French AIDS Drama “120 Beats Per Minute” To Premiere At Cannes

Arnaud Valois stars as a young gay man whose world is rocked by a militant activist.

Cannes is celebrating its 70th anniversary later this month, and the festival’s 2017 lineup includes a French drama set at the peak of the AIDS crisis: Set in Paris in the early 1990s, 120 Beats per Minute (120 Battements par Minute) explores French ACT UP activists’ struggle to get the government and pharmaceutical companies to create and approve effective treatments.

In the film, Arnaud Valois stars as young activist Nathan, whose world is shaken up by the more radical Sean (Nahuel PĂ©rez Biscayart).

120 battements par minute
120 battements par minute/Memento Films

Director Robin Campillo also directed the gay-themed Eastern Boys and the Natalie Portman/Lily-Rose Depp period drama Planetarium, and co-wrote The Class, which won the Palme d’Or in 2008. He’s up for the honor again this year with 120 Battements par Minute, which is also eligible for the festival’s Queer Palm, which recognizes LGBT-themed films.

While there’s not a slew of other queer movies coming to Cannes, the festival will screen new works from gay directors Todd Haynes and John Cameron Mitchell.

Haynes directs Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore in Wonderstruck, an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s illustrated novel exploring parallel narratives about two hearing-impaired children set 50 years apart. In Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Nicole Kidman stars as an alien touring the galaxy. Kidman previously starred in Mitchell’s 2010 film, Rabbit Hole.

Watch the trailer for 120 Beats per Minute below.


The Cannes Film Festival takes place May 17-28.

Adam Salandra is a writer, performer and host in Los Angeles. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog puppy or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.