A peaceful town gets turned upside down in the Cannes Fest’s opening night out-of-competition film, The Dead Don’t Die, by American auteur Jim Jarmusch, when a mysterious horde of zombies come back to life and descend into the streets.
You might say the same for the sudden metamorphosis of Cannes , as throngs of film industry crowds and star-gawking tourists invade the Croisette for this year’s 72nd Film Festival, which will feature a selection of movies from 39 countries.
France is shining more brightly than ever this year with a whopping number of films and special events, from four French directors in the official line-up to the honorary Palme d’Or that will be awarded to veteran actor Alain Delon, who will also present a restored version of Joseph Losey’s classic, Mr. Klein. Out of competition screenings include the comedy La Belle Époque by Nicolas Bedos, starring Daniel Auteuil and Guillaume Canet  and The Best Years of a Life by Claude Lelouch, who reunites Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimée as an epilogue to his iconic A Man and A Woman, fifty years later.
All eyes are on 39-year-old maverick director Ladj Ly, hailed as the new French Spike Lee, whose social drama about an anti-crime brigade, Les Misérables, will compete with the likes of Pedro Almodovar and Ken Loach. Among other French entries are Oh Mercy! by Arnaud Desplechin, the much-awaited drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire directed by Céline Sciamma starring Adèle Haenel, and Sibyl by 31-year-old director Justine Triet, featuring Virginie Efira and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
Over at the Fortnight of Directors (open to both the general public and industry folks), Quentin Dupieux’s quirky drama Deerskin, starring Jean Dujardin , sets the mood for this parallel festival, which often showcases less-known young filmmakers.
For festival-goers with no official accreditation, all is not lost. You can stretch out on a deck chair (with a blanket for the sea breezes) at the open-air cinema on the sandy Plage Macé, which features a nightly program of classics and recent movies projected on a giant screen. Highlights include François Truffaut’s New Wave masterpiece, The 400 Blows, and the beloved 1994 French cult comedy La Cité de la Peur (Fear City), by Alain Berbérian, starring Alain Chabat. Expect other surprises, from concerts to a festive cinema karaoke launch reverberating all the down the Croisette .