Ken Loach back in competition in Cannes for a 14th time

The organisers of the Cannes Film Festival have announced the bulk of their official selection for next month’s event, with many festival favourites making a return.

Ken Loach makes his 14th appearance in competition in Cannes with an attack on zero hours contracts in Sorry We Missed You.

Coming out of purported retirement – again – the British director Ken Loach will be back on the Croisette for a 14th time; after winning the Palme d’Or with I, Daniel Blake, his recent evisceration of the British benefits system, he’s turning his attention to zero hours contracts in Sorry We Missed You.

But he’s far from the only Cannes regular in the running for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Belgium’s Dardenne Brothers, who – like Loach – have won the top prize twice, are back in competition in Cannes for an 8th time with The Young Ahmed.

Having previously won the best director and best screenplay prizes, Pedro Almodóvar will make his 6th attempt to win the top prize with Pain And Glory.

It’s also 6th time in competition for Frenchman Arnaud Desplechin, with Oh Mercy!

40 years after his first time in competition in Cannes, the reclusive American auteur Terrence Malick is back for a third time with his World War II film A Hidden Life, having collected the Palme d’Or on his previous visit, in 2011, with Tree of Life.

Italy’s Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor marks his 7th time in the official competition.

Bong Joon-ho, whose Netflix-produced Okja caused a storm two years ago, is back with Parasite.

At the tender age of 30, Canada’s Xavier Dolan has already had a feature in the Directors’ Fortnight strand and two features in the Un Certain Regard sidebar and with Matthias & Maxime will be making his third challenge for the Palme d’Or in the official competition.

The Palestinian director Elia Suleiman has twice been in competition in Cannes before, as well as having another film in Un Certain Regard. The French-Canadian co-production It Must Be Heaven will be his third stab at the top prize.

This is the second time Brazil’s Kleber Mendonça Filho has been in the running for the Palme d’Or. Three years after Aquarius, he’s screening Nighthawk.

Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw star in Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe.

Austria’s Jessica Hausner has had three previous features in Un Certain Regard but Little Joe – part-funded in the UK – will be her first stab at the top prize.

The Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu is also no stranger to Cannes. Having screened two films at Un Certain Regard, he’s back with his first film in the Official Competition, The Whistlers.

The Wild Goose Lake is China’s Diao Yi’nan’s first time in the official competition at Cannes, but he was involved in Un Certain Regard in 2007.

2007 was also the year the French director Céline Sciamma screened her coming-of-age, coming out drama Water Lilies in Un Certain Regard. Now she’s back in the official competition with Portrait of a Lady on Fire. She’s one of many of this year’s directors who’ve also had films in contention, in previous years, for the Queer Palme award, honouring films featuring LGBT storylines.

This is the first time at Cannes for the American director Ira Sachs, a veteran of festivals including Berlin, Sundance and Edinburgh. He’s screening a French, Belgian and Portuguese co-production, Frankie, in competition.

Making her debut in the official selection at Cannes is the French actress and director Mati Diop, with Atlantique.

Another French woman Justine Triet is also making her first appearance at Cannes with her competition entry, Sibyl.

And a third French director, Ladj Ly, is screening his first feature, Les Misérables, in the Cannes competition. It’s based on his earlier short film about riots in the Paris suburbs.

This year’s selection is particularly strong for the UK, with two films – Loach’s Sorry We Missed You and Hausner’s Little Joe – being co-funded by the BFI and the BBC.

The BFI’s Ben Roberts said he was incredibly proud to have two films in competition. “As European co-productions, they are also brilliant examples of what can be achieved through our vital creative and economic partnerships with Europe,” he added. And the director of BBC Films, Rose Garnett, said she was thrilled for everyone involved in the two films, adding, “Cannes is one of the great platforms for world cinema and it’s fantastic to see two brilliant British films made with our international partners take centre stage.”

Along with the previously announced opening film, the zombie comedy, The Dead Don’t Die, from Jim Jarmusch – himself in competition for the eighth time – nineteen films have now been announced in the competition, but Cannes often adds another film or two to the final line-up closer to the opening night, which means there could still be room to squeeze in the highly anticipated new film from Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which some commentators had predicted would premiere at Cannes, 25 years after Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or.

So the lesson from the Croisette this year appears to be that if you want your film to be in the running for the Palme d’Or, you need either to have had a film in the Official Competition or Un Certain Regard before, or to be French.

But it’s not all about the Official Competition, or indeed Un Certain Regard. The Cannes programmers also screen a handful of films out of competition, and this is often where the more commercial productions can be seen. This year, the list includes Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher’s biopic of Sir Elton John, the latest film from Amy and Senna director Asif Kapadia, who’s turned his attention to Diego Maradona and the opening of a new Amazon web TV series from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, Too Old To Die Young.