Spielberg and Foster top list of stars at Cannes

Hollywood stars turned directors Jodie Foster and Sean Penn have both agreed to show their latest films at the Cannes film festival in May 2016

Paris (AFP) – Hollywood stars turned directors Jodie Foster and Sean Penn will show their latest films at the Cannes festival next month, organisers said Thursday.

Director Steven Spielberg will also unveil his version of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book “The BFG” (Big Friendly Giant) at the French festival, the biggest and most important in the movie calendar.

Foster’s Wall Street thriller “Money Monster” stars George Clooney while Penn’s former girlfriend Charlize Theron is the lead in his love story set among aid workers in Africa, “The Last Face”.

Women directors have their best showing for years in the main competition, with three among the 20 competing for the Palme d’Or led by Britain’s Andrea Arnold, whose “American Honey” stars maverick American actor Shia LaBeouf in a film about the macho culture of a sales team.

Cannes has been repeatedly criticised for being a “boy’s club” with no women at all selected in 2012.

The festival’s feminist credentials took another battering last year when it emerged that women were banned from its glamorous red carpet premieres for not wearing high heels.

Both Jodie Foster and Spielberg are showing their films outside of Cannes’ main competition in a year which is not short of Hollywood stardust.

The paparazzi will have their hands full with “Twilight” superstar Kristen Stewart in two films and Ryan Gosling and “Star Wars” actor Adam Driver also on the Croisette.

– Scandal-hit Almodovar –

After his years in the wilderness following the critical mauling of “Showgirls”, “Total Recall” director Paul Verhoeven is returning to the competition for the first time since 1992, when his “Basic Instinct” set pulses racing.

Despite a controversy raging in Spain over Pedro Almodovar being named in the Panama Papers leak, the organisers included his new film “Julieta” in the main competition.

The Spanish director — a leftwinger known for his support of environmental causes — cancelled a press conference last week to promote the story of a girl who disappears for a decade, and did not show up at another event in Barcelona.

The official selection is full of major surprises and Cannes regulars, with veteran British director Ken Loach making the final cut despite rumours that his “I, Daniel Blake” might not make it.

The biggest surprise was the absence of two-time Cannes winner Serbian master Emir Kusturica, whose “On the Milky Road” stars Monica Bellucci.

Festival chief Thierry Fremaux said: “We know the risks we are taking and risks sometimes end in pain, but we liked (these films) and we want to share them with you because we think they are important.”

The festival runs in the French Riviera resort from May 11 to 22.