Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Cannes IFF: A Big Wrap


Poster for 'Midnight in Paris' with Owen Wilson

One of the most pleasant surprises of the 64th Festival de Cannes, which ran May 11 - 22, and wrapped Sunday, was the good reception of Woody Allen's latest movie, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, an imaginative romantic comedy where a character takes a late night walk in Paris and is transported back to the 1920s. He finds himself hobnobbing with literary giants Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, plus Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

The film had its international premiere on Opening Night, screening out of competition. Some of the buzz words from critics were: "upbeat", "funny", "very enjoyable", "Allen's best in years," and the film they most often compared to it? THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1985), starring Mia Ferrow, Jeff Daniels and Danny Aiello, in which a character walks out of a film and into the life of a vulnerable young New Jersey woman in the 1930s.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was filmed last year in the French capital. Allen brings together a broad international cast, including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (First Lady of France), Gad Elmaleh and Léa Seydoux.

The other surprise movie at Cannes that received accolades was THE ARTIST* by French director Michel Hazanavicius. It was not made in the 1920s, but is set in that era. Shot in black and white, it is a silent movie, a study in light and shadows. (* denotes an Cannes award winner.)

THE ARTIST screened in competition. The viewers and critics absolutely loved this movie about movies. Where is it written that all movies today must be shot in color, in high def or 3D, and have dialogue, a pop music score, and a budget of astronomical proportions?  Yes, this one is special for more than one reason. It is also a French movie filmed in Hollywood, no less.

Another buzzed-about movie is Joseph Cedar's Hebrew-language black comedy FOOTNOTE* (Israel). Three years ago, Cedar's BEAUFORT was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar, and he won two Silver Bears at Berlin for directing it, and for the screenplay. But whereas that movie is rich with political overtones, FOOTNOTE does not overtly deal with things political, but with a complicated relationship between a Jewish son and his father. Sony Picture Classics snatched up the North and Latin American rights immediately. 

Also, on Opening Night, the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci was presented an honorary Palme d'or for lifetime achievement (see previous posts), and 17 May the Festival honored French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo with a special day. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Belmondo worked with the Crème de la Crème of cinema auteurs such as Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, François Truffaut, Claude Lelouch, Alain Resnais, Vittorio de Sica and Alberto Lattuada, in THAT MAN FROM RIO, BREATHLESS, PIERROT LE FOUR, MISSISSIPPI MERMAID, LE MAGNIFIQUE and STAVISKY AND BORSALINO, just a few movies in which he starred that showed his extraordinary acting range.

Like Bertolucci on his night, Belmondo walked the Red Carpet surrounded by friends and admirers. Later, he attended the première of Vincent Perrot and Jeff Domenech’s documentary BELMONDO, THE CAREER. The screening was followed by a dinner and party.

It would not be a film festival without a controversy, and Danish director Lars von Trier, MELANCHOLIA *, set off a storm when he spoke at a press conference about finding out when his mother was on her death bed that
he was not a Jew. His controversial statement was something like, "I have nothing against Jews, but, O.K., I'm a Nazi." 

 
Lars von Trier apologized for his remarks, but was banned from Cannes with this statement, "The board of directors firmly condemns these comments and declares Lars Von Trier a persona non grata at the Festival de Cannes, with effect immediately."

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Closing Night the official Jury of this 64th Festival de Cannes, presided over by Robert De Niro, revealed the prize winners during the Closing Ceremony. Actress Jane Fonda was escorted onstage at the Grand Théâtre Lumière by Mélanie Laurent. Fonda presented the Palme d'or for the best film among the 20 in Competition.

The evening closed with the screening of Christophe Honoré's BELOVED (Les Bien-aimés), starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni (Deneuve's daughter with Marcello),  Ludivine Sagnier, Louis Garrel and Milos Forman. 

Poster for 'The Tree of Life' with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn
And the awards went to:

FEATURE FILMS

Jury headed by U.S. actor/director/producer Robert De Niro. Members of the Jury were: French writer/director Olivier Assayas; Argentinian producer Martina Gusman; director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun who was born in Chad; U.K. actor/producer Jude Law; producer of Chinese-language films Nansun Shi; U.S. actress Uma Thurman; Hong Kong director Johnnie To; and Norway-born writer and journalist Linn Ullmann.


Terrence Malick
   Palme d'or - THE TREE OF LIFE (USA), written and directed by Terrence Malick, starrng Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, and Hunter McCracken. In 1979, Malick won the best director at Cannes for DAYS OF HEAVEN. More about this movie in the next post.

Grand Prix - BIR ZAMANLAR ANADOLU’DA (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and THE KID WITH A BIKE, directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne.

Best Director - Nicolas Winding Refn for DRIVE.

Jury Prize - POLISS by Maiwenn.

Best Performance for an Actor - Jean Dujardin in THE ARTIST, directed by Michel Hazanavicius.

Best Performance for an Actress - Kirsten Dunst in MELANCHOLIA, directed by Lars von Trier.

Award for the Best Screenplay - Joseph Cedar for FOOTNOTE.



SHORT FILMS IN COMPETTION

Palme d'or - CROSS-COUNTRY by Maryna Vroda, and Jury Prize - BADPAKJE 46 (Swimsuit 46) by Wannes Drstoop.

CAMERA d'or - LAS ACACIAS  by  Pablo GIORGELLI, presented in the framework of the the CRITICS' WEEK.

UN CERTAIN REGARD - 21 May, presented 21 films directed by 22 directors hailing from 19 different countries. Two of the works were first films. The Jury was presided over by Emir Kusturica (Director, actor and musician - Serbia). The Jury members were: Elodie Bouchez (Actress - France), Peter Bradshaw (Critic-The Guardian - U.K.), Geoffrey Gilmore (Chief Creative Officer-Tribeca Enterprises - USA), Daniela MICHEL (Director of the Morelia Festival - Mexico).

PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD Ex-æquo - ARIRANG by Kim Ki-Duk, shared with HALT AUF FREIER STRECKE (Stopped on Track) by Andreas Dresen.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE - ELENA by Andrey Zvyagintsev.

DIRECTING PRIZE - BÉ OMID É DIDAR (Au revoir), Mohammad Rasoulof.


CINEFONDATION - Presented 20 May and Showcasing Student Films:

The Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury (Julie Gayet, Jessica Hausner, Corneliu Porumboiu, João Pedro Rodrigues and President Michel Gondry) awarded the Cinéfondation Prizes during a ceremony in Buñuel Theatre before the screening of the winning films.

Sixteen student films coming from Asia, America and Europe composed this year’s program. They have been selected out of 1,600 entries.

First Cinéfondation Prize - DER BRIEF (The Letter) by Doroteya Droumeva, dffb, Germany, awarded € 15,000; Second Cinéfondation Prize - DRARI  by Kamal Lazraq, La Fémis, France, awarded € 11,250; Third Cinéfondation Prize, YA-GAN-BI-HANG (Fly by Night) by Son Tae-gyum, Chung-Ang University, South Korea, awarded € 7,500.



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