US actor Matthew McConaughey poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film "Interstellar" in London on October 29, 2014.
Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images
By Daniel D'Addario
May 13, 2015

The Cannes Film Festival began today in France, and it’s already dominating movie-lovers’ conversations the world over. Tomorrow, Mad Max: Fury Road will screen there in anticipation of its May 15 release. But Cannes isn’t, or isn’t entirely, about big budgets and big stars.

Here are some of the biggest pieces of news to have emerged so far.

  • The Sea of Trees, the latest film by My Own Private Idaho director Gus Van Sant, has been acquired by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as an American journeying to Japan’s “Suicide Forest.” IndieWire has the first clip from the film.
  • Lionsgate also acquired Genius, a film starring Colin Firth as the book editor Max Perkins; Jude Law appears as Thomas Wolfe, and Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney also appear. These acquisitions represent an ambitious festival for Lionsgate, a studio known for its franchise fare (including The Hunger Games and Divergent series) and past Academy Awards success stories like Crash.
  • The news out of Cannes isn’t just about art flicks: The festival also plays host to a film market where the right to distribute less studiously classy projects are sold. One of the first of those is Ratchet and Clank, a CGI film that will star Paul Giamatti and John Goodman. It’s based on a PlayStation game, the sort of adaptation that has historically had mixed results. (For every Tomb Raider, there’s a Super Mario Bros.)
  • And, of course, some of the films being promoted at Cannes don’t even exist yet. The long-awaited Maria Callas biopic, now to be directed by Whale Rider‘s Niki Caro, has a first promotional image in advance of its filming. Noomi Rapace, of Prometheus and the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo franchise, certainly looks the part.
  • Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, both of whom have won acting awards at Cannes in past years, will be appearing together in a newly-announced biopic of Pablo Escobar, one that will be distributed by French company EuropaCorp. Perhaps it’ll screen at the festival this time next year.

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