Dogman by Matteo Garrone will play in competition at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and will be released theatrically in Italy on May 17. A urban western inspired by the story of a bloodthirsty criminal known as “the dogman”, the film  is set in a suspended suburb between the city and the wild nature where the law of the strongest rules. Here lives a mild-manner man, Marcello (played by Marcello Fonte, known for Leonardo Di Costanzo’s The Intruder and Daniele Luchetti’s I Am Tempesta). His days are marked by his work at the pet-grooming shop, the love for his daughter Sofia, and an ambiguous subjection to Simoncino, a former boxer who terrorizes the neighborhood. After the umpteenth bullying, Marcello wants to reassert his dignity and sets up a revenge plan that will lead to an unexpected outcome. Back to Cannes three years after Tale of Tales, Garrone states: “Dogman is loosely inspired by a true crime story that took place thirty years ago, but I didn’t want to faithfully recreate those events by any means. I started writing the script twelve years ago: over time, I was going back to it, trying to adjust it to my personal changes. Finally, one year ago, I met the protagonist, Marcello Fonte. His great humanity helped me clarify how to deal with such a dark and violent story, and with the character I wanted to represent: a man who, in the attempt of redeeming himself after a life of humiliations, has the illusion of freeing not only himself, but also his neighborhood and maybe the whole world. But the world remains the same instead, and almost indifferent.”

Also in competition, Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro. Besides many non-professional actors, the cast includes Nicoletta Braschi, Alba Rohrwacher, and up-and-coming actors Adriano Tadioli and Luca Chikovani, this latter a singer, musician, and youtuber. The films tells the story of 20-year-old Lazzaro, a young peasant who is so kind that he might look stupid, and the equally-young Tancredi, who is spoilt by his imagination. Their friendship is true and has grown between secret plots and lies, it travelled through time and survived the shattering consequences of the Greatest Deception, finally taking Lazzaro to the big and empty city on the lookout for Tancredi. In the words of the director: “Happy as Lazzaro is the story of a small sanctity without miracles, superpowers or special effects – the sanctity of being in the world and not thinking badly of anyone, but simply believing in the human beings. It tells the possibility of kindness who has always being ignored by men, but that comes back and interrogates them with a smile.” The film is produced by Carlo Cresto-Dina for Tempesta with Rai Cinema, Amka Films Productions, Ad Vitam Production and Pola Pandora Filmproduktion.

In the Un Certain Regard section, the sophomore feature by Valeria Golino, Euphoria, starring Riccardo Scamarcio, Valerio Mastandrea, Isabella Ferrari, Valentina Cervi, Jasmine Trinca, and Francesco Borgese. The film tells the story of Matteo, a successful entrepreneur, both unscrupulous and charming. His brother Ettore lives in the small province town where they were born. He is a middle-school teacher, a wary and honest man who, just to be sure, has always lived in the shadows. They couldn’t be different, but life brings them back together: a difficult situation becomes the occasion to re-discover each other, between fragility and tenderness, fear and euphoria. Commenting on the genesis of the film, Valeria Golino states: “Euphoria was born in my mind three years ago, inspired by real events that were happening in the real life, to people who are dear to me. For this reason, my scriptwriters – Francesca Marciano, Valia Santella and myself, with the collaboration of Walter Siti – approached the story with that trembling attention one have when handling a fragile and precious object. At the same time, we were sure that that was a powerful story, both light and deep. A cast of clever, self-confident, and generous actors contributed to further enrich the complexity of our characters.”

Among the other films announced in Cannes, Wim Wender’s documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His World is an Italian coproduction that will play in the Special Screenings out of competition. The film aims to present the reforming work of the current Pope, focusing on his viewpoints on globally-relevant questions and establishing  a constant dialogue with the viewer. The opening film, Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, is an Italian coproduction, too. The two-time Oscar winner, with A Separation and The Client, shot his latest film in Spain through a coproduction between Spain (Morena Films), France (Memento Film Production) and Italy (Lucky Red). Starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, the films tells the story of a woman arriving from Argentina to celebrate with her family in her home town. But what was supposed to be a short visit is suddenly shocked by unforeseeable events that will change everybody’s life forever.

Among the missing Italian titles, the absence of Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro looks particularly relevant. General Delegate Thierry Frémaux highlighted how this year’s selection favoured new names who has never played in the main competition before, “after all those times we’ve been accused of inviting always the same names.” More specifically, “Sorrentino’s film is peculiar when it comes to its distributive nature, and that was complicated for us. Discussions are still underway though.” The film will be in fact released in two parts: Loro 1 on April 24 (thus before Cannes) and Loro 2 on May 10.