Friday, May 21, 2010

Critics Week Winners, and Possible Palm d'or Winners, at Cannes

SERIES: Major Film Festivals

63rd Cannes International Film Festival, 12 - 23 May 2010

A documentary about the Afghanistan war from Denmark won the top Grand Prix Semaine de la Critique, as the Critics Week section came to a close in Cannes. ARMADILLO, directed by Janus Metz, is the first documentary to screen in competition since the section became competitive twenty years ago.

In other Critics Week Awards, both the SACD Prize and ACID/CCAS Support went to BI, DUNG SO! (Bi, Don't be Afraid!), directed by Vietnamese Phan Dang Di (or Dang Di Phan); the Young Critic Award (OFAJ) went to directors Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjaerne Nilsson for SOUND OF NOISE; the Canal+ Award for Best Short Film went to BERIK, directed by Daniel Joseph Borgman; and Kodak Discovery Award for Best Short Film was awarded to DEEPER THAN YESTERDAY, directed by Ariel Kleiman.

Two films screened in competition last night at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival. FAIR GAME, the only American film in competition, and Ken Loach's ROUTE IRISH (see previous post).

FAIR GAME (USA), directed by Doug Liman (THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM), starring Naomi Watts (Valerie Plame Wilson) and Sean Penn (Joe Wilson) is considered a possible contender for a Palm d'Or. It is based on the saga of illegally "outed" CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

No one connected with the Bush White House has been charged with betraying Plame Wilson. However, her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, alleged that unnamed and never charged White House officials were out to discredit him after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

From the Europeans I know, and from what I have read about many there, it's highly unlikely that the voters at Cannes will have any warm and fuzzy feelings for G.W. Bush or Dick Cheney. Therefore, barring this being a terrible film, I'm putting my chip in the win column for it.

Director Ken Loach is working with his regular screenwriter, Paul Laverty in ROUTE IRISH (see previous post for more. The film stars John Bishop, Mark Womack and Geoff Bell. The cinematographer is Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS).The movie examines the difficulties experienced by British men working as contractors.

In light of the success of last year's THE HURT LOCKER, ROUTE IRISH (UK / France), cannot escape some comparison to HURT LOCKER. THE HURT LOCKER simply alluded to the problem of adjustment for returnees from Iraqi combat and Loach digs deeper. Yet, there is no doubt that Bigelow's film will be used for comparison. It is timely and topical but is it a good movie? Critics seem to be split on that.

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