannes in a press conference that he was "a Nazi", and then apologised for what he claimed was a just a joke. Frémaux didn't rule it out.
Films in competition
- Todos Lo Saben - Asghar Farhadi - Iran
- En Guerre - Stéphane Brizé - France
- Dogman - Matteo Garrone - Italy
- Picture Book - Jean-Luc Godard - Switzerland
- Netemp Samatemo (Asako I&II) - Ryuske Hamaguchi - Japan
- Plaire Aimer et Courir Vite (Sorry Angel) - Christophe Honoré - France
- Les Filles du Soleil (The Girls of the Sun) - Eva Husson
- Ash is the Purest White - Jia Zhang-Ke - China
- Shoplifters - Kore-eda Hirokazu - Japan
- Capharnum - Nadine Labarki - Lebanon
- Buh-ning - Lee Chang-dong - South Korea
- BlacKkKlansman - Spike Lee -US
- Under the Silver Lake - David Robert Mitchell
- Three faces - Jafar Panahi - Iran
- Zima Wojna (Cold War) - Pawel Pawlikowski - Poland-UK
- Lazzaro Felice (Happy Lazarus) - Alicia Rohrwacher - Italy
- Yomeddine - A.B. Shawky - Egypt
- Leto - Kirill Serebrennikov - Russia
Un certain regard
- Gräns - Ali Abbassi - Iran
- Sofia - Meryem Benm'Barek - Morocco
- Les Chatouilles (Tickles) - Andréa Bescond, Eric Metayer - France
- Long Day's Journey into Night - Bi gan - China
- Manto - Nandita Das - India
- Girl - Lukas Dhont - Belgium
- Guele d'Ange ( Angel Face) - Vanessa Filho
- Euphoria - Valeria Golino - Italy
- My Favourite Fabric - Gaya Jiji - Syria
- Rafiki - Wanuri Kahiu - Kenya
- Die Stropers (Harvesters) - Etienne Kallos
- In My Room -Ulrich Kohler - Germany
- El Angel - Luis Ortega - Argentina
- A genoux les garçons (Sextape) - Antoine Desroisières - France
- The Gentle Indifference of the World - Adilkhan Yerzhanov - Kazakhstan