Cate Blanchett at Cannes Film Festival premiere of ‘RUMOURS’ and ‘EVOLVER’

RUMOURS, directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, premiered to warm reviews at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Cate Blanchett leads the film as German chancellor, Hilda Ortmann. She also serves the executive producer through Dirty Films. The premiere was attended by the directors and other cast members: Charles Dance, Denis Ménochet, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Roy Dupuis, and Rolando Ravello. The film will be released in the US later this year.

The afternoon prior to the late night premiere, she visited Cineum where official selections of the inaugural Immersive Competition at Cannes is being presented. She narrated the VR project, EVOLVER.

You can find red carpet, photocall, press conference, interviews and reviews below.



The best movie at this year’s Cannes Film Festival? Easy. The Cate Blanchett one. No, not her goofy political satire Rumours, but the other one. It’s called Evolver and it played at the festival’s virtual reality sidebar section, 40 minutes up the coast from the main Croisette site. And there, in a darkened room, the atmosphere hushed and church-like, and after a compulsory ten-minute guided meditation (instead of, say, buying popcorn and nachos), did the greatest screen experience of Cannes 2024 unfold.

No, really. This is no novelty joke or technical gimmick. And yes, a clunky, heavy VR headset is required. But the talents behind Evolver are, as they say in Succession, serious people. The executive producer is Terrence Malick, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Johann Johannsson provide the music, and Blanchett soothingly narrates the dreamlike poetry of Daisy Lafarge.

The film? It’s conceptually simple yet sublime in execution and for 45 minutes follows the progress of a human breath on a subatomic level in a woozy, ever-flowing environment that at times seems more outer than inner space. It speaks, thematically, of that great interpenetration of the scientific, the quantum and the quasi-spiritual.

It was four years in the making and is based on cutting-edge scientific analysis and data sets taken from electron microscopes. One of the producers submitted themselves to three full days of MRI scans, just for structural reference points. It’s all part of an attempt to describe, as Blanchett says midway, purring through Lafarge’s poetry, “a tangle of essences streaming beneath your skin, blurring the outline of where you end and begin”.

Yet even that doesn’t come close to articulating the strange, transcendent and often profoundly moving reality of the Evolver experience as you look and listen, spin around and wonder, and feel slowly unencumbered by the body, floating free inside something greater. I found myself frequently beaming and returning, in my head at least, to a safe and liberated womb-like state, surrounded by the energetic flow between earthly, cosmic, God-shaped particles. This is, according to the film’s director, Barnaby Steel, the correct response. Evolver, he says, amplifies the idea that “the deep essence revealed through science is speaking to us on a spiritual level”.

Full review on The Times

Cate Blanchett Brings XR Passion to Cannes

The XR experience “Evolver” was one of eight projects selected for the Cannes Film Festival’s inaugural Immersive Competition this year.

Narrated by Cate Blanchett, the project follows the flow of oxygen throughout the human body, tracing our inner ecosystems via a full sensory experience set to music from Jonny Greenwood and Jóhann Jóhannsson among many more. Blanchett’s Dirty Films produced the project alongside partners Atlas V, Pressman Film, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and Orange, in association with Artizen. “Evolver” also boasts Terrence Malick and the late Edward R. Pressman as executive producers.

The installation is at Cannes’ Cineum, where the full Immersive Competition will be available until May 25.

What do you think about Cannes launching an Immersive competition?
Cinema is always about immersing oneself in other worlds. Giving a platform to pioneering works that are exploring new opportunities for transportational experiences is an inevitable extension and I’m over the moon we’ve been able to take part in this launch. The core of Cannes will always be pure cinema – but to include those pushing at the technical edge of this purity is, to my mind, vital for creative health of any festival.

How might these new forms help attending filmmakers?
Sometimes the freshest directors are — sometimes unknowingly – also great choreographers, designers, crafts people, and musicians. Giving them new ways to explore multidimensional space and different paths to create engaging soundscapes puts more tools in their arsenal.

What tools drew you to this project?
Personally, I was driven to collaborate on “Evolver” by ignorance and curiosity to put a toe in this medium that seems to have infinite possibilities and applications, about which I know next to nothing. Marshmallow Laser Feast were so turbo charged and generous with their knowledge and with themselves, wanting to push beyond the usual audience boundaries. But yes – it’s always about the conversation for me. I find the intersection of science and art particularly moving, and being exposed to new ways to propel story and experience for an audience was a big motivator.

How was your experience of “Evolver” in Cannes?
As in any approach to filmmaking, “Evolver” has been all about intense collaboration – which may seem paradoxical, since with the VR goggles worn by the viewer they may feel like it’s a solitary experience initially. You do feel connected during the event and afterwards to others around you as well as the space you’ve moved through. Your breath slows. Guided by voice your own movements and the stunning all-encompassing sound of Jonny Greenwood, Meredith Monk and Jon Hopkins. I was deeply moved by the world they were laying down.

Cannes Day 5
Evolver Premiere
Evolver Premiere Caps


After Party
Cannes Day 6

Excerpts from the reviews on Rumours. Beware of spoilers.

Cate Blanchett and Charles Dance are among the G7 luminaries lost in an apocalyptic forest, in this hilariously pin-sharp Canadian film.

This triumphantly stupid ensemble comedy, which premiered on Saturday night at Cannes to a five-minute standing ovation, casts the G7 leadership adrift in a B-movie, essentially turning the heads of the leading liberal first-world democracies into the Mystery Machine gang from Scooby-Doo.

During a working lunch in a German castle’s picturesque grounds, a supernatural apocalypse descends. Soon, our prim septet – including Nikki Amuka-Bird as the desperately proper British PM, and Charles Dance as the doddering and narcoleptic US President (who, in an inspired absurdist running-joke, has an intact English accent) – are battling zombie bog-monsters and tangling with a giant glowing brain, while a creepy forest presses in on all sides.

The premise sounds as though it must invite a satirical reading, and there are many well-aimed ironic jabs at aspects of the leaders’ national character and the box-ticking rigmarole of modern politics. But directors Guy Maddin and brothers Evan and Galen Johnson – three beloved cult Canadian experimentalists – also poke fun at the notion that their intentions could be so clean-cut.

Full review on The Telegraph

Blanchett, plays Germany’s elegant Chancellor Hilda Ortmann, is showing off strong comedy chops, even in the way she Germanicizes her vowel sounds).

Not that understanding is really the point here. Rumours operates on a surrealist plane of its own, making up the rules of its universe as it goes along. Shall we have millennia-old boneless bog people who come to life and menace the guests, it asks itself, and the answer is yes, why not? What if the non-source music swells and bursts like the melodramatic score of a soap opera at times? Sure!

The whole thing sometimes feels like a skit show that just barely holds together until the filmmakers and cast bring it all home for a terrific climactic closure, in which all the buzzwords and banalities get to be rolled up into one triumphant speech shouted into the void as world burns. Like the best comic fantasies, Rumours has more than a grain of tragic truth to it.

Full review on THR

The danger of movies based on conceptual wit is that they will lose steam as things proceed and the filmmakers run out of ideas. Thankfully, Maddin and the Johnsons effectively develop their story — goofy and absurd though it may be — so that these constant digs at our ineffectual leaders do coalesce into something meaningful and alarming. Rumours starts off focusing on how the cocoon of leadership is both a privilege and a curse for these people. By the end, we understand that the ones who are truly doomed are the rest of us. But just because we’re choking on our laughter doesn’t mean we’re not still laughing.

Full review on Vulture

Rumours is a bizarre confection: a political satire and apocalyptic plea that suggests a cross between Dr Strangelove, Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel and Night of the Living Dead. Another major departure – and certainly the film’s biggest selling point – is a prestige international cast headed by Cate Blanchett and Charles Dance, with an eccentric support role for Alicia Vikander, all throwing themselves gamely into the midnight-movie lunacy.

Coming across as a wry upmarket variation on pulp horror, not unlike Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die, Rumours doesn’t quite maximise the potential of its incongruous encounter between the living dead and the great and good, or between urbane boardroom satire and psychotropic freakiness. What sustains it, though, are the performances, performed with relish by an ensemble cheerfully riffing on national stereotypes. Standouts are Blanchett (who execs, together with art-horror favourite Ari Aster), who summons a sly mix of flirtatious gaucheness and bureaucratic decorum, and Dance, who gives his crusty best as a seen-it-all doyen prone to nodding off. Ménochet is also enjoyable as the affable, bumptious, talkative bon vivant.

Full on ScreenDaily

Depending on who you talk to, the world is either in crisis, on fire, at war and/or simply lurching toward a frankly deserved final judgment. So what can be done to save it? Why, a carefully worded provisional statement, of course, from the global leaders currently in possession of both the gas canister and the lit match, but not a surfeit of great ideas for the future. The ineffectiveness of rhetorical politics and symbolic diplomacy — best represented by the Group of Seven, the intergovernmental forum keen on expensive meetings that could have been emails — is kookily but ruthlessly skewered in “Rumours,” a wildly entertaining shaggy-dog satire that sees a stuffy G7 summit devolve into a murky, muddy and strangely isolated zombie apocaly

As comedy subgenres go, political satire can often veer closer to the wryly clever than the baldly hilarious. But “Rumours” — the third feature collaboration between veteran Canadian experimentalist Guy Maddin and fraternal duo Evan and Galen Johnson — is a welcome exception, scoring consistent belly-laughs with a mixture of broad goofball gags, puckish surrealism and more pointedly topical critique.

The film’s marquee attraction, of course, is Cate Blanchett, impishly funny as the summit’s po-faced hostess Hilda Ortmann: a German chancellor with roughly the same hairdo and taste in tailored blazers as Angela Merkel, but little of the gravitas. It’s Germany’s turn to welcome the leaders of the six other G7 democracies — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan and, repeatedly mentioned with self-mocking incredulity, Canada — for a weekend of wining, dining and superficial political discussion at a luxuriously sequestered country estate where they won’t even have to lay eyes on any of the common people whose best interests they’re allegedly representing. A gazebo has been specially built for the occasion. What can go wrong?

The task at hand is a minor one that nonetheless stymies them repeatedly: to collectively draft a constructive-sounding but tactfully unspecific statement on “the global crisis,” a catch-all term for, well, they’re not sure exactly. As they brainstorm the matter over an umpteen-course dinner, concerns raised range include, in no particular order of importance, global warming, bilateral management, staunch advocacy for “non-sexual physical affection,” scheduling the Olympic Games every three years rather than every four, and erecting Western Europe’s largest sundial. The theme of this year’s summit, Hilda helpfully reminds everyone, is “regrets” — this very meeting could safely be added to the list, and that’s before things go more uncannily awry.

Full review on Variety

Cate Blanchett has supplied the strangest moment of this year’s Cannes film festival; for Brits of a certain age, anyway. Her character reverently invokes the name of the late Roy Jenkins, Labour grandee and former chancellor of both the exchequer and Oxford University. Blanchett plays a fictional German chancellor called Hilda Ortmann who mentions Jenkins as the first president of the European Commission allowed to attend a G7 summit (which, as political trivia connoisseurs would say, is “one for the heads”.) Perhaps in her next film Blanchett can do a big speech about Peter Shore.

Rumours is an amusing drawing-room absurdist comedy, co-written and directed by Canadian film-maker Guy Maddin with his longtime collaborators, the brothers Evan and Galen Johnson. The title is inspired by the 1977 Fleetwood Mac album, because of the emotional crises that are said to have accompanied its recording. The setting is a forest in the German town of Dankerode in Saxony where a fictional G7 summit is taking place. Seven government heads have gathered to discuss an unspecified (but apparently ecological) crisis and to draft a lengthy and fantastically unhelpful communique which, as Hilda murmurs to her French counterpart, President Sylvain Broulez (Denis Ménochet), should be worded vaguely enough so they are not committed to any specific action.

This is a very strange film, like a mixture of George A Romero with a crimeless, detectiveless Agatha Christie, and maybe TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party. Blanchett shows herself to be actually pretty good at playing comedy, leading the company in some very amusing set pieces. 

Full review on The Guardian

Smart, sharp and quirky, Rumours is a more explicitly satirical work that we have come to expect from Canadian director Maddin, the outlier indie who has single-handedly put Winnipeg on the cinematic map.

Rumours is thick with these kinds of jokes. Anyone with a fascination for political process and the idiocies of bureaucracy will find one joke after another hitting the bullseye. For anyone else, it is mild fun at best: this is a film that, despite its general amiability, seems to divide audiences. But then, only a certain kind of person gets a kick out of the Treaty of Maastricht.

Full review on Deadline

Galen Johnson, Cate Blanchett, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson at Cannes Film Festival press day for Rumours


On Casting Cate Blanchett: 

German Chancellor: Cate Blanchett

Guy Maddin: Cate Blanchett, who is Australian, is the only actor in Rumours not to play a character of her own nationality.
Evan Johnson: We initially thought of a German actress to be consistent with the rest of the casting. But as we had the opportunity to work with Cate, we changed our minds. We could never have hoped for a star of this level.
Galen Johnson: We were very reluctant to cast a non-German as the chancellor. But Cate made it easier. In addition to her comedic talent, she is very precise in her acting technique, she is able to adopt any accent while being credible.
GM: Cate is a perfectionist. When we finished the film, she asked a German friend to watch it. Some pronunciations did not suit her, she asked to redo them in post-production.
Landing Cate Blanchett follows Maddin in 2008 going to the Sydney Film Festival with My Winnipeg, a phantasmagoric film about his hometown and his childhood. “[Blanchett] was the head of the jury that year, so she would have seen [the film] then,” he recounts.
It must have made an impression on Blanchett, since in 2022 she named My Winnipeg as one of her Criterion Closet picks (along with Tár director Todd Field). Later, the star would be introduced to Maddin in a meeting arranged by Midsommar director Aster, in which the possibility of Blanchett appearing in Rumours was discussed. “Then we had a chat, I told her about my co-directors and she said OK. So it was pretty simple,” Maddin recounts.

Interviews are Google translated from German and French to English

Cate Blanchett as Chancellor in Cannes

Politics in Cannes only takes place where the festival management wants it to: on the screen. In the satire “Rumours,” Hollywood star Cate Blanchett can be seen as the German Chancellor. The film is set at a G7 summit that goes wrong.

There is a lot of laughter at the premiere of “Rumours”. Blanchett is keen to emphasize that her role in the film is not an interpretation of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And this despite the fact that she can be seen in the film with a short blonde blow-dried hairdo and a salmon-colored blazer. “If I were male, you would say: Which German chancellor did you base your interpretation of the female chancellor on? But there is only one example of female leadership in this regard,” Blanchett tells dpa. “Everyone assumes it’s Angela Merkel, but of course she wasn’t. There are very few examples of female leadership in this day and age, so you have to invent them.”

Elements of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are also present in her role, says the 55-year-old. “Even if I didn’t base my role on her.” Blanchett plays the Chancellor in the film by Guy Maddin, Evan and Galen Johnson with a deliberately exaggerated German accent, adding the odd “um.”

In the film, the Chancellor is called Hilda Ortmann. Apart from a certain pragmatism, she actually doesn’t have much in common with Merkel. For example, Ms. Ortmann tries to get close to the Canadian head of state throughout the entire film. The summit takes place at the fictional Dankerode Castle in Germany. The heads of state are threatened by zombies and get lost in the forest while searching for rescue. Meanwhile, all sorts of melodrama takes place between the politicians. National clichés are taken to task. “Rumours” is an absurd, entertaining comedy.

Cate Blanchett’s favorite German word

Actress Cate Blanchett clearly has a soft spot for the German language. She is particularly fond of “wunderbar” (wonderful in English). However, her fascination began with a different word.

Blanchett, a native of Australia, also apparently appreciates some aspects of the German language, as she now told the news agency dpa.

She is particularly fond of one German word. “In everyday life, I like to use the word ‘wunderbar’,” said the 55-year-old at the Cannes Film Festival.

But Blanchett’s penchant for German goes beyond “wonderful.” “I just love the structure of the German language,” she said. “The fact that you can have a word that is so specific for something.”

She also gave an example: “I remember when I was a teenager and someone who I thought was so sophisticated talked about ‘Schadenfreude’. And I said: ‘Schaden-what-the-Freude?’ I thought it was such a sophisticated word – as a 17-year-old, it was my new favorite word.”

Cate Blanchett and Denis Ménochet tell us about their G7 of horror

How did your first meeting go?
Cate Blanchett: We’re always stressed when we start a project. From the moment we were around the table, you demonstrated complete honesty. You were very direct and that allowed us, in a way, to find a common language. So I’m very grateful to you for that.
Denis Ménochet: That’s very kind, thank you. She took one of my lines, and I pointed it out to her. She reacted immediately. And from there, it was game on.
Cate Blanchett: Afterwards, it nourished the relationship between the characters, who were constantly stepping on each other’s toes.

Denis, you play the French president. A rather caricatured character. Did you enjoy this self-deprecating number?
Denis Ménochet: Yes, it was a lot of fun. Usually, it’s foreign actors who play these types of very cliché French characters. I often made fun of my father because he had a very pronounced French accent when speaking English. Then he told me that it was a way for him to represent the country. I had the same feeling playing Sylvain. And then the way the writers make fun of our arrogance is very successful.
Cate Blanchett: And then your whole performance is in the detail, in the way you bring the script to life. I often said to myself: oh, I never would have imagined the scene this way. The moment you read a poem, or the moment you completely break down. You approached everything from an unexpected angle. That’s what makes your performance so good.

The film alternates between several tones, including satire and soap opera. But the horror film codes are predominant. Is this a genre you are sensitive to?
Cate Blanchett: I worked with Sam Raimi, the master of horror, before he made Spiderman . It was in the movie The Gift with Keanu Reeves and Hilary Swank. But I love horror films.
Denis Ménochet: I dream of shooting one…
Cate Blanchett: When I was a teenager, I could watch any horror film. But I remember when my husband put on The Ring , the Japanese version. I was so scared that we ended up watching it in fast-forward.
Denis Ménochet: As an actor, I can’t watch a film without being completely absorbed.
Cate Blanchett: When I started, I was convinced that acting had killed the pleasure of cinema for me. Every time, I asked myself: where is the sound assistant? What lens did they use? But it eventually wears off.

Like the opening film,The Second Act of Quentin Dupieux, Rumeurs evokes artificial intelligence. Is this a fear that you share?
Denis Ménochet: We can use artificial intelligence as a tool. It’s scary, but I think it will never replace a human and artistic approach. After all, a film is a collective work. Creativity will always win.
Cate Blanchett: Human beings understand that even if we have all the money in the world to have eternal youth or go to Mars, we will all die eventually. We know it, even if we don’t want to talk about it. We are so imperfect, while artificial intelligence is omnipotent. But that’s what makes us beautiful, isn’t it? The Japanese have always celebrated the beauty of imperfection. And we have so many cracks in us. But there is no turning back today. It’s like saying: should we keep the Internet? The conversations on this subject are quite worrying. It feels like we are drowning, or asking for help, instead of regulating. After all, it affects our daily lives. But Rumors is not really a criticism of artificial intelligence, it is a subject raised among the other perils of this world.

Sources: Variety, Telerama, THR-Int, Zeit, Spiegel, Vanity Fair