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Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Schraderr: 'New Hollywood' swansong set for Cannes Film Festival

Half a century later, Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Schrader will compete head-to-head for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or with their new films "Megalopolis" and "Oh Canada", while George Lucas receives an honorary award for his blockbuster career

Published: May 10, 2024 11:19:31 AM IST
Updated: May 10, 2024 12:31:32 PM IST

Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Schraderr: 'New Hollywood' swansong set for Cannes Film FestivalFrancis Ford Coppola is one of several Hollywood heavyweights set to attend the Cannes film festival. Image credit: ANGELA WEISS / AFP©

It is an offer they still can't refuse: Francis Ford Coppola will lead a parade of veteran American movie titans back to the Cannes Film Festival next week in a likely swansong for the "New Hollywood" generation.

The director of "The Godfather" will be joined by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and "Taxi Driver" writer Paul Schrader on the French Riviera for the world's most famous film gathering, where all three men enjoyed success in their 1970s heyday.

Half a century later, Coppola and Schrader will compete head-to-head for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or with their new films "Megalopolis" and "Oh Canada", while Lucas receives an honorary award for his blockbuster career.

"It does have the feeling of the old gunslinger coming back into town for one last showdown," said Hollywood historian Thomas Doherty.

"It's like an exclamation point on their careers," agreed veteran US movie journalist Tim Gray.

"Yes these guys are brand names, they're well known, but they're artists, and they're recognized by the film community around the world."

The trio were central figures in a pack of rebellious filmmakers, dubbed the "New Hollywood", who upended the staid Hollywood studio system in the 1970s.

It borrowed arthouse styles from the previous decade's French New Wave, along with its idea of the director as a visionary "auteur".

They also fundamentally changed the way films were funded -- most notably Coppola, who split from the traditional Hollywood studios and poured vast sums of his own money into colossal movies like "Apocalypse Now".

That film won Coppola one of his two Palmes d'Or, and he hopes lightning will strike for a record third time with "Megalopolis", another epic passion project that cost $120 million.

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Coppola, 85, sold part of his California winery estate to fund the movie, about the feud between two men struggling to rebuild a crumbling metropolis.

It does not yet have a major Hollywood distributor.

"I love that decision. Coppola is kind of brazen," said Gray, a former Variety editor who now serves as executive vice-president for the Golden Globes.

"As a filmmaker and as a showman, Coppola has always swung for the fences... he's defied career logic."

 'Adieu'

The presence of so many ageing American cinematic giants saying a potentially final "adieu" to Cannes is expected to be a deeply emotional and sentimental affair.

Lucas -- one of cinema's wealthiest and most famed directors of all time -- has received relatively few accolades in his native America.

But it was a screening of his dark sci-fi debut "THX 1138" at Cannes in 1971 that put him on the path to creating "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones".

With his return to the Croisette coming on his 80th birthday, Lucas "doesn't need money, he doesn't need anything," said Gray.

"But it is a kind of a recognition of him as an auteur."

And it will not just be the directors. Several stars who likewise broke through in the New Hollywood era will join them.

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Coppola's "Megalopolis" features Oscar-winning stalwarts Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, as well as Laurence Fishburne, who appeared as a young teen in "Apocalypse Now".

Schrader -- whose "Taxi Driver" won the Palme d'Or in 1976 -- reunites with Richard Gere, decades on from "American Gigolo".

Gere plays a Vietnam War draft evader haunted by his past in "Oh Canada".

Meryl Streep, another key figure of the era for her parts in "The Deer Hunter" and "Manhattan", is also receiving an honorary Palme d'Or at the festival.

It promises to be an important final send-off, said Doherty: "We need to give them the final salute."

The 77th Cannes Film Festival begins next Tuesday, and runs until May 25.