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Ten Promising Projects to Watch for at the Cannes Market This Year

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! May 14, 2014 at 4:01PM

The Cannes Film Festival is open for business. Here are ten promising projects to look out for.
Tom Hanks in "Hologram for the King"
Tom Hanks in "Hologram for the King"

The Cannes Film Festival market is open for business. But without the now-defunct Focus Features International and troubled Exclusive Media on the Croisette this year, there are fewer projects up for grabs. Some of the market's most promising projects, however, have plenty of star wattage even without those deep-pocketed buyers of yesteryear. Assuming they actually get made.  But these films aren't big tentpoles, either.

Amy Adams

Paramount has closed the deal on pre-sale title "Story of Your Life," with "Prisoners" director Denis Villeneuve in talks to helm. Amy Adams will play a linguist tasked by the military to gauge the intentions of a group of crash-landed aliens. Her encounter with the E.T.s triggers long-buried traumas that elucidate their agenda, and propose an even greater mystery at work. Eric Heisserer, director of Paul Walker-starrer "The Hours," is attached to pen the script. The film will seek international buyers in the Marche du Film.

Speaking of star voltage, German director Tom Tykwer's next film starring Tom Hanks (whom he co-directed with the Wachowskis in "Cloud Atlas") will hit the market, and it's called "A Hologram for the King." Based on a Dave Eggers book, the comedy-drama centers on an American salesman sent to the Saudi Arabian desert on an elusive assignment. (First look above.)

Though Focus as we once knew it has folded, former Focus International co-president Alison Thompson debuts her new sales outfit, Sunray Films, at Cannes, where it will sell Vincent Perez's "Alone In Berlin." Based on the WWII-era novel by Hans Fallada, it stars Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl and Mark Rylance, with a script adapted by Achim von Borries ("Goodbye Lenin!") and Perez. Among the producers is, lo and behold, James Schamus, replaced by Peter Schlessel as Focus chief. How about that.

Highland Film Group will introduce international buyers to "The Trust," a police thriller starring Nicolas Cage and Jack Huston as crooked cops adrift in a world of criminal temptation, directed by Alex and Ben Brewer. As seen in "Bad Lieutenant," Nicolas Cage can do a bad cop well; Jack Huston, charming in "American Hustle" as Jennifer Lawrence's eventual love interest, played creepy half-faced Richard Harrow on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."

Adele Exarchopoulos
Adele Exarchopoulos

Studiocanal has two exciting projects on the Cannes docket. First, "Woman in Black" director James Watkins will helm "Bastille Day," an action thriller set in Paris starring a dream cast including Idris Elba and Adele Exarchopoulos. It will be produced by Vendome Pictures, and Anonymous Content, which worked on "True Detective."

Next up from Studiocanal, buyers will catch a promo reel of the new film, and first English-language narrative feature, from "I Am Love" director Luca Guadagnino. Set on the Mediterranean island Pantelleria, this "sexy thriller" stars Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts, and will shoot this summer in Italy. Apparently, a major US studio is coming on board, which Studiocanal will announce soon.

Annapurna's Megan Ellison
Annapurna's Megan Ellison

Eli Roth will direct Keanu Reeves, who hasn't done much horror since Coppola's "Dracula," in an erotic psycho-thriller called "Knock, Knock," where the life of a family man is upended by the arrival of two alluring young women, to be played by Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas. Roth cowrote the script with Nicolas Lopez and Guillermo Amoedo, writers on his upcoming fall release "The Green Inferno."

As we wrote previously, Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison is rebranding her foreign sales arm with a new film on the Cannes market: "American Express," starring Charlize Theron. Terrence Malick's long-awaited, and apparently most ambitious film, "Voyage of Time" will screen for buyers on the Croisette. And Lionsgate International will handle sales for Juan Antonio Bayona's creepy children's fantasy adaptation "A Monster Calls," a coproduction with Focus and Participant Media.

This article is related to: Annapurna, Festivals, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, Focus Features, Universal/Focus Features, James Schamus, Amy Adams, Tom Hanks, Tom Tykwer, Luca Guadagnino, Tilda Swinton, Adele Exarchopoulos, Idris Elba

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.