Cannes Film Festival Adds Michel Hazanavicius, Mohammad Rasoulof Movies to Competition Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

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After announcing a whopping number of English-language films in competition, Cannes Film Festival has added some international titles: Michel Hazanavicius‘ animated feature “The Most Precious of Cargoes” and Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof‘s “The Seed of the Sacred Fig.”

An auteur-driven feature, “The Most Precious of Cargoes” is adapted from Jean-Claude Grumberg’s bestselling novel of the same name, set during World War II against the backdrop of the Holocaust. It will be the first animated feature to compete in more than a decade, since Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” in 2008.

The film is co-produced and represented internationally by Studiocanal, which also has Gilles Lellouche’s “Beating Hearts” in competition. “The Most Precious of Cargoes” is a passion project for Hazanavicius, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “The Artist,” who has been developing the project for years. Hazanavicius penned the script with Grumberg and created the drawings, with Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat providing the score. The drama intertwines the fate of a Jewish family, including newborn twins, who is arrested in Paris and deported to Auschwitz, with that of a poor and childless woodcutter couple living in the depths of a Polish forest. While on a train to the death camp, the young father puts one of his twins in a package and throws him out of the train, into the snow. The lonely woodcutter wife, whose sole distraction is to watch the trains pass by, comes across the package and discovers the child she was waiting for so fervently.

In a previous interview discussing the project with Variety, Hazanavicius said, “Grumberg’s tale succeeds in opposing the force of life to the industry of death, finding something beautiful to tell about [a period] that will forever remain a stain on the history of mankind.”

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“The Most Precious of Cargoes” is produced by Patrick Sobelman and Robert Guédiguian at France’s Ex Nihilo, as well as Florence Gastaud, Riad Sattouf and Hazanavicius at Les Compagnons de Cinéma. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are co-producing via their banner Les Films du Fleuve. Valérie Schermann’s animation company, The Animation Studio 3.0 (“The Red Turtle”), line-produced the film. Studiocanal will release it in France on Nov. 20. The voice cast is led by iconic French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, alongside Gregory Gadebois and Dominique Blanc.

Hazanavicius is a Cannes regular, having world premiered “The Artist” and “Redoutable” in competition in 2011 and 2017, respectively, and “Coupez!” on opening night in 2022.

Cannes Film Festival has also added “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” the latest film from Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who has presented previous films “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” and “A Man of Integrity” at Un Certain Regard. The plot of the film is under wraps. Rasoulof has been attacked by the Islamic Republic government in Iran, which barred him from traveling to Cannes last year where he had been invited to serve on the jury of Un Certain Regard. He had his passport confiscated by Iranian authorities after presenting “A Man of Integrity” at Telluride.

As unveiled on April 11, this year’s Cannes Film Festival will bring together several iconic filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola with “Megalopolis” starring Adam Driver, George Miller with “Furiosa” starring Anya Taylor-Joy, as well as George Lucas who will receive an honorary Palme d’Or. The 77th edition runs May 15-25.

Cannes Film Festival Adds Michel Hazanavicius, Mohammad Rasoulof Movies to Competition Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

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