Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyon’go. Photo: Courtesy.

Steve McQueen, the Oscar-winning director behind Lupita Nyon’go’s Oscar-winning movie tops the list of big names selected by Cannes Film Festival this year.

Others include François Ozon (Summer of 85), Naomi Kawase (True Mothers), Thomas Vinterberg for Druk (Another Round), Sang-ho Yeon (Peninsula) and Pete Docter (Soul).

McQueen, who directed 12 Years a Slave has his two feature films, Lovers Rock and Mangrove, listed among 56 that made the cut for the official 2020 selection.

The list was released by the organisers of the annual event this week.

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McQueen has dedicated the two films to the memory of George Floyd.

“I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere,” McQueen said in a statement.

“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.’ Black lives matter.”

The selection announcement, traditionally an illustrious affair for teeming journalists, was made in a silent vacant theatre in Paris.

Upcoming festivals

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cannes Film Festival was moved to July, from its May dates, but as it would be, the actual awarding will not take place.

The finalists, picked from a record 2,067 submissions geared at the 73rd year of the event, will instead have their films awarded a badge of honour in a bid to boost their distribution credentials.

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Stamped with the Cannes imprimatur, the selected films will qualify for screening at upcoming festivals such as New York, Telluride, Toronto, Mumbai, Deauville and San Sebastian.

Cannes has already assured that the films will compete at the San Sebastian Film Festival following a deal struck between them and Jose-Luis Rebordinos, the San Sebastian director.

“We will support them,” said Thierry Frémaux, the Cannes Film Festival’s artistic director. “Their names are on the map now.”

For the past few years, Kenyan filmmakers have used the Cannes Film Festival and other international film festivals to pitch their films such as Supa Modo by Likarion Wainaina, Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki and Watu Wote by Africa Digital Media Institute.

Besides Rafiki, all these made it to the Oscars.