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Reading Your Way to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival

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The highly secretive and anticipated official lineup for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival was released yesterday, even if a few more films are sure to be added to the program before the opening on May 17th. As usual, there are a certain number of films inspired by, or adapted directly from books, and this year the choices spanned many genres, from novels, narrative non-fiction, short stories, to a graphic novel and a manga. Moreover, two films in the Un Certain Regard category should be mentioned: Italian director Sergio Castellitto's Fortunata (Lucky) was written by his wife, the Irish-Italian author and actress Margaret Mazzantini--Castellitto already adapted one of Mazzantini's novels to film Non ti muovere (Don't Move). Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (Before we vanish) is based on a play written by Tomohiro Maekawa. It is interesting to note that both France and Germany have initiatives with publishers to present books to film professionals for adaptations. Shoot the Book organizes events and partnerships to promote film and TV adaptations from books, while Books at Berlinale presents literary works to film producers at the Berlinale film festival that are thought to be perfect for the screen. To get a head start on the Cannes film festival, below is a list of books that inspired this year's films present at the event, and that will be released over the next year:

Based on a True Story

A late addition to the Cannes Film festival line-up, Roman Polanski's adaptation of Delphine De Vigan's Based on a True Story stars Eva Green and Polanski's wife, the actress Emmanuelle Seigner. De Vigan's book written in French, won the Prix Renaudot 2015 and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens 2015. It is a psychological thriller based on a true story about a friendship that becomes toxic and the lines between fact and fiction and reality and artifice become blurred. 

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You Were Never Really Here (Film Tie-in)

Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's thriller in competition starring Joaquin Phoenix, You Were never Really Here, is an adaptation of Jonathan Ames's novel. It follows the story of Joe, whose abusive childhood has left him beyond repair. A former FBI agent and Marine, he earns a living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade. Hired to save the daughter of a New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy. 

How To Talk To Girls At Parties

American actor, writer and director John Cameron Mitchell's out of competition film How to Talk to Girls at Parties, starring Nicole Kidman, is adapted from Neil Gaiman's graphic novel paired with artwork by the Eisner Award-winning duo Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Gaiman's ENN is a fifteen-year-old boy who doesn't understand girls, while his friend Vic appears to know better. Both teenagers are in for the shock when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls are far from what they seem.  

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The beguiled movie tie-in

In competition, Sofia Coppola's film, The Beguiled, is adapted from Thomas Cullinan's eponymous novel, a Southern Gothic classic published in 1966, which was already made into a film starring Clint Eastwood in 1970. It tells the story of an injured Union soldier found in the woods during the Civil War. He is brought to a seminary for Young Ladies in Virginia, where the over-protected girls and their teachers are thrilled by the soldier's arrival. But his presence also triggers rivalry, jealousy and, ultimately, vengeance.

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Blade of the Immortal

Born to Korean parents in Japan, filmmaker Takashi Miike's Mugen No Jūnin (Blade of the Immortal) is out of competition and inspired by the manga by Hiroaki Samura. The story plot follows the character Manji, whose younger sister is killed in front of him. He decides to take revenge. A mysterious woman appears in front of Manji giving him eternal youth and immortality. Another character Rin Asano’s parents are killed by the swordsmen group Itto ryu. To avenge her parents' death, she asks Manji to be her guard. Rin and Manji begin their fight against Itto ryu

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A Prayer Before Dawn

French director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire's A Prayer Before Dawn in the Midnight Screenings category is adapted from Billy Moore's true account of his heroin addiction in the UK to becoming a professional competitor in Muay Thai boxing in Thailand. The dark world of addiction and horrific conditions within the notorious 'Bangkok Hilton' prison are part of his journey to rejoining life.

A gentle creature and other stories

Also in competition, Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa's A Gentle Creature is inspired by a short story by Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky explores in this collection of stories both the figure of the dreamer divorced from reality and also his own ambiguous attitude to utopianism, themes central to many of his great novels. A Gentle Creature shows how such withdrawal from reality can end in spiritual desolation and moral indifference and how, in Dostoevsky's view, the tragedy of the alienated individual can be resolved only by the rediscovery of a sense of compassion and responsibility towards fellow human beings. 

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Great Stories By Chekhov

Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev's Posoki (Directions) was written by Simeon Ventsislavov and Komandarev but is a free interpretation of Anton Chekhov's short story Misery, Komandarev said in an interview. In Misery, Chekhov describes the overwhelming grief felt by a sleigh-driver (Komandarev uses a taxi) who has lost his son, and his attempts to express his sorrow with his passengers.

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Todd Haynes' film in competition, Wonderstruck, is taken from the book by Brian Selznick. The film will be set in in two different time periods focussing on two children. Part of the film will be silent. Selznick's book tells the story of Ben, which takes place in 1977 and is told in words, and Rose, which takes place in 1927 and is told entirely in pictures. About loss and loneliness, both children risk everything to find what they are missing. 

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Un an après

Last but not least, French director Michel Hazanavicius's Le Redoutable, in competition, is adapted from French author and actress Anne Wiazemsky's Un an après, a fictionalized account of her marriage to Jean-Luc Godard, from 1967 to 1979.  

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Top photo © Bronx (Paris). Photo: Claudia Cardinale © Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

Olivia is a Paris-based journalist and editor.


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