Emmanuelle Bercot’s La Tete Haute, a Boyhood-resembling “dramatic comedy” (according to Allocine) about the life of a maladjusted kid from ages 6 to 18, has been chosen to open the 68th Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, 5.13. The French-produced film, which 5000 journalists are now investigating in an attempt to discern Thierry Fremaux‘s reason for picking it, will be the first female-directed film to open Cannes in 28 years, or since Diane Kurys’ A Man in Love kicked things off in ’87.
As Variety‘s Justin Chang has noted, most opening-night films have been announced before April, and if you ask me it’s always a bit of an “uh-oh” when a first-nighter is finalized this late in the game. Wong Kar Wai‘s My Blueberry Nights, a total Cannes flop when it opened the ’07 festival, and Fernando Mierelles‘ Blindness, which underwhelmed almost everyone when it opened the following year’s festival, were announced in April.
Chang further notes that “it hasn’t yet been decided” if La Tete Haute (which translates as either “heads up” or “head held high”) will premiere in or out of competition. In other words questions about whether the film will be regarded by the Cannes community as a serious competition entry is a subject of some internal debate. (Is there another way to interpret this uncertainty?)
Chang also reports that Bercot “may be doing double duty at this year’s Cannes: She’s also starring in Maiwenn’s Mon Roi, a French film widely expected to premiere in the official selection.” What does that tell you? What does it suggest?
Not all filmmakers are afraid of the opening-night stigma but many are, I’ve heard. During a Moonrise Kingdom press conference in 2012, director Wes Anderson recounted a conversation he’d had in Paris with a sophisticated French-born cineaste about Kingdom having been chosen as the festival’s opener. “Competition is better,” the cineaste replied. “It is better to be in competition.”