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Crimes of the Future marks filmmaker David Cronenberg’s long-awaited return to the big screen.Nikos Nikolopoulos/Serendipity Point Films

Eight years after last playing the Croisette, David Cronenberg is heading back to the Cannes Film Festival with his hotly anticipated new movie Crimes of the Future. The film – the first that the Canadian director has helmed since his 2014 satire Maps to the Stars – will make its world premiere at the prestigious French festival next month, where it will compete for the Palme d’Or against new works by the likes of acclaimed international auteurs James Gray, Claire Denis, Ruben Ostlund, Kelly Reichardt and Hirokazu Kore-eda.

“It’s a thrill to return to Cannes for the premiere of Crimes of the Future, a film that grapples with universal questions, concerns and fears about our bodies, evolution and what some would deem the threat that technology poses to our humanity,” Cronenberg said in a statement. “I believe this is a film of our times and I look forward to its unveiling in one of the most prestigious theatres in the world.

Crimes of the Future – which shares a title with the director’s short 1970 film, but apparently little else – stars Cronenberg regular Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method) as the performance artist Saul Tenser who, alongside his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), “showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.” The pair are followed closely by the obsessive Timlin (Kristen Stewart), an investigator for the National Organ Registry, while at the same time a mysterious group surfaces that aims to bring about the “next phase of human evolution.”

Co-starring Canadians Scott Speedman, Don McKellar, Nadia Litz and Tanaya Beatty, the film marks Cronenberg’s long-awaited return to the big screen after the director previously mused about retiring in 2019. The filmmaker has since been keeping busy acting, though, with performances in the Niagara Falls-set thriller Disappearance at Clifton Hill, Mortensen’s own directorial effort Falling and the series Star Trek: Discovery and Slasher: Flesh and Blood.

Already, industry word-of-mouth is strong on Crimes of the Future, with the film being compared to Cronenberg’s provocative Crash, which shocked and awed Cannes 26 years ago, when it won the festival’s Special Jury Prize, an award delivered for “originality, for daring and for audacity.”

Crash was the last time David and I were in competition together in Cannes. That film electrified the Croisette, causing shock waves around the world and 25 years later, has become a cult classic,” producer Robert Lantos, who has now collaborated four times with the director, said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to an encore.”

Crimes of the Future, which will open in Canadian theatres in June via Sphere Films, is the only Canadian production premiering at the 75th edition of Cannes next month.

Other anticipated Cannes world premieres include the New York period drama Armageddon Time from American director James Gray (Ad Astra), starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway; the romantic thriller The Stars at Noon, from French filmmaker Claire Denis (High Life) starring Margaret Qualley; Kelly Reichardt’s character drama Showing Up starring frequent collaborator Michelle Williams; the “baby box” drama Broker, from Palme d’Or-winning Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters); and the celebrity satire Triangle of Sadness, starring Woody Harrelson and directed by Ruben Ostlund, whose previous film, the art-world-skewering comedy The Square, won the Palme in 2017.

The long-delayed Tom Cruise sequel Top Gun: Maverick, Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis and the fantasy-romance Three Thousand Years of Longing starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba from director George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) will also premiere at the festival, though out of competition.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 17 through May 28.

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