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Rachel Weisz flies the flag for Britain in Cannes

Rachel Weisz, in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth

Rachel Weisz, in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth

The British actress Rachel Weisz will star in two of the films in competition for the Palme d’Or in Cannes next month, but neither of them is British.

In fact, of the seventeen competition films so far announced, there’s not a British director among them.

Weisz will be seen alongside Colin Farrell in The Lobster, by the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose Dogtooth won the Un Certain Regard showcase of more artistic films in 2009. She will also co-star with Sir Michael Caine and Jane Fonda in the Italian film Youth, or La Giovinezza, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, whose Oscar-winning The Great Beauty was in competition in Cannes two years ago.

Among the other high profile films screening in competition is an Australian version of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and directed by Justin Kurzel, whose Snowtown won admirers in the Critics Week strand in 2011. Gus Van Sant, who won the Palme d’Or with Elephant in 2003, is back in competition for a fourth time with Sea of Trees, starring Matthew McConnaughey. Todd Haynes, who was last in competition in Cannes with Velvet Goldmine, in 1998, returns with Carol, featuring a lesbian relationship between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Back in competition for a seventh time is another former winner, Italy’s Nanni Moretti, and leading a strong contingent of French contestants is Jacques Audiard, who’s been in competition three times before, including with A Prophet and Rust & Bone. Maïwenn, whose last film Polisse was co-written by this year’s Cannes opener Emmanuelle Bercot, won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2011, is another French film maker returning to competition.

The Un Certain Regard collection similarly includes some film makers familiar to Cannes, with British directors again conspicuous by their absence.

Even out of competition, many of the directors are festival favourites; Woody Allen will be premiering his new film, Irrational Man.

The only British film featuring as part of the official selection is Asif Kapadia’s documentary about Amy Winehouse – called Amy. But the BFI wasn’t disappointed at the poor British showing, insisting that many of the films, including Youth, The Lobster and Macbeth are UK co-productions.

The programmers say they’ll be adding another two to four films to the shortlist nearer the opening night, so there’s still a chance that Britain might be better represented. The likelihood, though, is that any directors who haven’t already been featured at the festival need not apply.




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