Entertainment & Arts

First female director to kick off Cannes since 1987

Catherine Deneuve and Emmanuelle Bercot Image copyright AFP / Getty
Image caption La Tete Haute stars Catherine Deneuve (left) and is written and directed by Emmanuelle Bercot (right)

Emmanuelle Bercot's film La Tete Haute, starring Catherine Deneuve, will open the 68th Cannes film festival - the first female director to kick off the event since Diane Kurys in 1987.

The "bold and moving" story about a juvenile delinquent is also the first French language opener since 2005.

The past decade has favoured big star-laden movies such as The Great Gatsby and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

Organisers admitted the "different" choice "may seem surprising".

La Tete Haute follows the story of a young delinquent called Malony from childhood through to adulthood. A children's judge (Deneuve) and social worker try to save him from himself.

"It is a clear reflection of our desire to see the festival start with a different piece, which is both bold and moving," said Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux.

"Emmanuelle Bercot's film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focuses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes."

Image copyright Pascal Le Segretain
Image caption Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan opened the 2013 Cannes Film Festival with the premiere of their film The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Lurhmann

The world premiere will open the festival on 13 May, with the film released in French cinemas on the same day. The festival's full line-up, or official selection, will be revealed on Thursday 16 April.

Diane Kurys was the last female director to open the festival in 1987, with her film A Man in Love starring Peter Coyote and Greta Scacchi.

Bercot has a history of debuting her work at Cannes, having won the Jury Prize for her short film Les Vacances in 1997.

Her first feature film Clement - in which she plays the main character - made the Un Certain Regard official selection in 2001 and she also co-wrote the script for Maiwenn's Polisse which won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2011.

She has previously directed Deneuve in 2014's On my Way (Elle s'en va).

This year's Cannes jury is chaired by American directors Joel and Ethan Coen, while Isabella Rossellini chairs the Un Certain Regard category's jury. The festival runs from 13 to 24 May.

A special screening of Max Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy, has already been confirmed for 14 May.

Cannes Film Festival's opening films
Year Film Director Stars
2014 Grace of Monaco Olivier Dahan Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella
2013 The Great Gatsby Baz Lurhmann Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman
2011 Midnight in Paris Woody Allen Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody
2010 Robin Hood Ridley Scott Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett

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