Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1198, (22 - 28 May 2014)
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1198, (22 - 28 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Cannes keeps rocking

If anyone is asking, where have all the filmmakers gone; the ready answer is, if it’s May, they are at Cannes, of course.

They have chosen the loveliest month to head to the loveliest spot on the glamorous French Riviera. For 11 glorious days (May 14-25), this lazy, sleepy, sea-resort wakes up with a jolt, to welcome Filmdom’s royalty. Joy of joys, suddenly Cannes is the capital of the world and all eyes are focused on its splendour and its ultra-glamorous visitors.

Despite the frivolous façade of a Riviera romp, Cinema is serious business for the French! They love this young art with a passion and their May rendez-vous with the world’s renowned filmmakers is the artistic year’s highlight.

A veritable melting-pot of talent and creativity from far and near, get together for a brief reunion to celebrate the art of the present and the future. Admittance is by personal invitation only, but that does not deter the crowds who pour in droves, rocking the very foundation of the small sea resort. Their effort is well worthwhile. There is much to do and much to enjoy. By the Grand Palais, orchestras play familiar themes from favourite classic movies and a stroll on the famous Croisette allows you to rub shoulders with stars and starlets galore. The big moment arrives at sundown when the famous red carpet is laid out and the ‘Glamour Parade’ begins!

Although the crowds and press are cordoned off, they can still catch a glimpse of their favourite stars and may be manage a shot or two. The theatre doors close and the show begins!

This year the Festival de Cannes kicked off the festivities with Nicole Kidman as the late Princess Grace. It was an auspicious beginning to be sure, regardless of the controversy between director Olivier Dahan and producer Harvey Weinstein. Dahan managed to display the flawless beauty of one of the world’s most stunning creations, in his unique, exquisite close-ups. The divine Kidman breathlessly fragile expressed the pain and loneliness of a young American hopelessly trying to be a princess in a crystal palace among an entourage who mainly looked down on her. Her prince charming was far too busy battling with the French government over taxation, to even notice her. 

While Grace of Monaco was ‘Out of Competition’, 20 other films were admitted to the official competition, and those in contention seemed like the regular Cannes fare. The buzz over who will win the coveted Palme d’Or on Sunday, among the 20 entries, include: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s White Winter Sleep, Michel Hazivancius and Bernice Bejo’s of  The Artists fame contributed The Search, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Tommy Lee Jones’s The Homesman, and Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, among others.

Apart from the Official Competition, Cannes’s other major categories are:  “Un Certain Regard”, where another 20 films are presented from around the world, that often display debuts and experimental techniques, as well as “Le Camera d’Or”, reserved for first time efforts.

Due to a strict criterion which Cannes religiously adheres to, the films presented should have been shot within the last 12 months and never presented at any other theatre, festival, online or anywhere! Thousands of films are admitted, and selection committees view them all.

This year’s Jury President is New Zealand’s prominent director, Jane Campion, herself a Palme d’Or winner for The Piano in 1997.  Miss Campion has criticised the Festival de Cannes for not presenting the works of more female directors, contrary to the spirit of inclusion it boasts about. Its aim is to reveal and focus all works of quality in order to contribute to the progress of motion pictures’ arts and to encourage the development of the film industry throughout the world, is hardly achieved. Cannes’s artistic director, Thierry Fremaux, begged to differ, claiming there is a higher percentage of women directors presented at Cannes, (20%), while the female directors worldwide are a mere 7%.  Still, he promised more female directors next year.  

A broad smile of nostalgia is evoked at this year’s Cannes poster of the late Marcello Mastroianni’s in Fellini’s masterpiece 8½.

When it comes to Red Carpet glamour, nothing can compare to Cannes! Sartorial power is dominant and truly international. Add to that the sun, the sea and 11 days of magic, and that is one up on the Oscars, although the latter still remains the highest cinematic award.

In Cannes, the ball gowns are bigger, the jewels heavier, and the parties more lavish, and the dose of glamour is richer. Down and up the famous red carpet, the lovelies pirouette and smile their sweetest to the roars of the fans and the press. Nicole Kidman mesmerised, so did Cate Blancett, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Audrey Patou, Soldana, Karlie Kloss and on and on and on, every night filling the whole Riviera with exquisite frills and thrills.

It is a misconception that Palme d’Ors are handed out freely. Only one Palme d’Or is given to the Best Feature Film. Lately they have added one for the Best Documentary, which gets little coverage from the press.

Much as Cannes would like its festival to be known for its artistic contributions, art is buried under the magic of clear, crisp, blue skies, tons of heavy make-up and heavier jewelry.

Strangely enough it all comes blissfully together transforming chaos into enchanting harmony!


“No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”

Ingmar Bergman (1816-1939)

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