Woody Allen’s Kristen Stewart romance ‘Cafe Society’ will open the 2016 Cannes Film Festival


Woody Allen is heading back to a very familiar place: opening night of the Cannes Film Festival.

The director’s newest film, “Cafe Society,” will kick off the prestigious confab when it gets underway May 11. The news marks the third time Allen will open the festival -- following 2011’s “Midnight in Paris” and 2002’s “Hollywood Ending” -- a record, Cannes organizers said.

“Cafe Society” is a 1930’s-set romance revolving around Hollywood. According to a Cannes statement, “the film tells the story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry, falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant cafe society that defined the spirit of the age.”

The movie features Allen’s usual all-star cast, with several notables joining him for the first time, including Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively. The former plays a lead part, as does Allen returnee Jesse Eisenberg. Steve Carell, who had a small part in Allen’s “Melinda & Melinda,” is also in the ensemble.

Stewart’s appearance extends a Cannes run of her own. She is bringing a film to the festival for the third time in five years, following “On the Road” in 2012 and “Clouds of Sils Maria” in 2014.

Allen has previously screened a film at Cannes 13 times, but never in competition, in keeping with the director’s ambivalence about prizes. That streak will not change this year.

The movie does mark some 21st century firsts for Allen. It is the first film of his to be released by Amazon (the company will open it theatrically in the U.S. this summer before streaming it to Prime members at a later date). It is also the first film Allen shot digitally.

The last time Allen opened Cannes it worked out well for him -- “Midnight in Paris” took in more than $150 million worldwide and earned the filmmaker an Oscar for original screenplay.


Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT