Film Festival Focus
Who To Follow at Cannes 2021
08 Jul 2021 | 3 MINS READ
Curzon

As with every edition, there is an embarrassment of riches at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. And eagerly anticipating every premiere is the world’s press, critics and reviewers who have made their way down to the French Riviera – and isolated themselves if required – in readiness for the film calendar’s most prestigious celebration of world cinema. 

We know that Cannes can be an overwhelming behemoth of an event, and the Twitter chatter around it is no exception, so we thought we’d whittle down the list for those looking to follow the key UK critics attending this year’s festival.

And, as a bonus, we caught up with a few of them to ask them two questions:

1. Which film are you most looking forward to? 

2. What have you missed most about IRL (In Real Life) festivals? 

Here’s our list of who to follow, accompanied by the journalists’ responses to those two questions: 

Cannes 2021

Cannes 2021

Khaleem Aftab – Freelancer (@aftabamon)

1. The big names in competition. Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island), Asghar Farhadi (A Hero), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Lingui), Leos Carax (Annette), Ildikó Enyedi (The Story of My Wife). Making new discoveries, such as the latest films from Africa. Somali director Khadar Ahmed’s The Gravedigger's Wife playing at a festival that has become slightly more inclusive. And films by UK filmmakers Joanna Hogg, Clio Barnard and Andrea Arnold.   

2. Watching films as they are meant to be seen. Discussing them with filmmakers. Bumping into people in street. Learning how wrong everyone else is about the movies they like. Seeing the faces of directors and actors experiencing movies with audiences. Feeling part of a community. It's where the best films get aired, so they open my mind to cinema. And of course, second-guessing the jury.

A Hero (2021)

A Hero (2021)

Helen O’Hara – Empire (@HelenLOHara)

1. I'm really excited about Andrea Arnold's Cow. The idea of a film that's entirely about, well, a bovine female is so baffling that I'm intrigued to see how that turns out. Whether the cow saves the world, or has an epic love story – or just, you know, stands in a field – I trust Arnold to find an interesting take on it. 

2. I'm just thrilled to be out of the house and in a cinema at all, of course. But it's particularly good to be back at a festival for that sense of discovery, going into a screening with very little idea what you might be able to see. And, you know, being out of the house and back in a cinema. Did I mention that?

Cow (2021)

Cow (2021)

Peter Bradshaw – The Guardian (@PeterBradshaw1)

1. The film I’m most looking forward to is Noémie Merlant’s Mi Iubita Mon Amour. (Merlant played the artist in Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and appears in Jacques Audiard’s competition entry Paris, 13th District. The Romania-set Mi Iubita Mon Amour, which she also wrote and stars in, is Merlant’s feature directorial debut.)

2. What I miss about IRL festivals is what everyone misses - the talking, to real-live human beings who’ve just seen the same film!  

Mi Iubita Mon Amour (2021)

Mi Iubita Mon Amour (2021)

Hannah Strong – Little White Lies (@thethirdhan)

1. The film I’m most excited about is Titane by Julia Ducournau. I adored her feature debut Raw and am so intrigued by the trailer for this one. She’s a fascinating filmmaker and I think it will be a real joy seeing the film in Cannes. 

2. The thing I’ve missed most about IRL festivals is the atmosphere – being surrounded by people who love films as much as I do for 10 days is the greatest thing in the world. I always come away from festivals with such a renewed love for the medium and my own involvement in it, as well as new friendships and new discoveries of films and filmmakers. It’s a real privilege to be here as part of my job, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Titane (2021)

Titane (2021)

Tim Robey – The Daily Telegraph (@trim_obey)

1. Benedetta (Paul Verhoeven’s tale of a 17th century nun experiencing religious and erotic visions, starring Virginie Efira and Charlotte Rampling.)

2. Films about randy 17th century nuns. (Unfortunately for Tim, this appears to be the only film in the festival featuring randy 17th century nuns.)

Benedetta (2021)

Benedetta (2021)

Philip De Semlyen – Time Out (@PhildeSemlyen)

1. So many! But if I had to single it down to just one, it has to be Ari Folman's Where is Anne Frank. Waltz With Bashir still haunts my dreams and I can't wait to see how he's realised this story in animation. Also, Leos Carax's Annette and Jacques Audiard's Paris, 13th District.

2. The sense of discovery, the fitness workout of sprinting to a screening I'm slightly late for, the dietary miracle of existing almost entirely on croissants.

Paris, 13th District (2021)

Paris, 13th District (2021)

Robbie Collin – The Daily Telegraph (@robbiereviews)

1. The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson’s much delayed – another reason to hate COVID – and very anticipated all-star 1960s extravaganza.)  

2. Queuing up to spit into a test tube. No, wait – it's those moments in the cinema when you realise you're seeing something for the first time that you'll treasure for the rest of your life.

The French Dispatch (2021)

The French Dispatch (2021)

Louise Tutt – Screen Daily (@mslouisetutt)

1. The quartet of UK films: Mothering Sunday (Eva Husson, with a screenplay by Lady Macbeth’s Alice Birch, based on Graham Swift’s novel), Ali & Ava (Clio Barnard), Cow (Andrea Arnold) and The Souvenir: Part II (Joanna Hogg), because we have been waiting so long for them and the word on all of them is very strong. Also, Julia Ducournau’s Titane – I loved Raw because it was so odd yet absorbing. And Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. He’s one of my favourite directors.

2. Where to begin? The people, the buzz, the late nights, the exhaustion. Being able to focus on work outside the domestic sphere.

The Souvenir: Part II (2021)

The Souvenir: Part II (2021)

Damon Wise – Financial Times & Total Film (@yo_damo)

1. I can’t wait to see Julia Ducournau’s Titane. It looks crazy, sounds crazy, and I’m told it is crazy.  

2. The thing I’ve missed most is the moment during a festival when you start to get word of mouth on the buzz films. Social media isn’t quite the same, because the best arbiters aren’t always on it.

Isabel Stevens – Sight & Sound (@IsStevens)

Ed Potton – The Times UK (@edpotton)

Guy Lodge – Variety (@GuyLodge)

Here they are all in one place if you fancy following them all. If you love film, we highly recommend it! 

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