Basic Instinct filmmaker Paul Verhoeven's Benedetta to compete at 2021 Cannes Film Festival

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Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, known for garish but smart classics such as Basic Instinct (1992) and Starship Troopers (1997), will compete at this year's Cannes Film Festival with Benedetta, organisers said on Wednesday, 5 May.

The film was considered a likely entry at last year's festival, which was ultimately cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Verhoeven, 82, has often courted controversy with his graphic depictions of sex and violence. He has taken part in several competitions at Cannes but never been awarded.

Benedetta certainly seems topical, set in a 15th-century Italian convent hit by the plague, focusing on the life of a lesbian nun with miraculous powers.

It stars Belgian actress Virginie Efira, who also appeared in Verhoeven's critically acclaimed Elle in 2016, as well as British art-house favourite Charlotte Rampling.

It is the second film to be confirmed for this year's festival, which has been postponed to July 6 to 18 from its usual slot in May.

The other is musical film Annette, starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, by French director Leos Carax, which will open the festival.

Also hotly tipped for the competition are The French Dispatch by American director Wes Anderson and Tre Piani from Italian director Nanni Moretti.

The official selection is due to be announced late next month.

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