By Joey Nolfi
April 12, 2018 at 08:59 AM EDT
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images; CHRISTOPHE D YVOIRE/Sygma via Getty Images

New films from Spike Lee, Chinese filmmaking visionary Jia Zhang-ke, and esteemed French directing icon Jean-Luc Godard will dock on the beaches of Cannes next month.

The long-running festival announced Thursday the first round of films that will compete for its annual awards, including the esteemed Palme d’Or — widely regarded as one of the highest honors in the global film industry. Eighteen titles were revealed upon the initial announcement, though more films — including Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built — are expected to join in the weeks ahead.

Among American directors premiering their latest work at the festival is David Robert Mitchell, whose Andrew Garfield-starring mystery Under the Silver Lake will go toe-to-toe with Atlanta native Lee’s BlacKkKlansman — inspired by the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a pioneering black police officer from Colorado Springs who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1978 — produced by Jordan Peele and starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace.

Godard, whose last narrative Goodbye to Language also debuted at Cannes, returns to Cannes this year with The Image Book. Little is known about the specifics of the film, though its IMDB description simply reads, “Nothing but silence. Nothing but a revolutionary song. A story in five chapters like the five fingers of a hand.”

Only three films directed by women made the 2018 Cannes lineup: returning competitor Alice Rohrwacher’s Lazzaro Felice, Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun, and Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum.

As it stands, Netflix — which had two films in competition last year — is not represented in the lineup. In a controversial move, following outcry from French theater exhibitors, Cannes made the decision last year to ban films that do not commit to a wide release strategy in the region. Netflix responded Wednesday by announcing that it will not screen its films in or out of competition at this year’s festival.

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux commented on Netflix’s stance during Thursday’s press conference, noting that it was a “shame” for the company to back out of this year’s edition, but he remained hopeful for a future relationship as a result of a “constructive dialogue with Netflix, contrary to appearances.” Per Deadline, he also noted that Netflix is “welcome in Cannes.”

Cannes Film Festival

Titles that premiered on the Croisette last year include Bong Joon-ho’s Netflix drama Okja, Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

This year’s competition titles will be judged by a jury headed by Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett. Award categories include those for acting, screenwriting, directing, and a special jury prize, among others.

While it is arguably the most prestigious film festival in the world, Cannes’ place on the festival circuit largely exists unto itself. It has stoked the Oscar fire for past competition titles in the acting races (recently Isabelle Huppert’s Elle and Ruth Negga’s Loving in 2016) and the foreign language contest (last year’s Palme d’Or champion The Square and Russian competition title Loveless competed for Academy attention in the category), but the festival largely functions as a buyers’ market and showcase for the latest projects from the world’s most respected filmmakers.

Though Cannes typically hosts smaller, auteur-driven international fare as part of its competitive slate, it’s also a hotbed of celebrity activity thanks to high profile galas and world premieres for commercial blockbusters outside the main competition. This year, Disney will launch its Star Wars standalone Solo on May 15 — 10 days before the Ron Howard-directed space epic hits theaters on May 25. Past tentpoles that have bowed at Cannes include Warner Bros.’ eventual Oscar juggernaut Mad Max: Fury Road and Pixar’s animated hit Inside Out. 

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language thriller Everybody Knows starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem was previously announced as the 2018 festival’s opening night film. The project will launch the long-running event’s 71st edition in competition on May 8. The festival runs through May 19. Read on for the full 2018 lineup.

Main competition:
Everybody Knows — Asghar Farhadi (opening night film)
At War — Stéphane Brize
Dogman — Matteo Garrone
Le Livre d’Image — Jean-Luc Godard
Asako I & II — Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Sorry Angel — Christophe Honoré
Girls of the Sun — Eva Husson
Ash Is Purest White — Jia Zhang-Ke
Shoplifters — Hirokazu Kore-eda
Capernaum — Nadine Labaki
Burning — Lee Chang-Dong
BlacKKKlansman — Spike Lee
Under the Silver Lake — David Robert Mitchell
Three Faces — Jafar Panahi
Cold War — Pawel Pawlikowski
Lazzaro Felice — Alice Rohrwacher
Yomeddine — A.B. Shawky
Leto (L’Été) — Kirill Serebrennikov

Un Certain Regard
Angel Face — Vanessa Filho
Border — Ali Abbasi
El Angel — Luis Ortega
Euphoria — Valeria Golino
Friend — Wanuri Kahiu
The Gentle Indifference of the World — Adilkhan Yerzhanov
Girl — Lukas Dhont
The Harvesters — Etienne Kallos
In My Room — Ulrich Köhler
Little Tickles — Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer
My Favorite Fabric — Gaya Jiji
On Your Knees, Guys (Sextape) — Antoine Desrosières
Sofia — Meyem Benm’Barek

Out of competition
Solo: A Star Wars Story — Ron Howard
Le Grand Bain — Gilles Lellouche
Little Tickles — Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer
Long Day’s Journey Into Night — Bi Gan

Midnight
Arctic — Joe Penna
The Spy Gone North —Yoon Jong-Bing

Special screenings
10 Years in Thailand — Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol & Apichatpong Weerasethakul
The State Against Mandela and the Others — Nicolas Champeaux & Gilles Porte
O Grande Circo Mistico — Carlo Diegues
Dead Souls — Wang Bing
To the Four Winds — Michel Toesca
La Traversée — Romain Goupil
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word — Wim Wenders

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