After months of speculation, prediction and supposition, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has made it official: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" will indeed screen on the Croisette in May.
The Brad Pitt/Sean Penn drama, which at one point was thought to be a possibility for last year's Cannes, will screen in competition, putting it in the running for the festival's marquee prize, the Palme d'Or.
Also screening at the festival will be more films by women than ever before, plus an array of films by internationally-celebrated directors that include Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In," the Dardenne Brothers' "The Kid With a Bike" and Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia."
The announcement of 49 films in the official selection was made in Paris on Thursday morning by festival chief Thierry Fremaux. Additional programming will be announced in upcoming days.
The main competition and the Un Certain Regard section both currently consist of 19 films, though additions can still be made. Four female directors — Naomi Kawase, Julia Leigh, Maiwenn (Le Besco) and Lynne Ramsay — will be represented in the main competition, which Cannes organizers said is a record for the festival. (Last year, not a single female director was in competition.)
Out-of-competition screenings, which are generally the only spot at Cannes where Hollywood major-studio films appear, include a pair of quintessentially mainstream Hollywood blockbusters-to-be: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Kung Fu Panda 2."
Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," starring Mel Gibson, will also screen out of competition.
Earlier, the festival announced that Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" will serve as Cannes' opening-night attraction, and that Gus Van Sant's "Restless" will open the Un Certain Regard section.
While last year's Cannes lineup was widely regarded as subpar, the 2011 slate has been eagerly anticipated, with an unusually large number of top directors in the running for slots.
The lineup will also provide Cannes with a steady diet of stars to counterbalance the occasionally forbidding auteurs. Among the actors who may make the trip to support their films are Sean Penn ("The Tree of Life" and "This Must Be the Place"), Brad Pitt ("The Tree of Life"), Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz ("Pirates of the Caribbean"), Antonio Banderas ("The Skin I Live In"), Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan ("Drive"), Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene"), Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"), Mia Wasikowska ("Restless") and Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams ("Midnight in Paris").
Films that were considered possible selections but did not make the list include David Cronenberg's "Dangerous Method," Dominik Moll's "The Monk" and "Dogtooth" director Giorgos Lanthimos' "Alps."
The festival will also screen a restored version of the 1970 film "Puzzle of a Downfall Child," with star Faye Dunaway and director Jerry Schatzberg in attendance. Schatzberg took the photo of Dunaway that graces this year's Cannes poster (above) while he was making the film.
Robert De Niro will serve as president of the main Cannes jury this year. Other jury chiefs include Korean directors Bong Joon-ho (the Camera d'or Jury) and Lee Chang-dong (Critics Week juries), Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski (co-chief of the Critics Week juries), French writer-director Michel Gondry (short film and Cinefondation juries) and Bosnian director Emir Kusturica (Un Certain Regard jury).
The festival begins on May 11 with an opening ceremony that will include a presentation of an honorary Palme d'Or to director Bernardo Bertolucci, and continues through May 22.
The lineup …
"L'Apollonide," Bertrand Bonello
"Drive," Nicolas Winding Refn
"Footnote," Joseph Cedar
"Harakiri," Takashi Miike
"Hazenu no Tsuki," Naomi Kawase
"Le Havre," Aki Kaurismaki
"The Kid With the Bike," Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
"Melancholia," Lars Von Trier
"Michael," Markus Schleinzer
"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," Nuri Bilge Ceylan
"Parterre," Alain Cavalier
"The Skin I Live In," Pedro Almodovar
"Sleeping Beauty," Julia Leigh
"La source des femmes," Radu Mihaileanu
"This Must Be the Place," Paolo Sorrentino
"The Tree of Life," Terrence Malick
"We Have a Pope," Nanni Moretti
"We Need to Talk About Kevin," Lynne Ramsay
Un Certain Regard:
"Ariang," Kim Ki-Duk
"Bonsai," Christian Jiminez
"The Day He Arrives," Hong Sang-soo
"Et maintenant, on va ou ?," Nadine Labaki
"Halt auf freier Strecke," Andreas Dresen
“Hors Satan,” Bruno Dumont
"The Hunter," Bakur Bakuradze
"L'exercise de l'Etat," Pierre Schoeller
"Loverboy," Catalin Mitulescu
“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Sean Durkin
"Miss Bala," Gerardo Naranjo
"Les neiges du Kilimandjaro," Robert Guediguian
"Oslo, August 31," Joachim Trier
“Restless,” Gus Van Sant
"Skoonheid," Oliver Hermanus
"Tatsumi," Eric Khoo
"Toomelah," Ivan Sen
"Travailler fatigue," Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
"Yellow Sea," Na Hong-jin
"The Artist," Michel Hazanavicius
"The Beaver," Jodie Foster
“La conquête,” Xavier Durringer
"Kung Fu Panda 2," Jennifer Yuh
"Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," Rob Marshall
"Labrador," Frederikke Aspock
"Le maitre des forges de l'enfer," Rithy Panh
"Un documentarie sur Michel Petrucciani," Michael Radford
"Tous au Larzac," Christian Rouaud