A Very Long Engagement: The Cannes Film Festival Turns 60

Maui Time | May 12, 2007
Nothing is ever as obvious as it seems at the Cannes Film Festival (May 16-27). The world's most prestigious film festival and the keeper of cinema's most coveted award, the Palme d'Or, remains a prime compass point where the language of film is spoken on an exhaustive scale for eleven days every year. Round-the-clock screenings, celebrity interviews, crowded press conferences, elite parties, luxurious lunches, word-of-mouth buzz and chance encounters with icons of cinema fly by in a dizzying blur. It's during these spasmodic days that each year's festival starts to display idiosyncratic qualities that will gel into a specific ethic, attitude and idea pool. Behind the pizzazz of paparazzi guarding a never-ending red carpet procession of glamorous stars lit by the Rivera sun is something much more lasting, history.

For its 60th anniversary, the festival's President Gilles Jacob and artistic director Thierry Fremaux commissioned 33 short films about the experience of watching films at Cannes from auteurs such as: Michael Cimino, Lars von Trier, Manoel de Oliveira, Theo Angelopoulos and last year's Palme d'Or winner Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes The Barley). The anthology film project (entitled "To Each His Own Cinema") is just one of many celebratory tributes that will light a candle on the festival's birthday cake. Other special events include screenings of Lindsay Anderson/Never Apologize (Mike Kaplan), Brando (Leslie Greif), Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Thirteen and Sicko, Michael Moore's scathing comedy about "45 million people with no health care in the richest country on earth."

BAFTA award nominee Wong Kar Wai opens the festival with his first English language film My Blueberry Nights, a road movie about a woman's search for love starring Jude Law, Tim Roth and singer Norah Jones in her acting debut. Highlights of the other 20 films in the main competition include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel), The Man From London (Bela Tarr), Zodiac (David Fincher), No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Cohen) and the animated Persepolis, based on the graphic novel autobiography by Iranian author Marjane Satrapi.

Some of the remarkable celebrities expected to navigate the gathered throng of photographers, journalists and fans include: Diane Kruger, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Rachel Weisz, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Aishwarya Rai, Al Pacino, Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Kelly Macdonald, Javier Bardem, Robert Downey Jr., Bono and Asia Argento.

Festival guest of honor Martin Scorsese will announce the launch of the World Cinema Foundation, dedicated to the restoration and preservation of world cinema masterpieces. Scorsese will also give a standing room only cinema master class for those lucky enough to squeeze into the Palais' "Salle Bunuel" screening room.

Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) will preside over the Palme d'Or voting jury, made up of actress Maggie Cheung (Hong Kong), actress Toni Collette (Australia), actress/director Maria De Medeiros (Portugal), actress/director Sarah Polley (Canada), director Marco Bellocchio (Italy), writer Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), actor/director Michel Piccoli and director Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania). Gilles Jacob said of Stephen Frears' presence overseeing the Jury that, "the 60th Festival will henceforth take place under a lucky star of intelligence, wit and a dash of impertinence."

The U.K. is also represented by Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart (playing out of competition) about the assassination of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. France will make its cinematic voice heard with La Vieille Maitresse (by enfant terrible Catherine Breillat), "The Secret" (by Francois Truffaut protégé Claude Miller), Boarding Gate (Olivier Assayas) and La Graine et le Mulet (Abdel Kechiche). South Korea gets a double dip in the main competition with challenging love stories from Kim Ki-duk (Breath) and Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine).

Notable entries in the Un Certain Regard award section include Bad Habits (Mexico's Simon Bross), about a family brought together by eating disorders, and Barbet Schroeder's documentary Terror's Advocate, about the controversial French attorney Jacques Verges who defended such despots as Klaus Barbie and Slobodan Milosevic. Perhaps the strangest entry is auteur Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely, about a Michael Jackson impersonator in Paris (played by Diego Luna) who hooks up with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and moves to her commune in Scotland where she lives with a Charlie Chaplin type.

Urban grit and grime will smear the Rivera with a remastered cut of William Friedkin's notoriously disabused movie Cruising and with Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales, a nasty little comedy about a strip club run by Willem Dafoe, Bob Hoskins and Matthew Modine. Most intriguing is Quentin Tarantino's full-length cut of his film Death Proof (from Grindhouse) which promises to include a previously excised "lap dance" sequence along with more spicy dialogue from the omnipresent filmmaker who won the 1992 Palme d'Or with his debut film Reservoir Dogs. This will surely be a festival to remember.

Maui Time

Maui Time Weekly provides insightful analysis and in depth reporting. We believe some issues are so important they require thoughtful consideration. We are not a “paper of record”—a daily journal of government meetings, ribbon-cuttings and corporate announcements. We decide what’s...
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