7 must-see films from Cannes Film Festival


Photo courtesy of @thesweeteast on Instagram

Participating in the Palme d’Or competition at the Cannes Film Festival, “The Sweet East” (directed by Sean Price Williams) is a sweeping and dynamic drama starring Talia Ryder, Earl Cave and Simon Rex.

By George Chang, Features Editor

Founded on September 20, 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has been a curator of taste and a harbinger of film trends for actors, directors and cinephiles all around the world. Along with its prestigious Palme d’Or competition, it also features “Un Certain Regard,” “Out of Competition,” and “Cinéfondation” films for audience viewing. While the festival’s main purpose is to celebrate cinema in its various forms, it is also oftentimes referred to as a major networking event, with filmmakers hoping that their films will be picked up by distributors, publicists and financiers. The movies that catch the attention of these industry giants often play a role in next year’s award season. The Cannes Film Festival is running from May 16 to May 27; here are the films to look out for.

About Dry Grasses (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
As a director, Ceylan’s films usually tackle themes of existentialism and monotony with long takes and natural sets. “About Dry Grasses,” which is his fifth movie, manages to encapsulate his signature style by telling a story about a young teacher from Turkey’s dreams and how quickly they can shatter. Through a cinematographic three hours, Ceylan thoroughly explores the concepts of power dynamics and pseudo-intellectualism.

Asteroid City (dir. Wes Anderson)
Like most Wes Anderson films, “Asteroid City” is filled with whimsical plots and pastel palettes that overlay deeper, darker themes. Here, Anderson creates a ‘50s American desert town, where a fantastic ensemble cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hanks, gather at a Junior Stargazer convention. Blurring a myriad of genres, such as science fiction, romance and comedy-drama, it is another win for Anderson’s distinct and acclaimed filmography.

Four Daughters (dir. Kaouther Ben Hania)
This docu-drama from Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania is a touching and layered documentary, where Hania invites professional actresses to replace the missing daughters of a Tunisian mother, Olfa. While it primarily focuses on mother-daughter relationships and the weight of family, the film also provides thoughtful insights about the impact of the Islamic State on Tunisia. Overall, “Four Daughters” is a daring and experimental work of art that offers a glimpse into the realities of Tunisian women.

La Chimera (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)
Alice Rohrwacher—an Italian filmmaker that specializes in magical realism and neorealism—offers her third film, “La Chimera,” an eccentric blend of fairytale naturalism and biting political commentary. With a plot centering around an Englishmen—“with a preternatural ability to connect with the land”—finding himself in kahoots with tomb raiders who “steal Etruscan artifacts,” it is sure to be a twisting journey through Italian folklore.

May December (dir. Tom Haynes)
Tom Haynes is known for his unique style of characterizing complex celebrities through a gendered and feminist lens. In “May December,” Haynes shifts his focus to a tension-filled psychological drama about cross-generational relationships, tabloid scandals and an actress-turned-reporter. Starring Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman and Charles Melton of “Riverdale” fame, “May December” proves to be a complex yet camp film that provides intense character studies of an uncomfortable relationship.

Perfect Days (dir. Wim Wenders)
Wim Wenders—a distinguished artist that has created work in the fields of film, writing, photography, dance and more—is the director of “Perfect Days,” a meditative and ambient film about a toilet cleaner who lives in Tokyo named Hirayama. Centering the movie around Hirayama’s character, whether it be his mysterious past or his joyous fondness for trees, it reveals the complicated memories that lurk beneath Hirayama’s seemingly content lifestyle.

The Sweet East (dir. Sean Price Williams)
The fifth film from American director Sean Price Williams, “The Sweet East” perfectly captures Williams’ cinematographer background and his experience in both fiction and documentary. Through beautiful shots of contemporary America, a sense of restlessness permeates the movie with various cults that compete to win a young woman over. A dynamic cast with both established and up-and-coming actors and actresses such as Jacob Elordi, Ayo Edibiri and Simon Rex, this thriller-odyssey examines the ideological sects that are spread all over America.