Cannes Film Festival has origins dating back to World War II that make it a direct and integral part of world history. The festival can make or break a film’s success well before it even reaches theaters, acting as a sort of cultural authority in determining what could potentially be Hollywood’s next big hit. Classic films like 1976’s Taxi Driver and the 1994 cult-classic Pulp Fiction would debut at Cannes and win the Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest award, before going on to cement their place in cinematic history. The festival was sadly cancelled last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many filmmakers to change their plans while movie theaters also remained closed and film’s couldn’t be formally released. Cannes Film Festival is back this year however, and one studio is starting to spend big before it even begins: MGM has picked up the distribution rights to the Sean Penn-directedfilm set to debut at Cannes this July, Flag Day.
Flag Day is set to be an adaptation of Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life, her personal experience of growing up at the hands of a life-long criminal. More specifically it examines the aftermath of this experience, detailing Jennifer’s life following her father’s last known attempted arrest in 1995 before ultimately disappearing into the criminal underworld and letting his family pick up the pieces he left behind. The story sounds promising for any fan of the true crime genre, so much promise that MGM already acquired the project’s North American distribution rights a month before it could even debut at Cannes. This is certainly relieving for Penn who not only directed the project but also appears alongside his son Dylan Penn in the film, making this a family affair for the veteran filmmaker. They make up just a small portion of the impressive cast that includes the likes of Josh Brolin, Dale Dickey and Eddie Marsan among many others.
Sean Penn made his debut at Cannes exactly 30 years ago this year with the 1991 film The Indian Runner, seemingly making this the perfect time for the filmmaker to return to the festival. He seemingly realized that though and really put his best into this one, highlighted by MGM’s Film Group Chairman Michael Deluca’s glowing review: “We were immediately captivated by Sean’s film – the outstanding performances from the entire cast lead of course by Dylan and Sean, Jennifer’s incredible life story, and the great care the entire filmmaking team took in bringing this true tale to the big screen after many years of willing it to be told.” High praise certainly, but not totally surprising for someone who has nearly half a century’s worth of experience in the film industry. Flag Day is set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month and will hit theaters towards the end of this year.