By Lopa Jena Kaul
Cannes Film Festival returned for its 71st year surprisingly yesterday, on 8th May, a week earlier than the usual date. The official poster is a still from Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (1965), making it the second time the festival has drawn inspiration from his works, as seen in 2016 with a bright yellow poster from his film, Contempt. Interestingly, the director is still very much active as he himself has a new movie in the competition. The Image Book, which took two years to make and it explores the Middle East in a new and compelling manner.
Following the trend from last year of female jury chair members with Uma Thurman as the Jury President of Un Certain Regard, the honour for being the President of the Jury of the main competition goes to the ever talented Cate Blanchett. Women accompanied her on a march on the red carpet for the Me Too Campaign to bring awareness towards the state of women in workplaces all over the world.
Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev who lost out in his movie, Loveless(2017) last year wins the lottery by being a part of the jury.Some of the others include the director of Selma (2015), Ava DuVernay, Robert Guediguian, a constant sight at the Berlin International Film Festival, and actresses Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.
The opening film of the festival was the much awaited psychological thriller, Everybody Knows by of A Separation (2011) fame. Made in Spanish, it is certainly a challenge for the Iranian filmmaker as he directs the dynamic couple, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Some other films to look out for:
Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine has a non actor in the lead, a real leper who tries to find a better future for his son. Stephane Brize’s At War is a social commentary, as it resembles reality with the recent French strikes against a French airline.
With three female filmmakers in the main competition, Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun has a very powerful subject with female soldiers who try to free their country. Paterson’s Golshifteh returns to Cannes with this enthralling story, which will surely break all gender norms.
With different races still trying to fight for equality, Spike Lee’s Black Kklansmanis a true story about a cop who tries to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Even with the ongoing conflict with the Iranian government, JafarPanahi’sreturns to Cannes with3 Faces, while RyusukeHamaguchi’s Asake I and II is a dark noir and hailed by many for its Hitchcock style structure.
Lars Von Triar’s ban at the festival was finally lifted with the psycho thriller, The House That Jack Built making us wonder if it will be as scandalous and grim like his previous films.
Versatile Spanish actor, Benicio del Toro is the Jury President of Un Certain Regard. As usual France dominates the section with 6 films. It also includes Indian actress Nandita Das’second film, Manto, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the controversial Indo-Pak writer. India shines once more in another section, the Critic’s Week as Rohena Gera, ex-wife of Bollywood filmmaker Rohan Sippy makes her debut with Sir, which is also qualified for a Camera d’Or.
Sadly, Cannes is sticking to its warning as Netflix had to pull out its films from the festival. The online streaming platform’s inability to adhere to the festival’s guidelines led to the exclusion of Alfonso Cuaron’sRoma as well as Orson Welles’ final film The Other Side of the Wind which was to be screened after 42 years of its completion. Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, an upcoming actress would have had three films like Nicole Kidman in 2017 too, but due to the Netflix ban, the producers had to pull out the American thriller, Hold the Dark.
Producer Marin Karmitz who can take the mantle for producing more than a hundred films will be honoured on the same day his film Blow for Blow (1972) will be screened in the Cannes Classic section. Meanwhile as the Director’s
Fortnight section reaches its 50th year, Martin Scorsese is to receive the Golden Coach Award for his directorial skills followed by a special screening of the crime thriller, Mean Streets (1973) starring Robert De Niro as a gangster.
Masterclasses of Christopher Nolan, John Travolta with his new film Gotti, Gary Oldman and Ryan Coogler of the recent Hollywood blockbuster, Black Panther (2018) holds everyone’s interest which will without doubt lead to a packed house as everyone will clamour to get a chance hear such talented and diverse personalities speak.
The festival closes with Terry Gilliam’s Who Killed Don Quixote based on Cervantes’ best work. A much anticipated out of competition screening, it has an interesting history as it took twenty-nine years to make.As usual the star studded and fashionable events will also peak the interests of non-movie enthusiasts as well as movie lovers, filmmakers and other celebrities. Regrettably, I won’t be attending the festival this year, but I can almost imagine the streets full of people in their best outfit, mixing business and pleasure and enjoying the energetic bustle of the tiny, otherwise quiet beach side town.