Previously known under its working title Balthazar, the movie is a modern interpretation of the 1960s cult classic Au Hasard Balthazar (Balthazar, at Random) by Robert Bresson, which follows a donkey as he changes owners, most of whom treat him badly.
The journey of the donkey in Skolimowski's remake of Balthazar begins in a Polish circus and ends in an Italian slaughterhouse.
The Polish Film Institute has said in a social media post: “Handed over from hand to hand, the donkey meets both good and bad people on its way. It is a road movie which is both bitter, but also full of warmth.”
The film, with a script by Skolimowski and Ewa Piaskowska, is a Polish-Italian co-production. Its screening at Cannes will be the film’s world premiere.
Skolimowski, 84, is one of Poland’s most internationally renowned directors. His credits include Identification Mark, Barrier, Walkover, Hands Up, Deep End, Four Nights with Anna, and Essential Killing.
Meanwhile, Polish director Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s English-language debut Silent Twins has been selected for the festival's “Un Certain Regard” category, which comprises debut and experimental films.
Silent Twins is a Polish-British co-production based on the book of the same title by investigative journalist Marjorie Wallace. It tells the story of twins who, after spending 14 years at Britain's high-security Broadmoor psychiatric institution, speak to each other only in a language of their own creation.
The main protagonists are played by Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance.
The Cannes festival opens on May 17 and runs until May 28.