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Daily Reports From Cannes


by

Serge van Duijnhoven 
Cinema Redux / International Feature Agency

 

La Croisette

 

Eerste indrukken vanuit Cannes 2011

 

Serge van Duijnhoven 

Cinema Redux / International Feature Agency

 

 

 

 

A Trip to the Moon - a return journey

Georges Méliès

A Trip to the Moon was a milestone in cinematic history, in which Georges Méliès experimented for the first time with what we now call  ‘special effects’. The film, over a century old and the first to be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, is enjoying a second lease of life thanks to Cannes Classics.

The story is based on the Jules Verne novel From the Earth to the Moon. Six experts, members of the Astronomers’ Club, set off on an expedition to the Moon, aboard a shell fired from a giant cannon. On arrival, the earthlings encounter the Selenites, who take them prisoner. The film lasts 14 minutes, the standard length of a feature film at the time.

For decades, the colour version of A Trip to the Moon  was thought to be lost. In 1993, it was rediscovered in Barcelona, but in such a critical state that no-one thought a restoration possible. An attempt was made six years later nevertheless, in which the images were isolated and digitised one by one, a process which took three years. The restoration was not completed until 2010. Eighteen years after its discovery, the film is to be screened at Cannes, with a new soundtrack by French electronic duo Air.

Voor al wie zich uit passie of professie, een aanhanger wil noemen van de Muze van de Film en de Cultus der Sublieme Illusie, is het deze en volgende week verzamelen geblazen in Cannes. Cannes, het mondaine plaatsje aan de Cote d’Azur dat zich voor tien dagen tot de navel van de wereld op weet te blazen. Een hedendaags Delphi, waar het Palais des Festivals aan het begin van de kilometerslange Croisette de oppertempel vormt voor zo’n vierduizend journalisten en een veelvoud aan industrielen, cinefielen en pr-mensen, die er driemaal daags hun processie rond de Rode Loper op komen voeren. Cannes, oord van katzwijm en vervoering, inbeelding, blingbling en met een beetje geluk ook nog verbeelding. Cannes dus, waar dit jaar voor de 64e maal de Spelen van het Witte Doek plaats zullen vinden.

Voorzitter van de hoofdjury is Robert De Niro, geflankeerd door Uma Thurman, Linn Ullman, en nog wat schoon volk uit alle windstreken. In tegenstelling tot Tim Burton, de flamboyante juryvoorzitter van vorig jaar, die zijn taakstelling destijds op Olympische wijze formuleerde met de aankondiging vooral die films naar voren te schuiven die “kloppen op de deuren en ramen  van onze verbeelding” (wat een verrassende Gouden Palm opleverde voor Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s juweeltje Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), blonk steracteur De Niro bij aanvang van het festival uit in een lummelige, ongeinteresseerde vorm van blaseheid die hij blijkbaar bij zijn status vond passen. Onderuitgezakt, met een leesbril nonchalent voor op de neus, gelijkend op een koudbloedige vis vanachter het glas van zijn aquarium, verkondigde hij dat het hem vooraf weinig kon schelen waar de films in de competitie over zouden gaan en dat hij niet wist door welke maatstaven waar hij zich bij voorbaat wilde laten leiden. Behalve dan door de helpende hand van Thierry Fremiaux de festivaldirecteur die hji verzocht had hem de criteria op een gouden blaadje aan te bieden.

Gelukkig was er ook de hulp van medejurylid Olivier Assayas, regisseur van het hier vorig jaar vertoonde epos CARLOR over Carlos de Jakhals, die zijn voorzitter enige treffende woorden voorfluisterde dat de jury vooraf niet over pasklare criteria kon bezitten omdat werkelijk grote films nu eenmaal hun eigen standaard zetten en nieuwe criteria aan de filmgeschiedenis toevoegen.

Langs die meetlat bezien, en het festival is nog pril en gaat vandaag alweer goedgemutst zijn vierde dag pas in, zijn er toch al een paar bijzondere films uit de doos van de Gebroeders Lumiere tevoorschijn getoverd. Zo was de Openingsfilm van Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris – bijzonder geslaagd als romantisch sprookje dat hoofdpersoon Owen Wilson klokslag middernacht met een oude Peugeot midden in de Roaring Twenties deed belanden, tussen het verkwikkende gezelschap van Zelda en Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Braque, Bunuel. En een schitterende Adrian Brody met snor, die een hilarische versie van Salvador Dali tot leven wist te wekken. Een film om van te smullen.

Voorts wist de Engelse Linne Ramsey veel indruk te maken met haar bitterzwarte, loodzware noodlotsdrama We Need To Talk To Kevin, over een kind dat opgroeit tot een massamoordenaar – als de vervullnig van een missie om de ultieme kwelduivel van zijn moeder Tilda Swinton te kunnen zijn. Alles gefilmd in Cinevision, panoramisch vervloeiende kleuren en gefragmenteerde spectra die het geheel alsnog als een esthetische zij het niet smakelijke amuse gueule op wisten te dienen.  Het meeste indruk op mij maakte de nieuwe klapper van Gus van Sant, Restless. Film die de aftrap mocht geven in de nevencompetitie Un Certain Regard. Ik heb het, moet ik bekennen, nauwelijks een minuut drooggehouden bij die film over een terminale kankerpatiente en een getraumatiseerde wees die zijn ouders verloren is bij een auto-ongeluk (een rol met verve gespeeld door de zoon van de onlangs overleden Easy Rider Dennis Hopper, aan wie de film trouwens is opgedragen). Snotterend, vanachter een zonnebril, een zakdoek bij de hand, heb ik me mee laten voeren door dit feeerieke verhaal van twee Orphische geliefden die in de limbo tussen leven en dood nog heel even de liefde van hun leven mogen beleven. Deze film, beste luisteraars, is Grote Kunst. En heus niet alleen voor bakvisjes, zoals The Hollywood Reporter in zijn Review gister schreef. Omdat het zeer precies voldoet aan de definitie die papa Hemingway ons in Woody’s film voorhoudt: “all art is only good, real good, if it eases the pain of living. And all the rest? Is drunken dumbshow or drugged out prop up for life as a moveable feast…”

© Serge van Duijnhoven, voor Opium Radio (AVRO), vanuit Cannes

17th

TUESDAY 17th MAY 2011 – CANNES

LE HAVRE – Aki Kaurismaki

Aki Kaurismäki lands in Le Havre 

Aki Kaurismäki © CR

 Le Havre takes us straight into the Finnish cinematographer’s wild world, at once despairing and heart-warming. This is the second film Aki Kaurismäki has made in France; the first one was La Vie de Bohème. He won the Grand Prix for The Man Without a Past; this is his fourth film in competition for the Palme d’or. 

 When you go to see an Aki Kaurismäki film, you know you’re guaranteed a bit of fantasy. In Le Havre, we meet up again with Marcel Marx (André Wilms), the main character in La Vie de Bohème (1991). He has retreated into voluntary exile in the town of Le Havre, where he has definitively buried his dreams of becoming a writer. He lives a quiet life with his wife Arletty, going to the local bar and working as shoe shiner, until the day when a young African illegal immigrant comes into his life.  

The issue of refugees was already present in La Vie de Bohème with the deportation of Rodolfo, the character of the Albanian painter. Behind the dark humour and just a touch of cynicism, Aki Kaurismäki is a deeply human film maker, and the idea of dignity always plays a role in his films.

The film maker has long wanted to tell the story of an African youth seeking asylum in Europe. He had previously thought of a port in Spain, Greece or Italy as the setting, but after looking the length of the Genoa coast and all the way to Holland, he finally found in Le Havre what he was searching for – “blues, soul and rock and roll”. 
Just as in the cult classic Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989), rock and roll is part of the adventure. “Le Havre is the French Memphis, and Little Bob is Elvis in this kingdom” says Aki Kaurismäki, whose work is also rich with references to cinema. His team of favourite actors includes Lean-Pierre Léaud, and in Le Havre he is joined by fellow French actor Pierre Etaix. Jean-Pierre Darroussin may be a newcomer to the group, but this is one of two films he plays a role in that is part of the Official Selection at Cannes, along with Les neiges du Kilimandjaro (The Snows of Kilimanjaro), directed by Robert Guédiguian.

 

“I always liked the version of the fairytale where Little Red Riding Hood eats the wolf and not the other way around .”
 

Aki KAURISMÄKI

Dir/scr: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland-France-Germany. 2011. 93mins

Since the early 1980s, Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki has been mining his own peculiar seam and achieving a quiet miracle – making films that gladden the heart the most when they’re at their most unflappably lugubrious. Le Havre essentially offers us the director’s usual menu – poker-faced acting, weather-beaten faces, political compassion, hyper-stylized staging and decrepit barroom interiors lit con amore. But there’s something fresh in this new film, which sees the Finn fully venting his Francophilia for the first time since 1991’s La Vie de Bohème.

The film hits a delicate balance between real-world exteriors and stylized, studio-bound scenes.

Taking on both the Gallic cinema tradition and a current French political issue, Kaurismäki works with a superb Franco-Finnish cast to bring us a typically modest but shining French-language gem that sees him magnificently back on form after the slight dip of 2006’s Lights In The Dusk. Francophone audiences will especially be tickled, but Akiphiles worldwide will be in heaven.

The opening shots set up the tone – a succession of laconic sound and sight gags, establishing a world in which sinister figures wear trenchcoats and fedoras. We’re somewhere between real modern France and the stylized noir world of Kaurismäki’s beloved Jean-Pierre Melville.

Protagonist Marcel Marx (veteran Wilms) is a philosophical ex-artist in the Northern French port, trying to eke a living as a shoeshine man in a world where everyone wears trainers. He lives in impoverished happiness with wife Arletty (Outinen) in a working-class neighbourhood seemingly left over from a Marcel Carné film, with a faithful neighbour in the shape of big-hearted boulangère Yvette (Didi).

While Arletty is away in hospital – unknown to Marcel, her condition is incurable – the shoeshiner befriends Idrissa (Miguel), a young African immigrant on the run from police; the film is set against the background, glimpsed in TV coverage, of the French authorities’ controversial and drastic closure of the refugee camp known as ‘Le Jungle’.

Marcel offers Idrissa shelter with himself and his faithful mutt (played by Laika, the fifth generation in a dynasty of Kaurismäki regulars), and tries to find a way to reunite Idrissa with his mother, who’s living in London.

The very simple plot involves Marcel trying to raise money for Idrissa’s escape – which he does by arranging a charity gig by antique French rocker Roberto Piazza aka Little Bob. Meanwhile, a malevolent neighbour (legendary veteran Jean-Pierre Léaud) has snitched to the authorities, but luckily Inspector Monet (Darroussin), the cop in charge of bringing in Idrissa, conceals a warm heart under his hard-bitten, taciturn exterior.

Together, Wilms and Darroussin bring the freshest new notes to Kaurismäki’s world. Wilms, at one point making an overt nod to his role in La Vie de Bohème, adds an impish courteousness to the film’s otherwise uninflected acting style, while Darroussin’s hangdog phiz and world-weary sang-froid are a sublime fit for the Kaurismäki universe.

The moment when Darroussin walks into a bar holding a pineapple is one of those priceless moments of Tati-esque comedy that defy explanation.

Highlighting the political themes that have been foremost in Kaurismäki’s hard-times fiction at least since 1996’s Drifting Clouds, the director adds a new quasi-documentary element to his cinema, filming one sequence at what appears to be a genuine refugee detainment centre.

The film hits a delicate balance between real-world exteriors and stylized, studio-bound scenes, notably the spit-and-sawdust bar frequented by a memorable variety of grizzled seamen (presumably real dockside faces). The director’s regular cinematographer Timo Salminen shoots with meticulous style, bringing an almost comic-strip economy both to exteriors and to the sets in Kaurismaki’s favourite muted blue and red.

The handling of anachronism is brilliant as ever, and it’s typical of the director’s sour attitude to modernity that the one outright baddie (Léaud’s informer) is the only character who owns a cellphone.

Regular faces Outinen and Salo bring a laconic tenderness to their roles, and newcomer Blondin Miguel has a solemn appeal. French comedy legend Pierre Etaix contributes a sympathetic cameo, and as ever, Laika is the best-lit mutt in European cinema.  Music is a typical Kaurismäki mix, including tangos, blues, melodrama-redolent selections from compatriot composer Einojuhani Rautavaara – although viewers may balk at the director indulging his taste for mediocre French rock, in the shape of a live and lukewarm performance by Little Bob.

Production companies: Sputnik, Pyramide Productions, Pandora Film
International sales: The Match Factory, http://www.matchfactory.de
Producer: Aki Kaurismäki
Cinematography: Timo Salminen
Production designer: Wouter Zoon
Editor: Timo Linnasalo
Main cast: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel, Elina Salo

André Wilms: 'Aki is a filmmaker who uses voices.' 

Aki Kaurismaki, Jean-Pierre Darroussin © CR

Aki Kaurismaki presented Le Havre, alongside the actors Jean-Pierre Darroussin, André Wilms, Kati Outinen and producer Fabienne Vonier.

Aki Kaurismaki on the film’s humour, which is less ironic than his previous feature films:

“When I look at the people in this world, I hold out no hope for our planet.  So to avoid adding to the mess, this film is primarily designed to be an entertaining escape.  I had already been disenchanted by some things at the age of 10, but back then I pretended in order to create hope in others.”

Jean-Pierre Darroussin on Aki Kaurismaki:

“Aki’s charisma communicates without words.  Aki is the opposite of a French President. He brings together a few bits and pieces and creates a world, while Presidents reduce the world to a few bits and pieces.”

André Wilms on the director’s films:

“These are no big cinema voices like Gabin left today… Everything gets whispered.  You make fewer mistakes if you talk so quietly, but it’s not the same thing.  Aki is a filmmaker who uses voices.”

Aki Kaurismaki, with a touch of humour, on the camera he films with:

“The camera used to belong to Ingmar Bergman. But he made 2 films with it, and I’ve done 18, so it’s not his camera any more (…).  May he rest in peace.”

Fabienne Vonier on Aki Kaurismaki:

“He is a genuine master craftsman in everything he does in film, and he works like a Trojan. He’s a true poet who mixes humour with modesty.”

 THE BEAVER – JODIE FOSTER

Jodie Foster : 'If it had been a different actor than Mel, I might have gone a different direction' 

Jodie Foster © AFP
 
Jodie Foster nurses a family living through a crisis 

Jodie Foster © AFP

The star of Silence of the Lambs (1991), now known for her work as a director, is presenting her third feature length film Out of Competition, her first at Cannes. She co-stars in The Beaver with Mel Gibson, who hasn’t been in the running for the official selection since 1984.


Jodie Foster made her first appearance for the Official Selection at Cannes alongside Robert De Niro for Taxi Driver (1976, Palme d’or). Thirty six years later, it is no longer as an actress, but as a director that Foster returns to the Croisette. As fate would have it, The Beaver is being shown the same year that her mentor from her early career is president of the Jury for Feature Films.
The Beaver also marks a reunion for the director with her friend Mel Gibson, to whom she already starred opposite in Maverick (1994), by Richard Donner. Here Gibson is playing Walter Black, a family man suffering from depression who is unable to talk to those he loves. When his wife (Jodie Foster) kicks him out, the forty-something decides to get his life back on track again. He’s able to do that thanks to a beaver puppet, through which he’s finally able to talk about his feelings.

For her third film, Jodie Foster again explores family relations, a theme central to Little Man Tate (1991) and Home for the Holidays (1996), her other two full-length films. Visually, she chose a “realistic and natural style, without any grandstanding” that balances out the sometimes “dark and tragic” tone of the script. “I think that people create a sort of alter-ego for themselves” explains Steve Golin, producer of The Beaver. “The film is just a heightened example of that phenomenon”

Jodie Foster, director of The Beaver, held a press conference on her movie – presented Out of Competition  – with screenwriter Kyle Killen. Highlights from the press conference.

Jodie Foster spoke about her double role as director and actor:

“It’s a very bad idea to direct and act at the same time. The advantage is you know the characters extremely well and know where the movie is supposed to be going. But the bad side is you don’t get surprises.”

The director praised Mel Gibson’s performance:

“I knew that Mel wouldn’t have a problem with my directing. If it had been a different actor, I might have gone a different direction. Mel had a deep understanding of Walter’s character. He was prepared to show himself going through a struggle, something he has experience with. We talked about that a lot when we were shooting. For Mel, it was very important to shoot this movie. I know he’s incredibly proud of it.”

The movie-maker explained her penchant for psychology:

“Actors love psychology. That’s why we’re actors. The root of psychology is family. (…) I make movies about spiritual crises. That’s what Walter is going through. Making movies is my own way of coming to terms with my own crises. It allows you to move through issues in your own life. It’s a healing process.”

On the subject matter of the movie:

“Walter has a choice between a death sentence, through suicide, and a life sentence. His illness is a real psychological breakdown stemming from chemical depression. If there is one final thought in the film, it’s the idea that you don’t have to be alone. Being alone is a choice that we make.”

 

Pater: a dialogue between Alain Cavalier and Vincent Lindon

 

 

 

 

Pater: a dialogue between Alain Cavalier and Vincent Lindon  

Alain Cavalier © AFP

The filmmaker Alain Cavalier, who won the Jury Prize with Thérèse in 1986, examines the interaction between a director and an actor and the nature of power relationships in Pater. It is the fourth and final French film in Competition and is a particularly unusual work somewhere between fiction and a documentary.

Thierry Frémaux got people talking about the film at the press conference announcing the Selection – “It’s an extremely unusual and incredibly inventive film – one of the strangest films you will see at Cannes this year.”

In Pater, Alain Cavalier and Vincent Lindon play themselves – a director and an actor, two friends with a father-son relationship who discuss what film they should make together.  From time to time, they make films of themselves playing powerful men. “Just for fun”, says Alain Cavalier. And to raise the eternal unanswerable question of cinema – is it true or not?

Alain Cavalier has had a funny career. At the height of his success (Mise à Sac (Pillaged), La Chamade (Heartbeat)) he decided to stop making films. Eight years later he made his comeback with simpler more experimental pieces like Le Plein de super (Fill ‘er Up with Super – 1976) and Martin et Lea (Martin and Lea – 1978). After the unexpected success of Thérèse, which won the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes in 1986, he retired again for a few years and turned away from fiction, actors and stories to focus on people and their lives.

The arrival of small digital video cameras was a turning point in his career, as they let him film things up close and gave him his unusual style somewhere between documentary and fictionalised autobiography.

Since Vies (Lives) in 2000, he has been producing films more regularly.  Two of his most recent films were selected for Un Certain Regard: Le filmeur, an exercise in self-analysis that won him the appropriately-named Intimacy Prize, and Irène (Irene) about a former lover who tragically died. He returns to the Competition with Pater.

 

Cinema as a forum for political debate

 

 

 

 

Oil Change

17 May, 2011

CR talks to the directors of controversial documentary The Big Fix about the BP oil spill.

If you’ve seen a woman with an elegant parasol on the Croisette this week, that’s not just a fashion statement.

She’s Rebecca Tickell , one of the directors of controversial documentary The Big Fix, about the BP oil spill and a vast network of corruption surrounding it. When she was in Louisiana, with her husband and fellow director Josh Tickell, researching the documentary when the contamination there. When she got extremely sick from the contamination. There are stil parts of her skin that can’t be exposed to sunlight. She’s not alone – the filmmakers estimate there are 4 to 5 million people in the spill’s impact zone.

“That was just the beginning,” Josh Tickell says, of their trip to see oil washing up on Louisiana beaches when the government had said everything was cleaned up. “Then we did an investigation in to the real cause [of the disaster and the spin].” The journey takes them to Capitol Hill and the White House.
 
The pair made the movie in 9 months (compared to the average doc incubation of 7 years), independently funding it so there would be no restrictions on content.

They met Peter Fonda when he became a fan of their last film Fuel, about the need for green energy. Actress Amy Smart and musician Jason Mraz also came on board. All of them were down with the filmmaking team in Louisiana to see the disaster for themselves. Now, Tim Robbins has also come on board as an executive producer.
 
The film screens tonight at 8 pm with Mraz and Fonda also in attendance.
 
Josh Tickell paid tribute to Cannes for providing a platform for important social issues. “Cannes is creating a place for these highly controversial and highly politically charged movies,” he said, pointing to past screenings like Lucy Walker’s Countdown To Zero. “The entertainment factor is there, but also we need to have that social commentary.”
 

Cinema as a forum for political debate  

Josh Tickell et Rebecca Tickell © DR

Presented amongst the Special Screenings, the documentary, The Big Fix, revisits one of the biggest ecological scandals of the last year. The two directors investigate the oil spill which occurred in the USA last year, polluting the Atlantic Ocean in an irreversible manner.

On the 22nd April 2010, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon run by BP sank into the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst oil spill in history. Until the definitive closure of the well on the 19th September, 779 037 744 litres of crude oil, and over 7000000 litres of dispersants were released into the sea.
 

As the two directors investigate deeper, the more they discover about the covert politicking and corruption at work, placing financial imperatives above any other interests. Josh Tickell already made a film about the new fuels: Fuel, a documentary about a “veggie van”, a bus which ran on used cooking oil, in order to make the general public aware of the new biocarburants. For the director, “films enable an awareness to be developed about contemporary issues thanks to the fact that they are personal and accessible. No other form of report or study could impact your mind as much as a film.” For Josh Tickell, cinema is hence a forum for political debate which can lay bare the aberrations of the contemporary world.

The Festival pays tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo 

Jean-Paul Belmondo © DR

The Festival de Cannes pays tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo this year, by dedicating a special evening to him this evening. The evening rundown includes the screening of a documentary, a dinner followed by a party to celebrate the actor and his career.
Alongside Jean Gabin and Michel Simon, Jean-Paul Belmondo is one of the greatest French actors of all time, thanks to the diversity of the roles he has played, his charismatic personality, the accuracy when acting, his cocky humour and easy elegance”, said Gilles Jacob and Thierry Frémaux. The Festival de Cannes is paying tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo today, with a special evening. The actor has always worked with the greatest film-makers, regardless of the genre of film in which he has starred, and won a Caesar award in 1989 for his role in Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté (Itinerary of a Spoilt Child) by Claude Lelouch. His career is traced back in the documentary to be screened tonight, Belmondo, itinéraire…by Vincent Perrot and Jeff Domenech.
Tribute will not just be paid tonight, as the actor was put in the spotlight last Thursday when the film 100 000 dollars au soleil (Greed in the Sun) by Henri Verneuil was screened at the plage Macé. The Cinéma de la Plage will screen another film tomorrow, this time, Le Magnifique (How to Destroy the Reputation of the Greatest Secret Agent) by Philippe de Broca.

“Belmondo, itinéraire…”, the genesis of the documentary

'Belmondo, itinéraire…', the genesis of the documentary

Jean-Paul Belmondo © CR

A documentary about Jean-Paul Belmondo’s career will be screened, on the occasion of the tribute paid to him by the Festival de Cannes. Belmondo, itinéraire… was co-directed by Vincent Perrot and Jeff Domenech, and was initially a pure coincidence.
Jeff Domenech, a fast-food restaurant manager, made an encounter which was to change his life. He met the film-maker, Georges Lautner when with three friends who were hunting for autographs during a festival in Monte-Carlo. The two men got to know each other and one day, Lautner invited Domenech to lunch. That was the day Domenech met his idol, Jean-Paul Belmondo, who has since become a friend. Domenech managed to convince Belmondo to agree to his project of making a documentary about his career. As Domenech was so sincere, Belmondo agreed to this for the first time in his life. This was how Belmondo, itinéraire…, co-directed with Vincent Perrot, a host on the French radio RTL and author of several documentaries and works on cinema, came into being. The scenario begins with the actor going to the film screening. He sees the whole of his career flash before his very eyes, with extracts of his films combined with testimonials from actors from both his generation and the current one, all narrated by Jean Dujardin.

SKOONHEID 

The first Afrikaans film in Un Certain Regard 

Oliver Hermanus © AFP

Developed during the 19th session of the Résidence de la Cinéfondation, Skoonheid is the second feature film by Oliver Hermanus, a filmmaker born in Cape Town, South Africa. The fifth South African feature film presented at Cannes and the first in Afrikaans, it is a sign of the emergence of a new cinematography in the Cannes selection.

While François is convinced that he has wasted his life, a chance encounter completely turns his neat and tidy existence on its head. Christian is a good-looking young man of 23 years of age, the son of an old friend. François is secretly troubled, consumed by a devouring passion. By accepting these new feelings, he starts out towards something quite novel… happiness.

At only 27 years of age, Oliver Hermanus is the youngest director in Un Certain Regard. Having studied cinema in Europe, he returns to his country of origin and describes characters torn between the contradictions of their desire to live, and the weight of a miserable daily existence. The director was identified by international critics in 2005 with the feature film Shirley Adams, the story of a woman bringing up her handicapped child alone in poverty. “We are born into a society in revolt, and we need our own cinema to echo our battle for rights and freedom,” the director states.

MONDAY 16th MAI

 

The Tree of Life: in the beginning, there was a mystery

The Tree of Life: in the beginning, there was a mystery
Brad Pitt © CR

Thirty two years after receiving the award for Best Director for Days of Heaven (1979), Terrence Malick returns In Competiton at Cannes with his fifth film, The Tree of Life, an enigmatic feature film with an ambitious synopsis.
Originally planned for the 2010 Selection, The Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick will, in the end, be screened this year In Competition. Once again, the director offers a stellar casting with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, who he already directed in The Thin Red Line. Audiences will also get to know the actress, Jessica Chastain, in her first major film role. Malick entrusted Français Alexandre Desplat, member of the Jury at Cannes last year, with the task of composing the film’s music.
Very little is known about this feature film besides the few images that appear in its trailer and its synopsis. The American director depicts the memories of Jack, a boy raised in the 1950s by an authoritarian father and a loving mother. Following the birth of his two brothers, Jack must learn to share the unconditional love he receives and face up to the exaggerated individualism of his father who is obsessed with the success of his offspring. Then one day a tragic incident tips this already precarious balance…
Alongside this storyline, Terence Malick offers a view of humanity since its creation. The Tree of Life is an ambitious project which is as mysterious as Malick himself, a man known for his reserved nature. His infrequent cinematographic works – only 5 films in 36 years – and the 20-year gap between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line have served to heighten anticipation of The Tree of Life. The recent release of a collection of fragments of the film on its official website has in no way diminished this excitement: a mosaic made up of 70 stills in which a dinosaur, a lava flow, a waterfall and diverse family scenes are all juxtaposed… A multiple photo frame that tells an enigmatic story. The Festival de Cannes will today unlock the secret of this feature film by screening it the day before it premieres in cinemas across France.

Brad Pitt gives one of his finest performances in Terrence Malick’s drama about the beginnings of life on Earth and the travails of a 1950s Texas family, writes Todd McCarthy.

CANNES — Brandishing an ambition it’s likely no film, including this one, could entirely fulfill, The Tree of Life is nonetheless a singular work, an impressionistic metaphysical inquiry into mankind’s place in the grand scheme of things that releases waves of insights amidst its narrative imprecisions. This fifth feature in Terrence Malick’s eccentric four-decade career is a beauteous creation that ponders the imponderables, asks the questions that religious and thoughtful people have posed for millennia and provokes expansive philosophical musings along with intense personal introspection. As such, it is hardly a movie for the masses and will polarize even buffs, some of whom may fail to grasp the connection between the depiction of the beginnings of life on Earth and the travails of a 1950s Texas family. But there are great, heady things here, both obvious and evanescent, more than enough to qualify this as an exceptional and major film. Critical passions, pro and con, along with Brad Pitt in one of his finest performances, will stir specialized audiences to attention, but Fox Searchlight will have its work cut out for it in luring a wider public.

Shot three years ago and molded and tinkered with ever since by Malick and no fewer than five editors, The Tree of Life is shaped in an unconventional way, not as a narrative with normal character arcs and dramatic tension but more like a symphony with several movements each expressive of its own natural phenomena and moods. Arguably, music plays a much more important role here than do words — there is some voice-over but scarcely any dialogue at all for nearly an hour, whereas the soaring, sometimes grandiose soundtrack, comprised of 35 mostly classical excerpts drawn from Bach, Brahms, Berlioz, Mahler, Holst, Respighi, Gorecki and others in addition to the contributions of Alexandre Desplat, dominates in the way it often did in Stanley Kubrick’s work.

Indeed, this comparison is inevitable, as Tree is destined to be endlessly likened to 2001: A Space Odyssey, due to the spacy imagery of undefinable celestial lights and formations as well as because of its presentation of key hypothetical moments in the evolution of life on this planet. There are also equivalent long stretches of silence and semi-boredom designed, perhaps, to provide some time to muse about matters rarely raised in conventional narrative films.

That Malick intends to think large is indicated by an opening quotation from the Book of Job, in which God intimidates the humble man by demanding, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” Job is not cited again but is more or less paraphrased when, in moments of great personal distress, a smalltown mother cries out, “Lord, why? Where are you?” and “What are we to you?”

Tree doesn’t answer these questions but fashions a relationship between its big picture perspective and its intimate story that crucially serves the film’s philosophical purposes. Much of the early-going is devoted to spectacular footage of massive natural phenomena, both in space and on Earth; gaseous masses, light and matter in motion, volcanic explosions, fire and water, the creation and growth of cells and organisms, eventually the evolution of jellyfish and even dinosaurs, represented briefly by stunningly realistic creatures, one of which oddly appears to express compassion for another.

Juxtaposed with this are the lamentations of a mother (Jessica Chastain) for a son who has just died, in unexplained circumstances, and for a time it seems that placing the everyday doings of the O’Brien family of a quiet Texas town in the shadow of the seismic convulsions pertaining to the planet’s creation represents an inordinately elaborate way of expressing what Bogart said in Casablanca, that “the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

But while that may be true, it is also the case that those very problems, and everything else that people experience, are all that matter at the time one is experiencing them and are therefore of surpassing importance. Whatever else can — and will — be said about it, Tree gets the balance of its extraordinary dual perspective, between the cosmic and the momentary, remarkably right, which holds it together even during its occasional uncertain stretches.

Least effective is the contemporary framing material centered on the oldest O’Brien kid, Jack, portrayed as a middle-aged man by Sean Penn. A successful architect, Jack looks troubled and preoccupied as he moves through a world defined by giant Houston office towers and atriums shot so as to resemble secular cathedrals. While the connection to Jack’s childhood years is clear, the dramatic contributions of these largely wordless scenes are weak, even at the end, when a sense of reconciliation and closure is sought by the sight of flowers and disparate souls gathering on a beach in a way that uncomfortably resembles hippie-dippy reveries of the late 1960s.

But the climactic shortfall only marginally saps the impact of the central story of family life. Occupying a pleasant but not lavish home on a wide dirt street in a town that matches one’s idealized vision of a perfect 1950s community (it’s actually Smithville, population 3,900, just southeast of Austin and previously seen in Hope Floats), the family is dominated by a military veteran father (Pitt) who lays down the law to his three boys seemingly more by rote than due to any necessity. He’s compulsively physical with them, playfully, affectionately and violently, and yet rigidly holds something back.

Within Malick’s scheme of things, Dad represents nature, while Mom (Chastain) stands for grace. Great pals among themselves, Jack (Hunter McCracken), R.L. (Pitt look-alike Laramie Eppler) and Steve (Tye Sheridan) range all over town and would seem to enjoy near-ideal circumstances in which to indulge their youth.

But working in a manner diametrically opposed to that of theater dramatists inclined to spell everything out, Malick opens cracks and wounds by inflection, indirection and implication. Using fleet camerawork and jump-cutting that combine to intoxicating effect, the picture builds to unanticipated levels of disappointment and tragedy, much of it expressed with a minimum of dialogue in the final stages of Pitt’s terrific performance.

Embodying the American ideal with his clean-cut good looks, open face, look-you-in-the-eyes directness and strong build, Pitt’s Mr. O’Brien embodies the optimism and can-do attitude one associates with the post-war period. But this man had other, unfulfilled dreams — he became “sidetracked,” as he says — and as his pubescent oldest son begins to display a troublesome rebelliousness, fractures begins to show in his own character as well, heartbreakingly so.

Voice-over snippets suggestive of states of mind register more importantly than dialogue, while both are trumped by the diverse musical elements and the rumblings and murmurs of nature, which have all been blended in a masterful sound mix. Emmanuel Lubezki outdoes himself with cinematography of almost unimaginable crispness and luminosity. As in The New World, the camera is constantly on the move, forever reframing in search of the moment, which defines the film’s impressionistic manner.

Production designer Jack Fisk and costume designer Jacqueline West make indispensable contributions to creating the film’s world. That not a single image here seems fake or artificial can only be the ultimate praise for the work of senior visual effects supervisor Dan Glass and his team, while the presence of Douglas Trumbull as visual effects consultant further cements the film’s connection to 2001.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Competition
Release: May 27 (Fox Searchlight)
Production: River Road Entertainment
Cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Fiona Shaw, Irene Bedard, Jessica Fuselier, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan
Director-screenwriter: Terrence Malick
Producers: Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill
Executive producer: Donald Rosenfeld
Director of photography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Production design: Jack Fisk
Costume designer: Jacqueline West
Editors: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa
Music: Alexandre Desplat
PG-13 rating, 138 minutes

THE TREE OF LIFE

Terrence or Terry Malick

Terrence Malick was not on hand for the Tree Of Life press call, press conference and red carpet today in Cannes.

Producers Grant Hill, Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner, Brad Pitt (who also stars in the film) and female lead Jessica Chastain were all present. The reason given for Malick’s absence was simply that he is “Mr Malick is very shy.” Sean Penn came in from Haiti in time for the red carpet premiere. Pitt waxed lyrical on Malick’s shooting style saying he had been inspired. “He’s jovial, sweet. He finds pleasure in the day,” and later added that working with him “has changed everything I’ve done since.”

 

Dir/scr: Terrence Malick. US. 2011. 138mins

A cinematic symphony more than a classic narrative film, Terrence Malick’s long-awaited The Tree Of Life has moments of breathtaking visual and aural beauty, but in the end it has us longing for the days of Badlands, Days Of Heaven or The Thin Red Line, when the Texan auteur also knew how to spin a good yarn. In his previous films, a sense of wonder at the mysteries of nature, the human spirit and the cosmos was always there in the background, lifting, contrasting and sometimes ironically critiquing the main story. In The Tree Of Life, it very nearly is the story — and the result is a cinematic credo about spiritual transcendence which, while often shot through with poetic yearning, preaches too directly to its audience. If ever a whole film were on the nose, this is it.

Smoky nebulae, gushing lava, the corpuscular pulse of flowing magma, sunrise and star-rise, amoeba and jellyfish, hammerhead sharks and CGI dinosaurs all feature.

The reputation of Malick, the presence of Brad Pitt (who also co-produced), and the packaging of the film as a unique cinematic experience – though not, it should be noted, a 3D one – will help at the box office. And the mixture of boos and applause that greeted the film’s Cannes press premiere suggest that some media reactions will be more upbeat than this one. But if it’s true, as some reports suggest, that the film’s budget exceeded the $32m initially announced, breaking even is going to be a struggle. The Tree Of Life is a more focused film, and a better one, than Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain – but that pompous New Age saga’s poor box-office performance is still probably a good benchmark for a film that requires a serious leap of faith, and poker-straight faces, from its audience.

The quotation from the Book Of Job that introduces the story signals the fact that we’re in Biblical territory, in the field of parable rather than the muddy swamp of narrative realism. In the first of the film’s four movements – to use a musical metaphor that is touched on more than once in the story – fragments of the lives we will be following are woven together impressionistically, linked by Malick’s familiar poetic, rhetorical voiceovers: characters (not always identifiable at first) talk about the two opposing life forces, strong but selfish nature and vulnerable but selfless grace, which are soon identified respectively with the stern father (Pitt, solid in the role) and the radiant, loving mother (a bravura performance from Chastain) of the 1950s suburban family we begin to follow.

A tragedy – the death of their 19-year-old son – is announced via telegram; we cut to a city scene, where a drawn and intense Sean Penn drifts between his boxy modernist steel and glass house and the New York skyscraper where he works, apparently as an architect. We work hard at first to connect these plot scraps — the task not being made any easier by the almost complete absence of dialogue.

The second part of the film, designed with the help of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner special-effects veteran Douglas Trumbull, is the most audacious: an impressionistic cinematic history of the universe in around 20 minutes, from its beginnings in cosmic dust to the appearance of life on earth. Smoky nebulae, gushing lava, the corpuscular pulse of flowing magma, sunrise and star-rise, amoeba and jellyfish, hammerhead sharks and CGI dinosaurs all feature in a virtuoso peformance that stands in the same relation to the rest of the film that a flashy guitar solo does to the main melody.

It’s only after around 55 minutes that the main narrative kicks in. We’re back with the family we met earlier, but years before that telegram. Three boys are born to a couple who live in a classic American suburban house with a lawn outside dominated by a spreading oak tree. Dad, a former air force officer, works in a factory and hopes that certain patents he has taken out will make the family rich, though his real passion is classical music (he plays the organ in church). Mom is a housewife and homemaker. Gradually conflict develops between the authoritarian father and his eldest son, Jack (an excellent, intense debut by young McCracken).

We’re in Oedipal territory here, and in case we don’t get the message, Jack is given on-the-nose, character-defying lines like one he delivers to pa: “I’m as bad as you are – I’m more like you than her.” By now, we have realised that the Sean Penn character, who has taken to wandering anguished in his designer suit through rocky deserts, is Jack in adulthood. The film’s short final movement has him greeting all those he has known on a beach, in a valedictory dream sequence that does pack a certain elegiac punch.

The camera is always moving, panning, gliding away, as if impatient to get to the imminent truth that lies behind this shabby reality – a truth that finds its expression in the soundtrack of transcendental choral or stately orchestral music by composers from Respighi and Mahler to Taverner and Gorecki. The problem is, we need a little shabby reality every now and then. That’s how cinematic poetry is earned.

Production companies: River Road Entertaiment, Plan B Entertainment, Brace Cove Productions
International sales: Summit Entertainment, http://www.summit-ent.com
Producers: Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill
Executive producer: Donald Rosenfeld
Co-executive producers: Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz
Co-producer: Nicolas Gonda
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editors: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa
Production designer: Jack Fisk
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Main cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Fiona Shaw, Irene Bedard, Jessica Fuselier, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan
 
 
Brad Pitt Tree Of Life

 

 

It’s not often that Hollywood gets to review a Terrence Malick film, so when the opportunity arises, most everyone will be shouting their opinions from the rooftops.

The intense scrutiny and madhouse press scramble is a juxtaposition with its filmmaker, the enigmatic Malick, for whom “The Tree of Life,” is his fifth directorial feature released in an over forty year career. In “Tree of Life,” his first film since 2005’s star-studded “The New World,” Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain star in what is, at least in part and at its most reduced, the story of a man whose parents’ polar-opposite personalities and techniques lead to a confused and troubled adulthood.

Pitt plays the hard-scrabble father and Chastain the generous and free spirited mother, with Penn their eventual progeny.

There’s much more to the film, however, and after its debut screening at the Cannes Film Festival, critics were eager to give their take. Here’s a sampling of what a number of notable film voices have said about “The Tree of Life,” which opens to the general public on May 27th.

While big muscles, superhero bluster and wedding-related insanity are already heating up the box office this summer movie season, it’s a long-awaited tale from a legendary filmmaker that is serving as the most highly anticipated release for true movie connoisseurs.

Terrence Malick, a two-time Oscar nominated writer and director who makes up for the sparcity of his releases with their often lush textures and stories, is set to debut his eighth directorial feature, “Tree of Life.” Sporting an all-star cast featuring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, it tells the story of a child growing up in the 1950’s with parents practicing wildly divergent personalities and methods.

In this exclusive clip, Pitt, the father, teaches his son Jack — who will grow up into Penn’s character — to fight and defend himself. The aggression straddles the border between caring and reckless, with Pitt’s determination and clenched jaw leaving the viewer questioning whether he’s nurturing or something darker.

Here’s the film’s synopsis; check out the clip below it. The film opens May 27th.

From Terrence Malick, the acclaimed director of such classic films as BADLANDS, DAYS OF HEAVEN and THE THIN RED LINE, THE TREE OF LIFE is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950’s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick’s signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

The Tree of Life

'The Tree of Life'Fox Searchlight will release ‘The Tree of Life,’ starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, on May 27th in the U.S.
sean pennSean Penn also stars in ‘The Tree of Life.’
 
A Fox Searchlight release presented with River Road Entertainment. (International sales: Summit Entertainment, London.) Produced by Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill. Executive producer, Donald Rosenfeld. Co-producer, Nicolas Gonda. Co-executive producers, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz. Directed, written by Terrence Malick.
Mr. O’Brien – Brad Pitt Jack – Sean Penn Mrs. O’Brien – Jessica Chastain Grandmother – Fiona Shaw Messenger – Irene Bedard Guide – Jessica Fuselier Young Jack – Hunter McCracken R.L. – Laramie Eppler Steve – Tye Sheridan

Few American filmmakers are as alive to the splendor of the natural world as Terrence Malick, but even by his standards, “The Tree of Life” represents something extraordinary. The iconoclastic director’s long-awaited fifth feature is in many ways his simplest yet most challenging work, a transfixing odyssey through time and memory that melds a young boy’s 1950s upbringing with a magisterial rumination on the Earth’s origins. Result is pure-grade art cinema destined primarily for the delectation of Malick partisans and adventurous arthouse-goers, but with its cast names and see-it-to-believe-it stature, this inescapably divisive picture could captivate the zeitgeist for a spell.A magnum opus that’s been kicking around inside Malick’s head for decades and awaited by his fans for almost as long, the film will certainly invite even-more-vociferous-than-usual charges of pretension and overambition, criticisms that are admittedly not entirely without merit here. Taking the director’s elusive, elliptical style perhaps as far as it will go, “The Tree of Life” is nothing less than a hymn to the glory of creation, an exploratory, often mystifying 138-minute tone poem that will test any Malick non-fan’s patience for whispery voiceover and flights of lyrical abstraction.

Critical response will be passionately split (judging by the noisy mixture of boos and applause at the Cannes press screening), even among those who share Malick’s poetic orientation and appreciate his willingness to place A-list stars and visual effects in service of unapologetically spiritual and philosophical concerns. Still others may find the picture underwhelming in light of its epic journey to the screen — a troubled six-year gestation period replete with casting woes and editing delays; the shuttering of U.S. distributor Apparition before Fox Searchlight swooped in; and a last-minute tussle over whether its U.K. release date would trump its world premiere in competition at Cannes.

And so it’s only fitting that “The Tree of Life” should demand a measure of patience. The same could of course be said of Malick’s four other features, all veiled parables of man’s fall from grace and the corruption of an irretrievable innocence. With his new film, Malick has essentially parted the veil. He has abandoned the oblique historical narratives of his previous two pictures, “The Thin Red Line” and “The New World,” to tell an intimate wisp of a story that allows him to address his cosmic concerns in the most direct, least compromised manner possible. Yet far from feeling slight, the film surprisingly emerges as Malick’s most emotionally accessible work since 1978’s “Days of Heaven,” so primal and recognizable are the childlike perceptions and feelings he puts onscreen.

An opening quotation from the book of Job (“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”) lays the celestial groundwork as the film eases the viewer into the preadolescence of Jack O’Brien (Hunter McCracken), the eldest of three boys in midcentury small-town Texas. The first of numerous narrators speaks of two possible paths through life: the way of nature, embodied by the boys’ stern taskmaster of a father (Brad Pitt), and the way of grace, represented by their sweet, nurturing mother (Jessica Chastain).

The early reels convey the arc of Jack’s life as a series of subjective impressions, leaping ahead to the pivotal moment when Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien receive word that one of Jack’s brothers has died at age 19, an occurrence that is neither lingered on nor really explained. Before long, Jack is a grown man (a weary-looking Sean Penn), seen roaming the executive offices of a Houston high-rise and speaking on the phone with his father, who has clearly not mellowed with age.

Emmanuel Lubezki’s continually mobile camera, occasionally using wide-angle lenses, prowls through these early scenes as though observing them from a side angle; the visual restlessness mirrors Jack’s own inner turmoil, echoed by the inchoate voices we hear in his head. Time and space themselves seem to destabilize, and the film, as though unable to abide the present any longer, retreats into the ancient past.

It’s at this point, roughly 20 minutes in, that “The Tree of Life” undergoes arguably the most extreme temporal shift in the history of cinema. Comparisons to “2001: A Space Odyssey” are perhaps intended, not least because Stanley Kubrick’s special-effects creator Douglas Trumbull served as a visual consultant on Malick’s eye-candy evocation of the dawn of time (conceived by several visual-effects houses but designed with minimal reliance on CGI). We observe a flurry of awe-inspiring images at astronomical, biological, macro- and microscopic levels: a nebula expanding in outer space; cells multiplying in a frenzy; a school of shimmering jellyfish; darkness illuminated by a volcanic eruption; a bubbling primordial ooze.

Viewers may not always be sure of what they’re looking at during this sequence, but that’s no hindrance to appreciating the sublime imagery or the rhapsodic force of the accompanying choral and orchestral tracks. Yet the director isn’t inclined to linger, not even on the stunning occasional glimpse of dinosaurs, whose presence on Earth is observed as matter-of-factly as the cataclysm that brings their chapter to a close.

Texas suburbia comes back into focus, and the film devotes its remaining 100 or so minutes to a sensitive portrait of Jack’s upbringing, rendered here as a sort of symphony with many movements, often set to Alexandre Desplat’s sometimes majestic, sometimes ominous score. As raggedly structured as this portion of the film is (five editors handled the disjunctive yet intuitive cutting), Malick couldn’t be more attuned to the personal joys, sorrows and insecurities of this boy’s life, and his tactile images seem suffused with a Norman Rockwell-esque nostalgia even as they seek to deconstruct it.

From the tension that sets in whenever Jack’s father appears to the boys’ exhilarating sense of freedom as they run through DDT clouds billowing from a spray rig, scene after scene brims with intimate, tenderly observed details, while the rural locations enable the helmer’s signature shots of rustling grass and water-reflected sunlight, abetted by richly textured sound design. The camera whips through the family’s Craftsman-style house (lovingly appointed by Malick’s longtime production designer Jack Fisk) until it comes to seem like home.

The link between Jack’s story and the film’s prehistoric reverie is never made explicit, though its essential meaning could scarcely be plainer or more deeply felt. The rare film to urgently question, yet also accept, the presence of God in a fallen world, “Tree of Life” understands that every childhood is a creation story unto itself, and just as a new planet is formed by the elements, so an emerging soul is irrevocably shaped by the forces that nurture it.

No one exerts a more domineering influence in Jack’s life, or on the film itself, than his father. Played with iron-jawed intensity by Pitt, Mr. O’Brien is the very picture of intimidation — a strict, upright disciplinarian who, though not immune to affection, is not above using hugs and kisses as instruments of control. One moment, in which Jack considers a retaliatory act of violence, is both amusing and shockingly blunt. And yet Malick extends the father the same compassion he grants the mother, played with heartrending vulnerability by Chastain as a woman who strives to protect, defend and console her children at all times.

Young McCracken makes an outstanding screen debut, his eyes seeming to reflect a sad wisdom beyond his years; thesp captures Jack’s fear of his father as well as the disturbing ways in which he takes after him. As his younger brothers, Laramie Eppler and Tye Sheridan are wonderfully authentic.

Penn’s Jack receives the least screen time of the three adult principals, and he figures into the film’s most abstruse, surreal passages, which frame him against a series of desert backdrops and make direct use of biblical imagery. In these moments, “The Tree of Life” seems to grope desperately, if movingly, for the sort of grand resolution its mysteries by definition cannot offer. But by that point it’s clear Malick, after five films over nearly 40 years, hasn’t given up his search for new ways of seeing truth and beauty — in life, or in cinema.

Camera (Deluxe color prints), Emmanuel Lubezki; editors, Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa; music, Alexandre Desplat; production designer, Jack Fisk; art director, David Crank; set decorator, Jeanette Scott; costume designer, Jacqueline West; sound (DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS), John Pritchett, Kirk Francis; supervising sound editor/sound designer, Craig Berkey; co-supervising sound editor/sound designer, Erik Aadahl; supervising re-recording mixer, Berkey; senior visual effects supervisor, Dan Glass; visual effects, Prime Focus VFX, Double Negative, One of Us, Method Studios, Evil Eye Pictures; stunt coordinator, Jeff P. Schwan; line producer, Susan Kirr; associate producers, Sandhya Shardanand, Ivan Bess; assistant director, Bobby Bastarache; second unit camera, Paul Atkins, Peter Simonite; casting, Francine Maisler, Vicky Boone. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 16, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 138 MIN.

Contact Justin Chang at justin.chang@variety.com

Brad Pitt: “This film is universal. Terrence Malick wants to speak to all cultures.”

 

 

 

 

Brad Pitt: 'This film is universal. Terrence Malick wants to speak to all cultures.'

Brad Pitt © CR

The actors Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain attended the Press Conference for Terrence Malik’s latest flim, The Tree of Life, accompanied by the film’s four producers: Sarah Green, Dede Gardner, Bill Pohlad et Grant Hill.

Brad Pitt on the film:

“It would take many days to explain the film’s creative process. The screenplay was wonderfully written, very intense, but Terrence Malik didn’t want to follow it slavishly. He likes to capture the truth between the lines. That’s why this film feels so fresh. On top of that, it was almost entirely shot in natural daylight.”

“This film is universal, Terrence Malick wants to speak to all cultures.”

Bill Pohlad on the fact that Terrence Malick was not present to discuss his film:

“He doesn’t want to discuss his film. He wants the public to see it as a poem, for everyone to interpret as they see fit.”

Jessica Chastain describes her collaboration with Terrence Malick:

“I worked with Terrence for 3 months before shooting. He suggested I study paintings which captured the idea of grace. During shooting, we didn’t think about the final result. We let go and lived entirely in the present. At one point in the film, a butterfly comes to rest on my hand. It wasn’t in the script, but Terence creates the kind of set on which such things can happen.”

Bill Pohlad onTerrence Malick:

“He is someone who consults everyone. While shooting, he wanted to know how this story affected us personally. He loves to hear a rangeof opinions on everything, even the editing. That’s why he used many editors. He loves having fresh input at every moment.”

Brad Pitt explains the link between the film and his childhood:

“I was raised as a Christian and when I was young, I asked a lot of questions in order to understand things. These same questions are asked in the film, which is why it moved me.”

 

Cannes
Un Certain Regard

Outside Satan

(Hors Satan)

(France)

'Outside Satan'‘Outside Satan’
 
A Pyramide Distribution release (in France) of a 3B production, in co-production with CRRAV Nord-Pas de Callais, Le Fresnoy, in association with Cinemage 5, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Cinema, Contact Film, Centre National du Cinema et de L’Image Animee (CNC), with the contribution of La Region Nord-Pas de Calais. (International sales: Pyramide Intl., Paris.) Executive producers, Jean Brehat, Rachid Bouchareb, Muriel Merlin. Directed, written by Bruno Dumont.
With: David Dewaele, Alexandra Lematre, Valerie Mestdagh, Sonia Barthelemy, Juliette Bacquet, Christophe Bon, Dominique Caffier, Aurore Broutin.

Another “WTF?” film from Gallic writer-director Bruno Dumont (“L’Humanite”), “Outside Satan” will leave plenty of viewers scratching their heads, with some of them thinking the pic’s titular evil is the auteur himself. Maddening, pretentious, hypnotic and transcendent in roughly equal measure, Dumont’s minimalist study of an oddball poacher and the farm girl who keeps him company contains only a dozen “dramatic” events, but they all register indelibly, such is the director’s talent for making the minor appear momentous — and maybe religious. Word-of-mouth about the pic’s grisly violence and unsolvable mysteries should make “Satan” a must-see among artfilm aficionados.Set in and around a scruffy hamlet near Boulogne sur Mer, the film opens with a guy — actually, the Guy, as he’s known in the credits — receiving a sandwich from an unseen person behind a door, then kneeling to pray as the sun rises over the marshland. The Guy (David Dewaele) then meets up with the Girl (Alexandra Lematre), and the two walk silently down a long road. At roughly the 10-minute mark, the film’s first words — “I can’t take anymore,” says the Girl — will fairly describe the sentiments of any viewer who stumbled in unaware of Dumont’s austere provocations.

After awhile the director does reveal what the Girl can’t take — a problem solved by the Guy in what he’d reckoned was the “only way.” Dumont loves to introduce patterns, narrative and formal, and then modify them in subtle and sometimes inscrutable ways. The Guy, who might bear a vague resemblance to Jesus were it not for his perpetually glum expression, goes back to the door for another sandwich, which this time we see is given by the Girl. The Guy prays again, too, but accompanied by the Girl, who dresses all in black and sports spiky hair.

Then, disturbing the bucolic landscape, with its mountains, sand and sea, there’s a string of violent deaths, most of which Dumont reveals incrementally so that at first (or even later) they appear merely as very nasty injuries. There are also a few events so supernatural that they can only be described as miracles — religious ones, if you will, but such an interpretation isn’t required. Halfway through the pic, the Guy knocks on a door yet again in trade for food — but this time it’s a different door! Among the film’s more stubbornly withheld revelations: What’s behind door No. 2?

Like Dumont’s “Twentynine Palms” and “Life of Jesus” (give or take the Cannes Grand Prix-winning “L’Humanite”), “Outside Satan” flirts with all-out absurdity, as if managing to keep it at bay will be the director’s own miracle, highly subject to interpretation. Less debatable are the film’s technical merits, with d.p. Yves Cape delivering naturalistic beauty on a wide canvas, and the on-location sound work capturing every minute nuance of bird-chirps, cock-crows, and blasts of both wind and, uh, shotgun.

Camera (color, widescreen), Yves Cape; editors, Dumont, Basile Belkhiri; costume designer, Alexandra Charles; sound (Dolby Digital), Emmanuel Croset; line producer, Muriel Merlin; assistant directors, Claude Debonnet, Cyril Pavaux; casting, Debonnet. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 16, 2011. Running time: 110 MIN.
Cannes
Competition

House of Tolerance

L’Apollonide: Souvenirs de la maison close

(France)

 A Haut et Court release of a Les Films du Lendemain, My New Picture production in association with Arte France Cinema, with the participation of Arte France, Canal Plus, Cinecinema, CNC, with the support of Region Ile-de-France, Media, in association with Soficinema 6 Development, Soficinema 7, Cinemage 5. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Kristina Larsen, Bertrand Bonello. Directed, written by Bertrand Bonello.
With: Hafsia Herzi, Celine Sallette, Jasmine Trinca, Adele Haenel, Alice Barnole, Iliana Zabeth, Noemie Lvovsky, Xavier Beauvois, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Jacques Nolot, Laurent Lacotte.

Arguably writer-helmer Bertrand Bonello’s most straightforward pic, and none the worse for it, “House of Tolerance” explores life in an upmarket brothel at the turn of the last century. Although there’s heaps of nudity, disturbing violence, weirdness and a general air of bored erotic lassitude, all hallmarks of Bonello’s work (“The Pornographer,” “Tiresia,” “On War”), pic also presents an accessible, credible portrait of what life was like for sex workers way back when, with all the career’s pleasures (few) and perils (many). Subject matter and comely cast should get offshore distribs casting come-hither looks in the pic’s direction.Unfolding mostly within the confines of a single building and featuring a would-be utopia not unlike the commune in “On War,” the story takes place in the Apollonide, a bordello run by former hooker Marie-France (helmer-thesp Noemie Lvovsky). Madame Marie-France treats her femme staff relatively well for the time, apart from the fact that she docks money from their earnings for all their fancy finery, keeping them permanently in debt and therefore virtual slaves to the “house of tolerance,” as such places were known then.

Of the 12 femmes working there, about six come to the fore as defined characters. At 28, embittered Clotilde (Celine Sallette, “Regular Lovers”) is nearly on the scrap heap, but her great legs still make her a favorite of a dilettante artist (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing), with whom Clotilde is half in love. Cheerful Julie (Italian thesp Jasmine Trinca) also has a regular john (Jacques Nolot) who dotes on her, but not so deeply that he’ll help her out of her debt, despite his fortune. Statuesque beauty Lea (Adele Haenel) has many admirers whom she quietly despises; Algerian Samira (Hafsia Herzi) is more easygoing, and is happy to show the ropes to new girl Pauline (Iliana Zabeth, whose zaftig curves are perfect for the period).

Unluckiest of all is Madeleine (newcomer Alice Barnole), a sweet-natured naif whose trusting nature ruins her career when one client (Laurent Lacotte) ties her to a bed and then slashes her cheeks with a knife, leaving her hideously scarred and thus earning her the nickname “the Woman Who Laughs,” an allusion to the Victor Hugo novel “The Man Who Laughs.” Even so, she becomes an object of fascination to some of the clients, including one (helmer Xavier Beauvois) who pays just to sit and talk with her.

Bonello leaves the aud in no doubt that theirs is a hard, risky job. A chilling scene depicting the women being examined by a doctor (played by a real gynecologist, per press notes), searching for any traces of disease or pregnancy, underscores the potential deadliness of the profession at the time. Elsewhere, mention is made of ridiculous scientific studies from the period, then accepted as fact, that prostitutes had smaller heads than average, just like thieves, a supposed sign of low intelligence.

These women, however, are clearly not stupid, just desperate, although the script makes it clear that most of them freely chose this profession rather than become seamstresses, servants or agricultural workers. They may fake their pleasure for the clients, but there are still good times to be had downstairs before retiring to the bedroom, chatting, playing games and drinking endless bottles of champagne while wearing the fanciest, gaudiest outfits high-class brothel money can buy. If the Cannes competition jury gave out prizes for costumes, Anais Romand would be a prohibitive favorite for her intricate, lusciously detailed work here.

Bonello’s regular d.p. and partner Josee Deshaies does similarly exquisite work with the lensing, subtly modulating the lighting schemes from warm, golden hues to colder tones for the moments of quirky surrealism that give the pic a distinctive flavor, even if they’re a bit silly. Likewise, onetime musician Bonello’s self-penned score alongside use of playfully anachronistic soul music and ’60s garage-band tunes inject a contempo sensibility that keeps the period flavor from becoming too cloying. Without these perverse (not in the sexy sense) touches, the pic might have risked playing like “The Best Little Whorehouse in Paris” or a violent reworking of Louis Malle’s “Pretty Baby.”

Camera (color), Josee Deshaies; editor, Fabrice Rouaud; music, Bonello; production designer, Aude Cathelin; set decorator, Alain Guffroy; costume designer, Anais Romand; sound (Dolby Digital), Jean-Pierre Duret, Nicolas Moreau, Jean-Pierre Laforce; visual effects supervisor, Cedric Fayolle; assistant director, Elsa Amiel; casting, Deshaies. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 15, 2011. Running time: 125 MIN.
 

 

Cannes
Un Certain Regard

Stopped on Track

(Halt auf freier Strecke)

(Germany)

 

Read other reviews about this film

A Rommel Film production, in association with Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Arte, Iskremas Filmproduktion. (International sales: the Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Peter Rommel. Directed by Andreas Dresen.
With: Steffi Kuehnert, Milan Peschel, Talisa Lilli Lemke, Mika Nilson Seidel, Ursula Werner, Marie Rosa Tietjen, Otto Mellies, Christine Schorn, Thorsten Merten, Petra Anwar.

A German postal worker’s precious few months between diagnosis and death are chronicled with an acute and raw sense of honesty in “Stopped on Track.” Helmer Andreas Dresen’s latest slice-of-German-life, after such films as “Summer in Berlin” and “Cloud 9,” recounts how an apparently healthy father, and his wife and two kids, try to cope with the man’s ultimately fatal brain tumor. Pic’s standouts are the sharp dialogue, all of it improvised, and ace cast, a mix of thesps and non-pros. Dire subject matter might scare off some arthouse buyers, though fest selections and Euro cable buys are guaranteed.Like his geriatric sex romp “Cloud 9” (whose female protag, Ursula Werner, has a bit role here), “Stopped on Track” doesn’t have a screenplay credit; the director and regular collaborator Cooky Ziesche came up with an outline of the characters and scenes that were then developed on set with the actors. The process recalls that of Mike Leigh, and the payoff is similar, with dialogue that sounds entirely natural and actors totally at ease with their lines.

Simone (Steffi Kuehnert) and Frank (Milan Peschel) are an average German couple who have just moved into a new home when they learn that Frank has an inoperable brain tumor and only a few months to live. Early hospital scene is one of the film’s strongest, with an impressively held two-shot of a silently crying Simone and a dazed Frank as they listen to the doctor’s clinical explanation.

Bulk of the pic follows the couple’s routine at home in the dark months — also literally, it’s winter — that follow after Frank and Simone finally succeed in breaking the bad news to Mika (Mika Nilson Seidel), their cute 8-year-old son, and Lila (Talisa Lilli Lemke), their diving-fanatic teenage daughter.

As the tumor grows, Frank’s behavior becomes more erratic and even hostile; he also starts forgetting things and having physical problems. This takes its toll not only on Frank but also on those around him. When it is decided the family will opt for home care rather than hospital care, the soothing presence of a kind nurse (Petra Anwar) proves vital.

As in his other portraits of lower-middle class life in the Berlin region, Dresen’s approach is strictly no-frills. Besides an ill-handled nighttime outing to a natatorium and his decision to let Frank use a camera-equipped iPhone as a sort of confessional, the director’s simple focus on the actors and what they say and do delivers impressive results. One of the strongest sequences starts with Frank and Simone simply kissing each other, and expresses far better than any type of flashback everything they used to have and will lose.

Peschel (“Sometime in August”) is impressive in the attention-grabbing role, but Kuehnert, from Dresen’s “Grill Point,” is his equal as a woman who forces herself to cope with an impossible situation. Non-pro child actors are both well cast, with Seidel especially expressive in a wordless scene in which he’s caressed by his bedridden father. Lemke’s last line is a doozy.

Technically, this HD-shot film looks fine, except in the severely underlit pool sequences. Peschel occasionally makes up for the lack of a traditional score, which might have sugarcoated the proceedings too much, by taking out a guitar and accompanying himself, as Frank, on some rock songs.

Camera (HD), Michael Hammon; editor, Joerg Hauschild; production designer, Susanne Hopf; costume designer, Sabine Greunig; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Schmidt. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 15, 2011. Running time: 110 MIN.

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY 15th MAY

THE ARTIST

Synopsis

Hollywood 1927. George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky’s the limit – major movie stardom awaits.

 

 

Press kit download (PDF)

 

 
 

 

Thomas Langmann : 'Accompanying a dreamer, that's the essence of my work'

Michel Hazanavicius © DR

Michel Hazanavicius talks about the origins of his film, The Artist, In Competition, accompanied by his two leading actors Bérénice Béjo and Jean Dujardin, his producer Thomas Langmann, his composer Ludovic Bource, and his director of photography Guillaume Schiffman.

Michel Hazanavicius on his choice of a silent film
“It was an idea that I’d had for a long time. Silent films are pure cinema and are responsible for producing some of the biggest directors. I knew that I didn’t want to do a pastiche as silent films are best suited to melodrama. Take the example of Chaplin: he did nothing but melodramas, but always with a comic tone.”
Bérénice Béjo on her role

“I watched City Girl by Murnau… I realised that the actors were very modern. I did research on Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and Marlene Dietrich, who I must have watched in more than 150 clips on YouTube. I then read the screenplay whilst thinking about all these actresses. I did this until I reached the point, where during the shooting of a scene, I said to myself “I am Peppy Miller””.
Thomas Langmann on his collaboration with his director

“With all this mania for 3D films, Michel was someone who wanted to create a film about the big names of cinema and wanted to do something different, that’s what I really liked. (…) Accompanying a dreamer, that’s the essence of my work”.

 

Michel Hazanavicius

Michel HAZANAVICIUS

Credits

Actors

Contacts and useful links

Production

LA PETITE REINE – 20 rue de Saint Petersbourg 75008 Paris – T : +33 (0)1 44 90 73 90 – ombeline.marchon@lapetitereine.fr STUDIO 37 (FRANCE) FRANCE 3 CINEMA (FRANCE) LA CLASSE AMERICAINE (FRANCE) JD PROD (FRANCE)

Distribution

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT – T : +33 (0)1 72 25 00 00 – www.warnerbros.fr

French press

MOTEUR! – Dominique Segall – T : +33 (0)1 42 56 95 95 – moteur@maiko.fr

International press

PR CONTACT – Phil Symes & Ronaldo Mourao – T : +55 21 3344 4272 – festival@theprcontact.com

Stopped on Track: Death as an ode to life

 
Stopped on Track: Death as an ode to life

Andreas Dresen © DR

German director Andreas Dresen has made the selection at Cannes for the second time. In 2009, he presented Cloud 9,  the story of a married, sixty plus woman who suddenly falls in love with a new man. This year,  he continues with the theme of  untimely events with Stopped on Track (Halt auf freier Strecke), a film about illness and death.
Franck receives his diagnosis : his brain tumour means that he only has several months left to live. It is out of the question that he should stay in hospital: he therefore lives his last moments surrounded by loved ones and receiving treatment at home. Whereas some people keep a diary, Franck chooses another form of expression: his  iPhone.

In order to create a maximum of spontaneity in his film, Andreas Dresen did not write a script as such. The dialogues were completely improvised by the actors. “We interviewed staff in palliative care, doctors and people who had lost loved ones to terminal illnesses.  We filmed every interview,  we compiled them all and then discussed them with the actors.  That is how we created the characters.”

The storyline in Stopped on Track inevitably echoes Restless, which was presented at the opening of Un Certain Regard. Both films follow the last days of two characters, but in contrast to Gus Van Sant, Andreas Dresen places his fated patient at the heart of the plot. Yet both directors express a common desire:  discourse about death as a means of celebrating life.

 

Un Certain Regard
 
Directed by :Andreas DRESEN 
Country:GERMANY
Year:2011
Duration:110.00 minutesThe movieVideosPhotosNewsPrint this pageSynopsis
The doctor told the truth. The days are numbered.
Why me and why now?
A man leaves wife and children behind, parents, friends, neighbours and yesterday’s lover, the people in his life.
Day by day a little farewell.
Words are getting rare, longer the silence.
In front of the window the year changes its colours.
Dying is a final work to do.
Not being alone while you are left behind alone, maybe that’s a good thing.
Press kit download (PDF)
English press kit STOPPED ON TRACK
Andreas DRESEN Credits
Andreas DRESEN – Director
Andreas DRESEN – Screenplay
Cooky ZIESCHE – Screenplay
Michael HAMMON – Cinematography
Susanne HOPF – Set Designer
Jörg HAUSCHILD – Film Editor
Peter SCHMIDT – Sound
Actors
Milan PESCHEL – Frank
Steffi KÜHNERT – Simone
Bernhard SCHÜTZ – Stefan
Talisa Lilly LEMKE – Lilly
Ursula WERNER – Renate
Mika Nilson SEIDEL – Mika
Otto MELLIES – Ernst
Contacts and useful links
Production
ROMMEL FILM E.K. – Peter ROMMEL – Fidicinstr. 40 10965 Berlin Germany – T : +49 (0)30 693 70 78 – F : +49 (0)30 692 95 75 – p.rommel@t-online.de RUNDFUNK BERLIN-BRANDENBURG (GERMANY) ARTE (GERMANY)
Distribution
PANDORA FILM GMBH & CO. VERLEIH KG – T : 0049 6021 – 150 66 0 – verleih@pandorafilm.comwww.pandorafilm.de
French press
FILM | PRESS | PLUS – Richard LORMAND – T : +33 (0)9 70 44 98 65 – intlpress@aol.comwww.filmpressplus.com
International press
FILM | PRESS | PLUS – Richard LORMAND – T : +33 (0)9 7044 9865 – intlpress@aol.comwww.filmpressplus.com

Cécile de France immerses herself in the world of the Dardenne brothers

Les frères Dardenne © DR

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are amongst the most awarded directors in the Festival de Cannes’ history. Le Gamin au vélo, (The Kid with a Bike) is a minimalist story about a father-son relationship, and is their fifth film In Competition. Jérémie Rénier and Olivier Gourmet,  two Dardenne faithfuls, star alongside newcomer, Cécile de France.

Child, son, kid… Parent/child relationships are at the heart of this work by the Dardennes. The child with the bike is Cyril,, who is almost 12 years old. An angry boy, Cyril is obsessed by the idea of finding his father, who placed him in a home.  His encounter with Samantha, a hairdresser who allows him to stay at her house weekends, steers him away from violence. We do not know Samantha’s motivations. She is just there, full stop.

The Dardenne brothers wanted a “welcoming and sunny” actress for this role, who could embody both openness and change without recourse to psychology. They had considered Cécile de France, who is also Belgian. It is the first time they have involved a well-known actor/actress, not counting actors that have become well-known through Dardenne films, such as Jérémie Rénier and Olivier Gourmet in La Promesse. Incidentally we find these two Dardenne faifthfuls in Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike), the former as the boy’s father and the second in a smaller role.

Loyal to their methods, the Dardenne brothers wrote the screenplay in a year. They rehearsed for a month and a half with the actors in order to “break” their habits and get them into their roles, “automatically, not mechanically”. This work with the actors is very important in creating the naturalness and accuracy in the Dardennes’ films. This work has twice won Best Actor/Actress at Cannes: for Emilie Dequenne in 1999 (Rosetta) and for Olivier Gourmet in 2002 (Le Fils (The Son)).

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne attend Cannes very regularly, every three years in fact, since 1998.  Each time they are prize-winners and are amongst the few directors to have been awarded the Palme d’or twice, for Rosetta in 1999 and for L’Enfant in 2005.

Luc Dardenne: 'Cécile De France has a clearly luminous presence.'

Thomas Doret © AFP

The Dardenne brothers, in Competition for the fifth time with Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid on the Bike), answered questions from  journalists, accompanied by their producer, Denis Freyd and their two lead actors: Cécile De France and the young Thomas Doret.
  

The choice of actors
s

Jean-Pierre Dardenne : “We saw 150 kids, and we saw Thomas the first day. He was the fifth to audition. We saw a boy with a power of concentration, a presence. The audition took place over the phone, with two responses. Thomas managed to make the character at the end of the line exist, whereas many professional actors couldn’t do that. We said, ‘This might just be our Cyril,’ and so it was”.”

Luc Dardenne :  “Cécile De France clearly has a luminous presence. It was very important for the role of Samantha, because it is not at all clear why she wants so much to help this child. There is no psychological explanation.”

Acting with a child

Cécile De France : “For me, Thomas is not a child, but a colleague, an accomplice. He was a leader on set. He is in every scene. When I arrived at rehearsals, he knew the film better than I did. He was working from a table rasa – a blank sheet that he could fill out, whereas I had to rid myself of all the things that had been accumulated on the page. My experience on the one hand, his spontaneity and his investment on the other meant that we were really equals on set.”



On points in common between Clint Eastwood and the Dardenne brothers

Cécile De France: “Talent of course, but in the actual process, they are diametrically opposed. Clint Eastwood does not do rehearsals. He doesn’t attend costume fittings. He usually takes it in one shot. With the Dardenne brothers, there are a lot of rehearsals; there were seven costume sessions, and many takes. Clint Eastwood tries to capture the spontaneity, the magic of the moment. The actor does a lot of the preparation work on his own. With the brothers, one can take the time to look for the answer.”

 

Faye Dunaway receives the French “Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters” medal

 

 

 

 

Faye Dunaway receives the French “Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters” medal

Faye Dunaway © IFA/CR SvD
 
The French Culture Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, has conferred the “Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters” medal on Faye Dunaway. The American comedian, who was deeply moved by this decoration, occupies the place of honour on the poster advertising the 64th Festival de Cannes.

“It makes me particularly happy to pay tribute to an actress such as Faye Dunaway who has known how to combine glamour with vulnerability, and chicness with the ability to shock. (…) an actress who has appeared in films alongside some of the greatest actors: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford and even Johnny Depp, who you view as a prince“. From Bonnie and Clyde to Network, a film for which she received the Oscar for Best Actress, Frédéric Mitterrand went on to recall the long list of films in which Dunaway has starred, including Little Big Man and Arizona Dream. Neither did the Minister of Culture neglect to mention the first film she produced and directed, Yellow Bird. Faye Dunaway then revealed that she is currently working on directing her next film due to be released in November 2011.

The American actress, who was moved and honoured, explained that being an actress and film-maker “is a constant struggle. Making a film, organising a festival, it’s a real battle. But even though Art is a battle, it is Godlike because it is a fight for humanity”. Dunaway also took advantage of the medal-giving ceremony to express her admiration for some of her fellow actors: “Meryl Streep is fabulous. Johnny Depp is a king rather than a prince now, and Isabelle Huppert (President of the Jury in 2009), my favourite French actress, is wonderful“. Dunaway ended by admitting: “This medal means a lot to me because I have only received this type of decoration in France. Of course, I received an Oscar, but it’s not the same”.

 

news

Interview with Mahamat Saleh Haroun

 

 

 

 

Interview with Mahamat Saleh Haroun

Mahamat Saleh Haroun – CR

After participating in the Cinéfondation’s Atelier in 2005 for Daratt last year, Mahamat Saleh Haroun was awarded the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes for his film  Un Homme qui crie (A Screaming Man). Today, he is a member of the Feature Film Jury. An interview.
Following on from your prize in 2010, you are now a Jury member this year. How do you feel about this experience?
I feel very good about it. It is like being selected a second time! The country, which I represent, echoes the concerns of a large festival such as Cannes. It’s a strong message that’s being sent to Africa and the world over: when certain things from this continent captivate people, or tell something about Africa,  we want more. This should encourage a fair amount of people and young directors. My presence at Cannes sends a message of love to the people working in cinema in Africa and tells them they haven’t been forgotten.


What memories do you have of the Cinéfondation’s Atelier?

We were looked after, guided in order to meet people. It was a bit like a beginners’ stage, a sort of initiation.  We had access to everything, we met members of the Jury, they were very attentive to us and that helped a lot. This enabled us to meet people and once this had happened, I was able to move forward very easily in making films. These encounters have only strengthened with time and that is how one creates a network. The Atelier is a great catalyst.
There are certain recurrent themes  in your films, notably the political situation in Chad. Do you think it is easier to treat certain subjects using fiction and cinema?
 Yes, it seems to me that with fiction, the author injects a part of themselves, a part of their memory, into it and I really like that. For me,  all creations are political, they cannot be isolated from the environment that they were created in. I really like politics because I like manual work and it seems that cinema has slightly moved away from representations of work. Work is where things happen. That therefore leads me to social and political issues.
In 1999, your first film “Bye Bye Africa” dealt with the subject of African Cinema. What do you think of the state of present-day African Cinema?
I’ve filmed the state of cinemas in Chad and in Africa. Things have got worse, numerous countries no longer have any cinema theatres, with the exception of countries like South Africa, Mali or Burkina. The good news, however, is that after the selection of Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man) at Cannes and the Jury Prize, in January a cinema was re-opened in Chad and named “The Normandy”. It was renovated by the authorities who deemed it necessary to have a place to be able to watch the films. Renovation work is planned for other cinemas too. An audio-visual fee has also been voted in. This is a tax taken from the mobile telephone communication sector to help in the production of films. It’s good news. Therefore, the state of cinema has changed. We also have a film school which is due to open in 2013 in partnership with La Fémis Film School in Paris and other European film schools.

What inspired you to make films?
It was the inaugural image: the face of a beautiful Indian actress in a film, the title  of which, I don’t remember. It was my first time at the cinema. The cinema, which must have had about a thousand people in there, was very big and had an open ceiling. For a few seconds I thought the woman was smiling just at me. This smile, this happiness, touched me to such a degree that I started to make films. A while later, when I analysed my films, I realised that I had always reproduced a reverse shot, like the one I saw at the very beginning, with a character looking at the camera. The encounter with this beautiful, exotic woman lead me into the cinematic world!

Do you have any other sources of inspiration?

I am inspired by life! I read a lot of novels, I have senses which are open to everything around me. Phrases or encounters can open a new door for me. For example, one of my projects for next year came to me via a boy I met. I watched him put on a show, he was handicapped and he danced, he just came on the stage and when I saw him – I had a story and I didn’t know how to begin it  – he had inspired me.


Is it important for you to transmit a message through film?

Yes, the transmission of a message is the act of creation within oneself. To make a film is to transmit a message, emotions, life almost, I’d say. There is a type of eternity in this transmission. It’s an antidote to death. To transmit is to construct a memory which enables a continuity of things and keeps things alive. It is memory that enables us to tell a story. Therefore it is important that we consider this transmission like a wind, as Sotigui Kouyaté described it, a wind which blows open a door or lifts up a curtain, so that another wind can follow it… It’s the movement of life. To transmit your message, is to sign your name forever in eternity.

SATURDAY MAY  14th

Bollywood celebrates on the Croisette

 

 

 

 

Bollywood celebrates on the Croisette

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra © DR

Bollywood – The Greatest Love Story Ever Told has been produced especially for the Festival de Cannes. A member of last year’s Jury, the great Indian film-maker Shekhar Kapur spoke to Thierry Frémaux about his surprise at finding so few Bollywood movies at Cannes. He set to work right away to produce this documentary and just one year on, Bollywood is being screened Out of Competition.

“For decades now, audiences of all ages have been blown away by a passion called Bollywood!” That’s how Shekhar Kapur represents his project, an anthology of the most beautiful moments in Indian cinema. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising, The Two Escobars), the film retraces seventy years of Bollywood history, from its beginnings in black and white to the present day with movies in dazzling colour.

What is being celebrated at Cannes is a unique film industry with a style of its own. Known as massala, the Bollywood genre specialises in romantic tales told to music. The movies are a patchwork combining different themes – comedy, violence, love and drama come together in the same film – with a variety of dance styles, from traditional kathak to hip hop and disco. Over the last five years, under Western influence, Bollywood has lost some of its modesty. Only a few years ago, love scenes would have been unthinkable in massalas.

Bollywood has also inspired Western film-makers such as Danny Boyle. The British director called on Allah Rakha Rahman, a giant figure in Bollywood music, to compose part of the original soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire. The film’s final dance sequence, shot in Bombay station, ends with Jai-Ho (‘hope’ in Hindi.), which won the Oscar for the best original song in 2009.

SATURDAY MAY  14th

Emir Kusturica named Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur

Emir Kusturica © CR

Serbian film-maker Emir Kusturica was today invested with the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of the Légion d’honneur at the Café des Palmes.

In a speech given for the occasion, Frédéric Mitterrand, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, saluted the admirer of Federico Fellini, Luis Buñuel, Andreï Tarkovski, Milos Forman and Jean Renoir, and acknowledged his quest for a cinema that blends entertainment and philosophy. “The work of Emir Kusturica can be consumed without moderation. It crisscrosses, in an express train of course, the heart of a Europe marked by wounds, laughter and pride.”

Emir Kusturica is one of the rare directors to have received the Palme d’or twice, first in 1985 for When Father Was Away on Business and ten years later for Underground. Head of the Feature Film Jury at the 58th Festival, he is this year President of Un Certain Regard.

The director spoke in French to thank the Festival for being the only world class forum that allowed small countries to acquire international visibility, and for its defence of cultural diversity. He went on to stress the importance of the award of such an honour for a country like Serbia .

Peter Chan: 'This is the first time I conceived a film for its style'

Peter Chan © AFP

Chinese director Peter Chan has come to present his film Wu Xia, screened at midnight last night, with actors Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jimmy Wang Yu, Tang Wei, Wai Ying Hung and Li Xiaoran, and the producer Jojo Hui in attendance.

Peter Chan on the film:

“The Wu Xia is a Chinese martial arts film genre that we have known for a long time, for 30 or 40 years; I grew up with it and it is a genre that is constantly renewing itself. With this film, we wanted to keep this tradition going.”

“In this film, we wanted to show what the impact of a hit, or a sword could be on the body. This is the first time that I conceived a film for its style, rather than for its content. I had never done that before.”

Donnie Yen talks about the director and the actor Jimmy Wang Yu:

“I am a fan of Peter Chan and it was a privilege to work with him on set and to learn so much. It was also a pleasure to act with Jimmy. During the film shoot, he would tell me funny stories about his experiences filming in the ‘70s.”

Jimmy Wang Yu, with a bit of humour, about the film and his role:

Wu Xia is like a sports car, it’s a film that has a powerful engine with Peter Chan as the engineer. Me, I’m just a spare part, but a good one and I make sure that this car wins all the races in the world.”

Bonsai, from the Cinéfondation to Un Certain Regard

Cristìan Jiménez © DR

For his second feature film, Bonsai, Cristián Jiménez enjoyed more than 5 special months in Residence at the Cinéfondation in Paris where he was able to work on his script. Today he is presenting his film in Un Certain Regard.
In Residence at the Cinéfondation from the 1st March to the 15th July 2010, the Chilean director Cristián Jiménez was the only one of the intake to have already made a first film, Ilusiones Ópticas. Selected on the strength of his second feature film project, Bonsai, he was able to devote himself to the job of scriptwriting, adapting the novel of the same title by Alejandro Zambra. A story of love, books and plants, somewhere between fiction and memory…
Julio meets an old writer who is looking for an assistant to type his latest novel, but doesn’t get the job. Playing a trick on Blanca, his on-off mistress, he decides to write a manuscript which he tells her is the novelist’s own, drawing his inspiration from a passionate love affair he had with Emilia, eight years earlier.

“For me, one of the main challenges of the film was finding the right tone. The main story is potentially a drama, even a melodrama,” explains the director who chose to develop the two stories in parallel, non-chronologically. “Instead of the linear unfolding of events, I was interested in the contrast between two times, two towns, two distinct moments in the life of a person, two women, two energies, two distinct colours”. Cristián Jiménez admits on the subject of the novel: “I didn’t immediately see it as a film”. However, Bonsaï is today in Official Selection.

 

Johnny Depp 'Jack Sparrow is a weird combination of Keith Richard and Pepe le Pew'

Johnny Depp © AFP

The press conference for the film Pirates of Caribbean: on stranger tides was held today, in attendance of the director Rob Marshall, actresses Astrid Berges-Frisbey and Penelope Cruz, actors Sam Claflin, Johnny Depp, Ian Mc Shane and Geoffrey Rush and the producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

 

Johnny Deep, about his character Jack Sparrow :

“He is a weird combination of a 18th century rock n’roll star, who looks like Keith Richards, and Pepe le Pew, a very romantic skunk !”

“Qualities to make a good pirate are ignorance and persistence !”

About how he is helped by his family:

“They have seen more of my films than I do ! I often test my characters on my children. Sometimes they say “stop it” ! But I haven’t been fired yet.”

About his work with Penelope Cruz:

“The opportunity to work with Penelope is a gift. She’s an amazing person, a loyal friend and she is so talented.”

Penelope Cruz on her work on the film with Johnny Depp:

 “I feel very lucky to work and spend time with him. I’m a big fan ! His level of creativity is high, free and inspiring. And he is a unique human being.”

Ian Mc Shane about his character blackbeard:

“Blackbeared is iconic. It was nice to play an evil character. But we don’t call them evil characters, we call them complicated !”

 

About his previous films :

“There’s lots a my films that I don’t watch, and some of them that I can’t recall of. But that’s another story”.

From the LIP factor to Larzac: imagination (still) in power

Christian Rouaud © DR

Presented in Special Screenings, Christian Rouaud‘s documentary Tous au Larzac tells the story of the ten-year combat to save the Larzac plateau in southwestern France. Ten years of delights and disputes, of twists and turns and tears. With victory as the outcome.

One day in October 1971, the French Defence Ministry decided, without prior consultation, to expand the area of the Larzac military base from 7,500 acres to 35,000 acres. The reaction of the local community was immediate and radical: “If they want to take our land and our farms, it’ll be over our dead bodies, and we won’t be the only ones”. The local farmers were quickly joined by the clergy, Occitan independence groups and revolutionaries nostalgic for May 1968. The struggle would last ten years, until the French Presidential elections in May 1981. The high point was the great march that set out from Larzac on 8 November 1978, arriving on 2 December in Paris, where 80,000 people were waiting.

Despite the dramatic nature of the issues, documentary film-maker Christian Rouaud has managed to turn the conflict into a joyful and light-hearted movie. Primarily because the combat is often heart-warming in itself but also because the characters tell the story with a fair amount of truculence and humour. Among them is the then unknown, and younger, José Bové, whose concern at that time was not leadership, but more concrete, even physical action.

What fascinates Christian Rouaud, who in 2007 directed des Lip, l’imagination au pouvoir (LIP: the LIP Factor – Imagination in Power), is the way in which the Larzac protestors were able to stay united. The film-maker has a theory: debate, and the desire to find a solution that suited everybody, in the same way as in the LIP co-operatives. “Where can we find the time to debate ideas today?” asks Christian Rouaud, who would like to see this story inspire the world today. For him, the success of the French protest movements of the 1970s owed everything to “an incredible freedom of invention and a special tone of voice, a combination of pride, impertinence and unlimited imagination”.

Interview with Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas © AFP

The French director, Olivier Assayas, a Cannes regular, whose film Carlos was Out of Competition in 2010, is making the most of some respite before shooting his next film, After May, to sit on the feature film Jury of the 64th Festival presided by Robert de Niro. Interview.

This year you are on the Jury of the films In Competition presided by Robert de Niro, have you ever met him before? What does he evoke for you?
No, we never met before, but obviously he means a lot of things. Of course, I immediately think of all the films he made with Martin Scorsese, be it Raging Bull, Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy, which are all for me masterpieces and films which shaped me in the way I approach cinema.

What about the other jury members? What does this meeting of international cinema personalities mean to you?
There are several who I know and have great respect for. I was on a jury with Uma Thurman at Venice a few years ago and we got on very well. I’ve the greatest respect for the work of Mahamat Saleh Haroun and Johnnie To. Nansun Shi and I have known each other since I was writing about Asian cinema in the early 80’s, which doesn’t make you feel any younger! I’m also very friendly with Martina Gusman whose work I like, particularly in Pablo Trapero’s films.

You will be representing French taste in this Jury, how might that be different or complementary to the others?
I think that specifically when it comes to the French films, I’ll have to listen to what the international Jury members say. French films are immediately posited in pigeonholes, belonging to certain strata or clans within cinema… How we watch them lacks the same innocence or lack of judgementality as we might have with international films. That’s what I’d like to get away from, forget my knowledge of French cinema and manage to watch these films as if they were foreign, with the same lack of local culture.

You’ve presented many films in the Official Selection yourself, including 5 In Competition. What memories or anecdotes do you have? What does the Festival symbolise for you?
I’ve the impression of having seen Cannes every which way: as a film-mad teenager, short film maker, film critic, screenwriter, director… The fact that this time around I’m staying for the whole Festival and I’m going to be able to see all the films and like them, doesn’t remind me of the period when I used to come as a director, when you stay 3 days, doing a lot of official engagements and press, you can’t see anything and you go home extremely frustrated. This time, I’m seeing everything, a little bit like when I was a journalist, and, from this point of view, there’s something that reminds me of how it used to be.

And so how are you approaching this position of Jury membership?
By taste, I always prefer being judged to judging others. It’s simple, when you’re an artist, that’s really what it’s about. Basically, this Jury is very interesting and well balanced in a stimulating way, it’s not just a question of judgement but of discussion with people all of whom will have very well articulated views… There’s a real pleasure in this. I hope the best will come out on top.

Are you expecting anything from the films you’re going to see in advance?
To be surprised, of course, that’s all you can hope for!

What must a film be like to affect you? And how would you argue for it?
I have very eclectic tastes which aren’t necessarily aesthetic or moral about cinema. I can be equally enthused in different but comparable ways by the most personal type of film, or on the other hand, a complete genre film. We like films intuitively, you feel interest or other qualities. During a debate, in my opinion, it’s necessary to listen to what others might not have understood quite well enough and respond to that, pointing out the qualities which we ourselves have been receptive to.

We know your long-time attatchment to Asian cinema, is there another region of cinema which you are attracted to at the moment?
What has mainly emerged in the last few years is a Latin American cinema which used to be poorly represented in the international festivals. Now there’s a really fascinating Argentinian cinema and a Mexican cinema with a similar vitality to that of Asian cinema at the time it was making itself felt on the world stage. Today Asian cinema is recognised, mapped out, it’s no longer a terra incognita to be explored for the first time, so its films have full rights on the contemporary cinema circuit.

What do you take your inspiration from at the moment?
The world, experience, life, art, whether that be cinema, literature… What’s more, the world is changing in extremely surprising ways today, so it’s something that already nourishes the imagination.

What are the latest films that have made an impression on you and why?
I want to say Road to Nowhere by Monte Hellman and Essential Killing by Jerzy Skolimovski… Two very major filmmakers who, late on, who have made great modern films that are ambitious and bold… It’s stimulating.

What are you going to do after the Festival?
At the end of June I start shooting my next film: After May.

 

Bollywood celebrates on the Croisette

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra © DR

Bollywood – The Greatest Love Story Ever Told has been produced especially for the Festival de Cannes. A member of last year’s Jury, the great Indian film-maker Shekhar Kapur spoke to Thierry Frémaux about his surprise at finding so few Bollywood movies at Cannes. He set to work right away to produce this documentary and just one year on, Bollywood is being screened Out of Competition.

“For decades now, audiences of all ages have been blown away by a passion called Bollywood!” That’s how Shekhar Kapur represents his project, an anthology of the most beautiful moments in Indian cinema. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising, The Two Escobars), the film retraces seventy years of Bollywood history, from its beginnings in black and white to the present day with movies in dazzling colour.

What is being celebrated at Cannes is a unique film industry with a style of its own. Known as massala, the Bollywood genre specialises in romantic tales told to music. The movies are a patchwork combining different themes – comedy, violence, love and drama come together in the same film – with a variety of dance styles, from traditional kathak to hip hop and disco. Over the last five years, under Western influence, Bollywood has lost some of its modesty. Only a few years ago, love scenes would have been unthinkable in massalas.

Bollywood has also inspired Western film-makers such as Danny Boyle. The British director called on Allah Rakha Rahman, a giant figure in Bollywood music, to compose part of the original soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire. The film’s final dance sequence, shot in Bombay station, ends with Jai-Ho (‘hope’ in Hindi.), which won the Oscar for the best original song in 2009.

FRIDAY MAY 13th

Nanni Moretti at the Pope’s bedside

 

 

 

 

Nanni Moretti at the Pope's bedside

Nanni Moretti © CR

Winner of the Palme d’or in 2001 for The Son’s Room, the Italian film-maker is presenting his eleventh feature film and his sixth in Competition at Cannes. Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), his portrait of a Pope who feels unable to take up his role, has divided Catholic opinion.

 After the Left, the cinema, the education system and Silvio Berlusconi, Nanni Moretti turns his ironic gaze on the Church. In The Mass is Ended (1985), he had already sniped at religion in his portrayal of a young priest whose help is rejected by the people. In We have a Pope, the action takes at the headquarters of the Roman Church, at the Vatican, as the conclave meets to elect a new Pope. Panic ensues when the elected cardinal (Michel Piccoli), terrified by the function he is called to fulfil, refuses to present himself to the crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square. 

Nanni Moretti has found the ideal context in which to balance personal and political questions, the essence of his cinema since I Am Self-sufficient in 1976. As is often the case with Moretti, tragedy is mixed in with the comedy. Tragedy at the Vatican, where the conclave of cardinals attempts to deal with the crisis. Comedy in the streets of Rome into which the Pope escapes.

It would be a mistake to believe that Nanni Moretti, who plays the therapist sent by the religious authorities to help the Pope assume his functions, has abandoned his autobiographical streak by setting his film in the Vatican. “There is something of me in both the character of the psychotherapist and in Melville’s (the Pope’s) feelings of discomfort and inadequacy“, stresses the director, who has already played a therapist once before in The Son’s Room.

On general release in Italy since 15 April, We Have a Pope is enjoying enormous success, stirring debate even within the Catholic Church. Although Vatican expert Salvatore Izzo has published an appeal to boycott the film in Avvenire (the journal of Italian bishops), the Jesuite review Civilità Cattolica and Radio Vatican have both defended the film’s respectful, humanist approach.

 

 

 

Nanni Moretti : 'I am sorry that I don't believe in God.'

Nanni Moretti © CR

Italian director Nanni Moretti and his actor Michel Piccoli, who plays a terror-struck Pope in We have a Pope, this morning answered questions from journalists. Selected highlights.

Nanni Moretti, explaining that at no point did the Vatican try to intervene in the making of the film:

“I made a film with my own actors based on my own screenplay. There was neither obstruction nor support from the Vatican. Besides we only partially tried to recreate the décor of the Vatican, looking rather for something more understated.”

Michel Piccoli recalls the days leading up to when he was finally given the leading role:

“When I was asked to play the Pope in a film by Nanni Moretti, I said yes at once. However, he didn’t say ‘yes’ as quickly as me! We did a few auditions and a few days later he told me ‘It’s you.’ To be honest, I could have ended my career with a Nanni Moretti film.”

Nanni Moretti responds to critics who have focused on the lack of religious faith in his film:

“When people say there is no religious faith in ‘We Have a Pope‘ I agree with them! I’m sorry that I don’t believe in God. But nothing in my way of treating the subject suggests a desire to attack those who are strong believers. I wanted to show the Vatican as I see it and not to make a film denouncing the place. I had no wish to be conditioned by current events.”

Nanni Moretti, on the Vatican’s influence in Italian politics:

“The various hierarchies of the Vatican have always interfered in Italian politics, but it seems that in more recent years, the political parties themselves have been much more sensitive to the Vatican’s positions.”

 

POLISS – by MAIWENN

 

 

 

Maïwenn: 'Childhood, fatherhood and motherhood are the common threads that run through my films'

Maïwenn © AFP

The team from Polisse (Poliss), in Competition, turned out in force for the press conference. Maïwenn was joined by her producer, Alain Attal, and by eleven of the film’s actors: Emmanuelle Bercot (who was also co-scriptwriter), Karine Viard, Joeystarr, Marina Foïs, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Karole Rocher, Frédéric Pierrot, Arnaud Henriet, Naidra Ayadi, Jérémie Elkaim, and Sandrine Kiberlain. 

Inspiration for the film and Maïwenn’s research in the Child Protection Unit

Maïwenn: “It’s the passion of police officers and the weapons they make to protect themselves against human depravity that made me want to make this film. I am fascinated by anything to do with children. Childhood, fatherhood and motherhood are the common threads that run through my films.” 

Maïwenn: “During my research period, I witnessed a paedophile being brought to face a 16 year old teenage girl who he had abused ten years previously. The girl told the whole story and the accused confessed that what she said was true, word for word. And that day I saw something incredible. Her whole body was trandsformed: her body, her hair, her skin.”

On children

Maïwenn: “During filming, I promised the Social Services that I would only include material that had been written and approved by the Social Services, and I respected that. Scenes involving children were carefully considered and supervised (by a psychologist and an inspector from Social Services).”

On the character played by Maïwenn
Maïwenn: “I wanted a character who was close to my role as director. But in the end, the very introverted character I played lacked the energy you need to direct a film. It was a casting mistake (laughs).”

Actors’ impressions of the police
Jérémie Elkaïm: “The time we spent with former Child Protection Officers really changed how I see the world. It makes you realise that stuff could be going on in any house. I saw everything through the prism of rape and paedophilia.”

On improvising
Maïwenn: “I am obsessed by the truth. If actors keep to the script and it sounds true, I leave it. If it feels like they are just waiting their turn and they aren’t listening to each other, I ask them to improvise, or I whisper something in one of their ears to throw the other off.”

Maïwenn’s method as seen by the actors
Sandrine Kiberlain: “In other films, there’s a whole ceremony, a way of doing things: you practice the scene a bit, then its lights, camera, action. With Maïwenn, there’s none of that normal division between acting and rehearsing. You don’t know when it’s going to start or when it will stop. To begin with, I was thinking, ‘What is this all about’, but after a while I found it helpful.”
Marina Foïs: “She isn’t interested in what we know. It’s a chance for us as actors to do something different.”
 

How Emmanuelle Bercot has influenced Maïwenn and vice versa
Maïwenn: “I love her cinema, her very structured way of thinking. Also, she went to FEMIS film school, whereas I left school when I was 13. She has helped me a lot with her discipline and organisation. Now I can’t imagine working without her.”
Emmanuelle Bercot: “She brings her incredible freedom and complete lack of convention. She is about constant movement. Everything can always change. And when she has an idea, she acts on it straight away. It’s very refreshing.”

POLISS – COMPETITION

 

 

 

Maïwenn infiltrates the police

Maïwenn © AFP

Maïwenn has had quite a run. At the age of 35, the French actress and director has been selected In Competition in Cannes, with her third feature film, Polisse (Poliss). A very realistic film about the daily life of police officers in the Brigade for the Protection of Minors.

Polisse. It is “police” written by someone who does not know how to spell. A child, for example. Polisse was filmed at the Brigade for the Protection des Minors (BPM). With a camera on her shoulder, Maïwenn films the detention of pedophiles, the questioning of abusive parents, the statements of children who are victims, but also the relationships between the police officers. 
As in her two previous films, Maïwenn interprets what she observes, from behind the lens. In Pardonnez-moi (Forgive Me), she filmed a personal journal and in Le Bal des actrices (All About Actresses), she created a documentary about actresses. In Polisse, she plays a photographer who has been hired by the Ministry of the Interior to cover the BPM on film. One of the police officers (Joeystarr) falls in love with her. Before she knew that she would make a film about the BPM, Maïwenn wanted Joeystarr to play the lead role and that it would be a love story about two people from very different backgrounds. “I wrote this film for him. He was my motivation and my muse,” says Maïwenn.
 
Documentary, fiction and autobiography are always intimately blended in Maïwenn’s work. In Polisse, however, she crosses over from her own world (her family, the world of film) to explore a social reality that has profoundly moved her. In search of the truth above all, she immersed herself over several months in the BPM. As a result, every story told in the film was inspired by true situations that she witnessed, or that the police told her about. The actors also took training with former police officers from the BPM to become very familiar with the job, and also to create the atmosphere in the Brigade of being part of a group, almost a family.

 

THURSDAY MAY 12th

We Need to Talk about Kevin

Lynne Ramsay confronts the ravages of teenage angst

Lynne Ramsay © CR

The only British director in Competition, Lynne Ramsay has adapted a book by US novelist Lionel Shriver centred on the torments of adolescence. With We Need to Talk about Kevin, the film-maker plunges back into a subject that she has already dealt with in her movies.

Childhood disillusionment and its consequences on adolescence are themes for cinematic reflection that are dear to Lynne Ramsay’s heart. Her short films Small Deaths (1996) and Gasman (1998), both of which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes, did not just reveal the Scottish film-maker’s talent to the eyes of the Seventh Art. These first movies also bespoke her deep interest in these issues, which have continued to mark her films.
 

This tendency was confirmed especially in 1999 with The Ratcatcher, her first feature film. The film, selected for Un Certain Regard, related the difficult existence of a teenager cut off from the family environment by a burdensome secret.
With We Need to Talk about Kevin, the British film-maker pursues her aim of decoding the desperation of youth though, this time, from the other side of the mirror. Here she focuses on parental guilt, a sentiment that confronts Eva (Tilda Swinton) when her son Kevin (Ezra Miller), aged 16, kills seven people at his school. She attempts to explain his act by remembering significant moments of their life together.

Adapted from a novel by the American writer Lionel Shriver, the movie echoes the Columbine tragedy, made into a film by Gus Van Sant in 2003 (Elephant, Palme d’or). Note also the participation of Jonny Greenwood, one of the guitarists in the English group Radiohead, who produced the music for the film.

Lynne Ramsay: 'Kevin's violence can be compared to the violence of the world'

Lynne Ramsay © B.Pavan

Scottish director Lynne Ramsay and the cast of her movie We Need To Talk About Kevin, selected in Competition, spoke to the press this Thursday morning. Highlights.
Lynne Ramsay discussed the genesis of her film:
 “I normally get quite engrossed when I embark on making a film, but to deal with a story of this kind, I thought I should take take time to let the project mature. I always imagine my films in very visual manner, in my head. It was a real challenge for me because it was the first time that I had decided on this kind of structure.”
Tilda Swinton talked about the solitude of her character Eva::
“For a mother,the feeling of loneliness is sometimes very real. Being a mother can be very violent, very bloody. The idea of giving birth to a human being who incarnates that same violence is terrifying. This film is a voyage where we study the emotions of a mother and the breakdown of family relationships.”

 
Ezra Miller spoke about the personality of Kevin:

“I’m 18 years old and I fear I might be linked to Kevin in some way. The idea horrifies me. I think evil lives in each of us. And I delved deep inside myself to find that evil, to play Kevin.”
John C. Reilly talked about Franklin, Kevin’s father in the film:
“Kevin manipulates his father and takes advantage of his dad’s unconditional love for him to combat his mother. Franklin feels the scorn of his son, but like any father, his love comes out on top. He tries to do his best to make sure that everything goes smoothly in the family.”.
Lynne Ramsay on the movie’s violence:
“I didn’t want to show the massacre, not only because I didn’t want to film something so terribly violent, but also to preserve the point of view of the mother, who was only able to imagine the scene. As for the violence in Kevin, it can be compared to the violence in the world”.

 

'Restless', a tale of young love

Gus Van Sant © CR

Gus Van Sant opens Un Certain Regard with a movie dedicated to youth and love. Restless is the fifth feature film by the US film-maker to appear in the Official Selection. His movie Elephant won the Palme d’or in 2003.

His new film relates a tale of young love that is graceful and tragic.  But, unlike Elephant or Paranoid Park, the drama here contains a spark of happiness. Enoch and Annabel each have to face up to dealing with a personal ordeal. Enoch has just lost his parents in a car accident; Annabel is suffering from terminal cancer. But the forcefulness of their encounter, their complicity and the love that unites them enable them to transform their anger and fear and face their destiny with humour and radiance. The two heroes are played by Henry Hopper, the son of Dennis Hopper, in his very first movie role, and Mia Wasikowska, Tim Burton’s marvellous Alice.
Initially written for the theatre, Restless was taken up by the actress Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Manderlay). She convinced the play’s author Jason Lew, a friend from her university days, to adapt the play for the cinema. Thrilled with the resulting screenplay, she decided to produce the movie in association with her father Ron Howard. They quickly decided that Gus Van Sant should be the director, on account of his sensitivity, his sense of poetry and his taste for passionate, original characters.
Since his first film in 1985, Gus Van Sant has alternated between formal, characteristic movies based on his own screenplays (My Own Private Idaho, Elephant, Paranoid Park) and more classically constructed movies written by others (Good Will Hunting, Harvey Milk). In Restless, he pursues this second vein, while nonetheless continuing to explore his preferred themes.

Mia Wasikowska & Henry Hopper
Courtesy of Sony Pictures
 
Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard, opening night

Opens:

Sept. 16 (Sony Pictures Classics)

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Screenwriter:

Jason Lew

Cast:

Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase, Schuyler Fisk

 

“Seen any good funerals lately?” asks one funeral junky to another in Restless, a terminally cloying and mushy-headed romance between a cancer-stricken young woman and an orphaned teenager whose closest confidant is the ghost of a kamikazi pilot. The most banal and indulgent of Gus Van Sant’s periodic studies of troubled kids, this agonizingly treacly tale comes off like an indie version of Love Story except with worse music. Gullible teen girls represent the target audience for this Sony Pictures Classics release, as most people of voting age will blanch at such a cutesy depiction of adolescent angst.

Both dressed in fashionably funky style, Enoch (Henry Hopper) and Annabel (Mia Wasikowska) meet at a funeral and bond over their mutual morbid obsession, which they have for opposite reasons: Enoch lost his mother and father in an automobile accident that, he claims, left him dead for three minutes before he bounced back, while Annabel has brain cancer, which will take her within a few months.

Fascinated by animals and the natural order of things, Annabel idolizes Charles Darwin and puts on a madly positive, enthusiastic front, knowing she needs to experience whatever she can of life in a very short time. She can therefore be excused for being a bit pushy with Enoch, who has basically shut down after his parents died and is difficult to bring out of his shell.

Enoch seems content, in fact, to converse mostly with his buddy Hiroshi (Ryo Kase), a ghost who dresses in the uniform of Japanese World War II suicide pilots and also discusses the details of the seppuku ritual with the death-obsessed young American.

Still, the flesh-and-blood Annabel finally manages to exert a greater influence on Enoch when, after a date at the morgue and being chased by cretins on Halloween, they evolve from confidants to lovers in a mild encounter that possesses a surprisingly weak charge. 

Van Sant can be good at creating private worlds inhabited by sensitive and/or disturbed characters, but here the individuals are simply not very interesting. The project started as a group of short plays and vignettes by NYU student Jason Lew, a fellow classmate of co-producer Bryce Dallas Howard who subsequently worked them into a play and, ultimately, a script. It still feels sketchy, however, neither deeply developed nor very nuanced.

With her Mia Farrow haircut and winsome air, Wasikowska is a welcome presence as always, but one wishes she had more levels to play than brave and resolutely upbeat. In his film debut, Hopper, son of Dennis Hopper, is tousel-haired and cute but struggles to bring dimension and nuance to Enoch’s balkiness.

Shot by Harris Savides in the Portland, Ore., area, Restless has a rather washed-out look, especially in the darker interiors. Danny Elfman’s score is uncharacteristically sappy, emphasizing all that’s most annoying in the material.
 
Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard, opening night
Opens: September 16 (Sony Pictures Classics)
Production: Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer Prods.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Screenwriter: Jason Lew
Cast: Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase, Schuyler Fisk, Jane Adams, Chin Han, Lusia Strus
Producers: Brian Grazer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard
Executive producers: Eric Black, David Allen Cress, Frank Mancuso Jr.
Director of photography: Harris Savides
Production designer: Anne Ross
Costume designer: Danny Glicker
Editor: Elliot Graham
Music: Danny Elfman
91 minutes

 

 

 

'' Sleeping Beauty '', a writer behind the camera

/Julia Leigh © AFP

Julia Leigh is taking part in the Festival de Cannes with Sleeping Beauty, her first film, in Competition and in the running for the Caméra d’Or. A feature film for which the Australian director, author of two novels, has also written the script.
With degrees both in literature and in law, Julia Leigh very soon swayed toward literature. Her first novel, published in 1999, The Hunter, won numerous prizes and was adapted to film by Daniel Nettheim. Her second book, Disquiet, which also attracted considerable attention, came out in 2008, the year the writer wrote the script for Sleeping Beauty.
She wrote the first draft in only ten days. It is the story of a student who needed money, and who became involved in a strange network of sleeping beauties. She falls asleep. She wakes up. And it is as if nothing had happened, she has no recollection of what men do to her at night. It is a tale with multiple literary allusions. “I knew the fairy tale. I knew that King Solomon had young virgins brought to him from all over his realm to sleep alongside him.” The director had also read the short stories by Yasunari Kawabata and Gabriel Garcia Marquez that evoked the same theme. “The film is a response to all these things.”

But for Julia Leigh, the task of writing did not end with the script. “To explain how I saw it, I wrote a long note of my intentions in which I stated precisely everything that would appear on the screen, scene by scene.” A working method that seems logical for the Australian director, who adds, “In a sense, my literary world is my cinematographic world. It is one and the same thing.”

 

” Trabalhar Cansa ” (” Hard Labour ”), the fruit of a long collaboration

 

 
'' Trabalhar Cansa '' ('' Hard Labour ''), the fruit of a long collaboration

Picture of the film Trabalhar Cansa

Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra are presenting their first feature film, Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labour), in Un Certain Regard and they are in the running for the Caméra d’Or. The two Brazilian filmmakers have worked together continuously for a decade and they have developed a common style.
“Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labour) is the fruit of a decade of collaboration,” the two filmmakers confide. In fact, Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, who will present their first feature film in Un Certain Regard, have known each other since their first year in film school at the University of Sao Paulo. Since then, they have created a series of collaborative works, from their first trial videos to their first feature film. Trabalhar Cansa tells the story of how Helena’s dream of opening a small grocery shop came true. This proved to be a difficult project because her husband lost his job at the same time, products went missing from the shop and a strange smell pervaded the premises, while a spot on the wall kept growing larger. A heavy feeling weighed down on everyone who came into the shop.
The story bears the mark of something unwholesome, rooted in daily life and the domestic world of the characters. “We wanted to explore the way that the family is affected when the roles are reversed in a way that upsets people’s habits.” From the very start of their collaboration, the two filmmakers have enjoyed creating a dialogue with the horror film and fantasy genre. “We are looking for the relationship between the subject and his or her own morbid aspects, instead of just applying simple clichés of the horror film to our work.”


 

MAY 11th – WEDNESDAY –

news

ACTORS IN CANNES AT THE OPENING OF THE FESTIVAL 

 

 

 

 

IN ATTENDANCE AT CANNES

Jude Law – © SvD Cinema Redux

The actors expected to be in attendance in Cannes today are: Helena ALBERGARIA, Yvan ATTAL, Irene AZUELA, Antonio BANDERAS, Claude BAZ. MOUSSAWBAA, Berenice BEJO, Rachel BLAKE, Elodie BOUCHEZ, Adrien BRODY, Emily BROWNING, Claudia CARDINALE, Han  CHIN, Kerry CONDON, Michael CONNORS, Ines DE LA FRESSANGE, Michel DELPECH, Catherine  DENEUVE, Marat DESCARTES, Faye DUNAWAY, Kirsten DUNST, Christopher EDWARDS, Yilmaz ERDOGAN, Charlotte GAINSBOURG, Gael GARCIA BERNAL, Louis GARREL, Julie GAYET, Vahina GIOCANTE, Melanie GRIFFITH, Layla HAKIM, Salma HAYEK, Noe HERNANDEZ, Dustin HOFFMAN, Henry HOPPER, Angelina JOLIE, Sandrine KIBERLAIN, Diane KRUGER, Mélanie LAURENT, Xiaoran LI, Gong LI, Heinz LIEVEN, Vincent LINDON, Yvonne MAALOUF, Chiara MASTROIANNI, Rachel MCADAMS, Ezra MILLER, Aimee MULLINS, Ahmet MÜMTAZTAYLAN, Sami NACERI, Gilda NOMACCE, Antoinette NOUFAILY, Michel PICCOLI, Brad PITT, Adèle POLZL HAENEL, Aishwarya RAI, John C.REILLY, Ludivine SAGNIER, Riccardo SCAMARCIO, Léa SEYDOUX, Michael SHEEN, Stephanie SIGMAN, Tilda SWINTON, Christopher THOMPSON, Mia WASIKOWSKA, Lambert WILSON, Owen WILSON, José YENKUE, Elsa ZYLBERSTEIN

Trip to the Moon
 

French duo Air provides soundtrack for revamped 1902 space fantasy.

Before CGI and 3D, there was French film pioneer Georges Melies, the forerunner of modern-day movie magic. His newly restored 1902 short A Trip to the Moon will precede Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris to open up this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

A must for any film student or special effects lover, the 14-minute space fantasy was adapted by Melies from the work of Jules Verne, and shot in a studio he built in the Paris suburb of Montreuil. Filled with dazzling set pieces and uncanny visual trickery, the most iconic being an image of a rocket ship poking into the moon’s eye, the movie went on to achieve instant success both in France and the U.S.

The massive restoration, budgeted at E400,000 and jointly financed by Serge Bromberg’s Lobster Films (Henri-George Clouzot’s Inferno), the Groupama Gan Foundation and the Technicolor Foundation, began in 1993 when a rare, hand-tinted print was uncovered in Barcelona. In 1999, Lobster began digitizing the footage frame by frame, and over ten years and 13,000 frames later, the film can now be seen in a full-blown color version for the first time since its debut more than a century ago.

Although silent film purists may gasp at the restorers’ choice to add a catchy soundtrack by French electro duo Air (Lost in Translation), Moon should continue its voyage after Cannes to play plenty of fests and film museums before it lands on DVD.    

 

OPENING FILM of CANNES 2011 – AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

 
An American in Paris

Woody Allen © SvD Cinema Redux
 

Venue:

Cannes Film Festival (Opening night, Out of Competition)

Opens:

May 20 (Sony Pictures Classics)

Cast:

Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen

Director-screenwriter:

Woody Allen

THE CANNES’ 64th International Filmfestival is being kicked off by Woody Allen’s opening film, Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy with a finely honed narrative. After shooting movies in various European cities (London, Barcelona), Woody Allen focuses his camera on Paris to follow the nocturnal wanderings of Gil, played by Owen Wilson.

Woody Allen during the photo call May 11th just before 13h - Serge van Duijnhoven Cinema Redux

Long attached to the universe and characters of New York City (Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters etc.), Woody Allen has recently launched a second phase of his career in Europe, on the tracks of his cinema references (with Bergman at the head of the list). The movies he is making now have a different feel from his New York style. His favourite subjects however remain the same: couples, their disillusions and their complications, the family and the fear of the passing of time.

In Midnight in Paris, a couple comes to stay in the French capital for professional reasons. They discover that, despite their fantasies, Parisian life is not really right for them. Gil starts to look at night for what he can’t find during the day. During his nightly perambulations he comes across a cast of characters as disparate as they are impressive: Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni and Gad Elmaleh.

Adrian Brody, magnificently performing as the ghost of Salvador Dali in Allen's movie

Considered as the most European of US film-makers, Woody Allen once again shows us the multiple connections that exist between different countries and between life and art, allowing us to inaugurate the 64th Festival de Cannes in the most beautiful way possible.

Trailer of the movie Midnight in Paris:

http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en/mediaPlayer/11018.html

 

Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson

Woody Allen came to present his feature film Midnight in Paris, which will open the Festival, with actors Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, actresses Léa Seydoux, Rachel McAdams, and producer Jaume Roures

Woody Allen on Owen Wilson

 “Owen is the complete opposite of me, which is a huge help.  I am an Eureopean-looking East Coast intellectual. He is a West Coast blond, and a beach lover…”

Rachel Wilson and her character

 “Woody told me ‘You won’t be playing an object of desire. I hope it’s ok with you.’, and I was really excited about that. (…) Then Owen told me ‘You’re so much funnier when you’re mean’.”

About director of photography Darius Khondji

“I had noticed his work in Stealing beauty directed by Bertolucci, I was really impressed. I wanted to make Paris look beautiful.”

Woody Allen and his references

“When I was a young man, my friends and I were really influenced by European (Swedish and Italian) filmmakers, but also by French directors such as  Godard, Truffaut, Resnais, and René Clair.”

Woody Allen and the script

“The characters of Picasso, Hemingway and Dali were easy to portray. I didn’t try to make them meaningful and deep, just amusing.”

Woody’s in good form and Paris looks glorious in this droll time-traveling fantasy.

Literary giants of the 1920s and Owen Wilson interact in Woody Allen’s love letter to the City of Light.

As beguiling as a stroll around Paris on a warm spring evening — something that Owen Wilson’s character here becomes very fond of himself — Midnight in Paris represents Woody Allen’s companion piece to his The Purple Rose of Cairo, a fanciful time machine that allows him to indulge playfully in the artistic Paris of his, and many other people’s, dreams.  A sure-fire source of gentle amusement to Allen’s core audience but unlikely to connect with those with no knowledge of or feel for the Paris of the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Picasso, this love letter to the City of Light looks to do better-than-average business for the writer-director in the U.S. upon its May 20 release, and expectations in certain foreign territories could be even higher.

As has happened before when Allen has filmed in photogenic foreign locales — London in Match Point, Barcelona in Vicki Cristina Barcelona — the director seems stimulated by discovering the possibilities of a new environment. In fact, Allen has worked in Paris before, as a writer and actor in What’s New Pussycat? 46 years ago and in one section of Everyone Says I Love You, but this is the first time he’s given the city the royal treatment.

Granted, it’s mostly a touristic view of the city, as witness the voluptuously photographed opening montage of famous sites, but that’s entirely acceptable given that the leading characters are well-off Americans on vacation. Playing Allen’s alter ego this time around is Owen Wilson as Gil, a highly successful hack Hollywood screenwriter still young enough to feel pangs over not having seriously tested himself as a novelist.

That things may not be entirely right between Gil and his pushy fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) becomes clear early on, as the couple tours around with Inez’s friends Carol (Nina Arianda) and Paul (Michael Sheen), the latter an insufferable expert on all things cultural (that Inez’s parents are right-wingers also allows Allen to sneak in some Tea Party jokes).  “Nostalgia is denial,” Paul intones to Gil, who is keen to break off on his own to indulge his own reveries of the literary Paris that fuels his creative imagination.

Lo and behold, that night, while wandering through a quiet part of the city, Gil is invited into an elegant old car carrying some inebriated revelers. Arriving at an even more elegant party, Gil shortly finds that he’s in the company of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and that it’s Cole Porter playing the piano. Later, they end up at a bar with Ernest Hemingway, who promises to show Gil’s unfinished novel to Gertrude Stein.

And so begins a flight of fancy that allows Gil to circulate with, and receive a measure of approval from, his lifelong literary heroes, not to mention such other giants as Dali (a vastly amusing Adrien Brody), Picasso, Man Ray, T.S. Eliot and Luis Bunuel, to whom the young American gives the premise of The Exterminating Angel. If not more important, he also meets the beauteous Adriana (Marion Cotillard), the former lover of Braque and Modigliani who’s now involved with Picasso, will shortly go off with Hemingway but is also curiously receptive to Gil, who seems somehow different than everyone else.

After trying but failing to bring the balky Inez along through the midnight portal along with him, Gil keeps returning to the 1920s night after night, getting pertinent advice from Stein about his novel and becoming seriously distracted by Adriana, who herself would prefer to have lived during La Belle Epoque. Although it’s all done glibly in traditional Allen one-liner style, the format nonetheless allows the writer, who has never been shy about honoring his idols in his work, to reflect on the way people have always idealized earlier periods and cultural moments, as if they were automatically superior to whatever exists at the time.  “Surely you don’t think the ‘20s is a Golden Age?” Adriana asks a bewildered Gil, who has always been so certain of it. “It’s the present. It’s dull,” she insists.

For anyone whose historical and cultural fantasies run anywhere near those that Allen toys with here, Midnight in Paris will be a pretty constant delight. As Allen surrogates go, Wilson is a pretty good one, being so different from the author physically and vocally that there’s little possibility of the annoying traces of imitation that have sometimes afflicted other actors in such roles. Cotillard is the perfect object of Gil’s romantic and creative dreams; Kathy Bates, speaking English, French and Spanish, makes Stein into a wonderfully appealing straight-shooter, Sheen has fun with his fatuous walking encyclopedia role and McAdams is a bundle of argumentative energy in a role one is meant to find a bit off-putting. French first lady Carla Bruni is perfectly acceptable in her three scenes as a tour guide at the Rodin Museum, while Corey Stoll very nicely pulls off the trick of both sending up Hemingway’s manly pretentions and honestly conveying his core artistic values.

Darius Khondji’s cinematography evokes to the hilt the gorgeously inviting Paris of so many people’s imaginations (while conveniently ignoring the rest), and the film has the concision and snappy pace of Allen’s best work.
 
Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Opening night, Out of Competition)
Opens: May 20 (Sony Pictures Classics)
Production: Mediapro, Versatil Cinema, Gravier Prods., Pontchartrain Prods.)
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Nina Arianda, Kurt Fuller, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Lea Seydoux, Corey Stoll
Director-screenwriter: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Jaume Roures
Executive producers: Javier Mendez
Director of photography: Darius Khondji
Production designer: Anne Seibel
Costume designer: Sonia Grande
Editor: Alisa Lepselter
Rated PG-13, 94 minutes

 

 

The coming together of the jury for main competition movies of the 64th edition of the Festival de Cannes , was quite a bummer. With jury-president Robert deNiro looking as blase and uninterested as he possibly could. Even the question if he in fact did fuck the wife of one of the journalists in the room, could not in any way stirr him up or provoke a sharpedged answer or reaction of any kind. Whereas Tim Burton inspired the goal of the Jury of last year as to valuate those films “that would knock on the doors of our dreams and windows of our imagination”, Mister de Niro merely stated that he willfully left the definition of his task to the direction of the Cannes Festival. Leaning back lazily, with lushy eyelads, looking like a coldblooded fish behind the glass of his aquarium, he told the gathered journalists that he was mainly keen “on happily floating my way through it all… Actually I don’t know what I’m looking for. It’s not every day you get to see 20 films in such a short space of time. It’s a bit like being on holiday.”

Luckily, director Olivier Asseyas rushed to the aid of blush de Niro, by stating that it was not up to the jury but to the movies presented in the competition, to set or even reset the standards. For: “all good movies, happen to set their own standards…”

Mahmet Saleh Haroun from Chad was the one exception who stood out, stating that the jury was not beforehand looknig for any political message in the films selected for the main competition. But that for anybody who belongs to the religion of film, the main temple of the Sublime Illusion called Film is still and definitely right here in Cannes…

Robert De Niro : 'I can't wait to see the films'

Robert De Niro © AFP

Robert de Niro and his jury answer questions from journalists at this afternoon’s Feature Film Jury Press Conference.

Robert De Niro: “I don’t know what I’m looking for. It’s not every day you get to see 20 films in such a short space of time. It’s a bit like being on holiday.”

Uma Thurman: “I’ve come looking for inspiration, to understand why we’ve devoted our lives to cinema.”

Martina Gusman: “It’s a unique experience to be surrounded by such talented people. I’m totally fired up. It’s like a dream.”

Olivier Assayas: “You have to take the strongest and most stimulating films and find some common ground. You can’t satisfy everyone, but like any Jury, we’re going to try to be as fair and generous as possible.”

Mahamat Saleh Haroun: “My film’s appearance at Cannes and the prize it won revolutionised Chadian cinema. There were no cinemas left, and then one reopened the following January. There is a film school project planned for 2013, and a broadcasting licence fee has been created to finance films. The country’s authorities have realised that it’s important to be where it’s at.”

Linn Ullmann: “In Norway, everyone goes skiing with their parents… except for our family. But I saw two films a day every summer, and at the start of each film my father (Ingmar Bergman – Ed) said to me “there’s your training, right there”

On the absence of Chinese films from the Official Selection:
Johnnie To: “They’re making a lot of films in China, too many perhaps…”

Nansun Shi: “There are ups and downs. That doesn’t mean there’s not quality cinema. It’s about the calendar too. Chinese cinema is well represented at many festivals.”

 

HONORARY PALME 2011 FOR BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI

Honorary Palme 2011 for director Bernardo Bertolucci

This is a novelty for the Festival de Cannes: from 2011, the organizers will award an annual Honorary Palme d’or, which will be presented during the Opening Ceremony.

This recognition is attributed to an important filmmaker, whose work is authoritative but never got a Palme d’or. In the recent past, Woody Allen, in 2002, or Clint Eastwood in 2009, were awarded this distinction by President Gilles Jacob, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Festival de Cannes. Now, the act becomes tradition and will be annual, taking place at the opening of the event.

In 2011, the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci will receive this honour.

The filmmaker (poet Attilio Bertolucci’s son) has marked Italian cinema with intimate masterpieces as well as monumental frescoes: from Prima della Revoluzione (1964) to Novecento (1976), from The Conformist (1970) to The Last Emperor (1987), his political and social involvement, driven by a profound lyricism and an elegant and accurate direction, gives his films a unique place in the history of world cinema.

“The quality of his work, which appears today in all its uniqueness and the extent of this work we perceive every day more vividly, the strength of his commitment to cinema and the ties that bind him to Cannes, make Bernaldo Bertollucci the first legitimate recipient.” say President Gilles Jacob and Thierry Frémaux General Delegate.

The Honorary Palme will be attributed to him Wednesday, May 11, at the Opening Ceremony of the 64th edition of the Festival, in the presence of the Jury chaired by Robert De Niro, who was one of the actors in Novecento (1900).

Opening Ceremony of the 64th Festival de Cannes

Robert de Niro © AFP

Declaro il Festivale di Cannes aperto. I declare the Festival de Cannes open.” This year, the Festival de Cannes was opened by Bernardo Bertolucci. The Italian Director was awarded an honorary Palme d’or d’honneur by Gilles Jacob, in the presence of the Jury and the Mistress of Ceremonies, Mélanie Laurent.


“I stand before you tonight, and seen from here, the cinema is a magical thing.”. With these words Mélanie Laurent welcomes the Jury presided by Robert de Niro onto the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière. At his side, actresses  Uma Thurman and Martina Gusman, Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi, the writer Linn Ulmann,Jude Law and directors Johnnie To, Olivier Assayas and Mahamat Saleh Haroun.

The young French actress continues, “When you look up the word ‘actor’ in the dictionary, you find ‘Robert de Niro’ written there. Take a look for yourselves”. At that moment, the big screen of the Grand Théâtre Lumière reveals a montage of de Niro’s finest performances. Heat, The Godfather, A Bronx Tale and the incomparableTaxi Driver. De Niro himself finally arrives onstage and utters a few words in French. “Thanks for having invited me to be the President of the 64th Festival de Cannes. I hope I’ll do a good job and thanks again.”

In a first musical tribute to Robert de Niro, his home town and that of the festival he founded, the Tribeca Film Festival, young jazzman Jamie Cullum plays a medley of Frank Sinatra’s New York New York and Alicia Keys’ New York. To close the ceremony, an honorary Palme d’or is awarded to Bernardo Bertolucci. “I want toe dedicate this honour to Woody Allen and Bobby de Niro. And also to all those Italians who have had the courage to struggle, to criticise and to get angry.” The Palme given to Bernardo Bertolucci will henceforth be awarded at the opening ceremony of the Festival each year.

Amongst the innovations of the 2011 edition is the idea of welcoming a guest country to Cannes each year; Egypt will be the first country, chosen this year to begin the tradition.
Egypt will be welcomed in 2011 as a country who, through its revolution of January 25, has informed the world of its need to change the course of history and of its need for freedom, while demonstrating its collective strength and expressing its desire for democracy; it will also be welcomed as a country with a strong history in film, whose presence in Cannes has always been justified.

This day, when the late Youssef Chahine will be remembered, will serve to underline the strength of Egyptian cinema, which will be represented by directors, actors, producers and technicians.

This tribute to Egypt will take place on Wednesday May 18 and will unfold as follows:

– screening of 18 jours, a work grouping the short films of Sherif Arafa, Yousry Nasrallah, Mariam Abou Ouf, Marwan Hamed, Mohamed Aly, Kamla Abou Zikri, Sherif El Bendari, Khaled Marei, Ahmad Abdallah and Ahmad Alaa.

Ten film-makers, twenty actors, six writers, eight cameramen, eight sound engineers, five set-designers, three costume designers, seven film editors, three post-production companies and a dozen technicians filmed ten short film stories based on the January 25 revolution in Egypt, all under pressure, without a budget and on a totally voluntary basis. Ten stories they had either witnessed, heard or imagined. All profits from the film will be given towards the organisation of political and public education missions in Egyptian villages.

The screening will be followed by an official dinner organised as a tribute to Egypt, with many guests invited, including the Egyptian Culture Minister and the Egyptian ambassador to France.

In addition :

– as part of the Cannes Classics selection : screening of a new copy of Facteur (Al Bostagui) by Hussein Kamal (Egypt, 1968)

– at the Cinéma de la Plage : screening of Le Cri d’une fourmi by Sameh Abdel Aziz (Egypt, 2011)

And finally a concert with a group of Egyptian musicians, West El Balad, will kick-start the “Fête des Sélections”, a party to be held for the Official Selection on May 18.

Special Screenings :

Plus jamais peur by Mourad Ben Cheikh (Tunisia), a documentary about the Tunisian revolution. A delegation of Egyptian film-makers will also take part in the opening night upon the invitation of French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand.

The Big Fix by Josh Tickell (USA), a documentary produced by Peter Fonda.

School Screenings for secondary pupils:

Les Hommes Libres by Ismäel Ferrouki (Morocco/France) with Michael Lonsdale and Tahar Rahim

Prodigies an 3D animation film by Antoine Charreyron

Photo du film Tamantashar Yom (18 jours) 

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