Cannes 2012: Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' to open fest
For the second year in a row, the Cannes Film Festival is opening with an American comedy: The festival has announced that Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" will kick off the annual cinephile gathering May 16.
Unlike last year's opener of Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," however, this year's film will come from a director who's never brought a feature to the Croisette. Anderson, the Texas-raised auteur known for offbeat comedies such as "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," typically opens films in the fall and brings them to late-summer and early autumn film confabs. Focus Features brings out "Moonrise" on May 25 in the U.S., with the film coming out in France the same week as its Cannes bow.
Set in the 1960's, "Kingdom" centers on two young lovers who run away, with the small town they left behind in a tizzy about their disappearance.
Anderson mainstays Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman star in "Moonrise Kingdom," as do Anderson newbies Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. The young couple is played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
The opening-night slot proved golden for "Midnight," which turned out to be a huge crossover hit. This year, world cinema observers will be keen to see how the Europeans react to Anderson's dry, often absurdist wit, though the local press will no doubt be enthralled by the large number of stars who can walk the opening-night carpet.
Anderson is coming off a somewhat odd career stretch, most recently making a foray into animation with "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and previously directing the tepidly received India travel tale "The Darjeeling Limited."
In a statement, Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux announced that "Wes Anderson is one of the rising powers of American cinema, to which he brings a highly personal touch, particularly in 'Moonrise Kingdom,' which once again is a testimony to the creative freedom in which he continues to evolve. Sensitive and independent, this admirer of Fellini and Renoir is also in his own right a brilliant and inventive filmmaker."
The Cannes Film Festival runs through May 27, and this year is also expected to include a roster of other renowned U.S. filmmakers. The full slate will be announced April 19.
Photo: Bruce Willis in "Moonrise Kingdom." Credit: Focus Features