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Posts from May 2007

Cannes 2007 - Wednesday 23 May

Posted Wednesday 23 May 2007 by Zoë in Festival Reports

Zoë's blog

Much ticket swopping today. Gave my Bela Tarr ticket to Simon which made his year. Swopped my Sokurov ticket for a Go Go Tales ticket – probably all highly illegal but I fancied a taste of the red carpet, I had a dress and I wanted to use it! Had breakfast with Tony from Chapter Arts, Cardiff and Alan from Phoenix Arts, Leicester – good to hear that both cinemas are on a roll and Chapter is getting a swanky refurb. Queued to get into the new Philibert – full. Note my determination!

Went to see a bit of The War as everything else had started – a seven part series of documentaries, all about two and a half hours long, focusing on real stories of American servicemen and women and their families in the Second World War. The success of the films is that the directors are able to focus in detail, given the hours of film these cover, on real people and real stories. This gives real resonance and an emotional punch, highlighting the futility of war but at the same time the sheer volume is also the film's downfall – I can't see that they will ever translate successfully to British cinemas, the content being all American stories and there's just too much of it to release theatrically.

Et toi, t'es sur qui? is Lola Doillon's first feature film and playing in Un Certain Regard – I always hope with a young director to find a great new talent – unfortunately I think Doillon has a way to go. This is a coming of age story of a group of ordinary, and not very engaging teenagers in a race to lose their virginity. I tried to imagine myself as a teenager – I think this is the only audience this film would appeal to – but even as my imagined teenage self I think I would have found it hard to identify with these characters and the filming is very straightforward so there is little to engage an audience there either. Full of hope Catharine and I queue for the final screening of the new Philibert and can you believe it… full. So in an attempt to console my disappointment and to celebrate our final night in Cannes we headed to My Grandmother's Wheelbarrow off the Rue d'Antibes on a recommendation – not quite sure what to expect, given the name, but we discovered a wonderful, very French restaurant which we both plan to return to again when next in Cannes.

12.30am, miraculously still awake and full of the contents of My Grandmother's Wheelbarrow, that dress gets a go on the red carpet – half an hour later than expected because the screening before has massively overrun so it is more of a stampede up the steps to the Palais as the normally calm staff frantically try to seat everyone in 10 minutes. Abel Ferrara, the director of Go Go Tales arrives, already looking impatient – presumably he's been waiting in a side street somewhere in one of the smart black Renault festival cars with flags, along with his cast of mainly female actresses ready for a bit of go-go dancing after the boredom of the wait. Asia Argento looks particularly naughty and practically lap dances a photographer in a wheelchair (the press go wild) and is one of the first to storm the steps of the Palais led by Ferrara with one poor security guard trying to hold them back because the ushers in the rush have forgotten to leave a couple of rows free for the talent. Ferrara ends up sitting on some random person's knee at the back of the auditorium from where he yells "who the hell is he" as the first shot from the short film which precedes Go Go Tales is projected on the grand screen. Luckily for me, I don't think there was much substance to the storyline so I pretty much got it all – boss of failing gogo dancing club buys loads and loads of lottery tickets in the hope of getting a winning ticket and saving the club from closure but I can't report on any of the go-go dancing which seems to happen mainly in the middle section of the film, apart from the fact that I was glad that Asia Argento hadn't brought her dog with her – I only hope I didn't snore – probably dreaming about one day finally getting to see the new Philibert film.

Cannes 2007 - Tuesday 22 May

Posted Tuesday 22 May 2007 by Zoë in Festival Reports

Zoë's blog

Arrived yesterday – Cannes is fantastic – films, friends, all on the beach, in the Med – it doesn't get much better than this. Had a lovely dinner with Dave from The Works last night discussing films we'd seen, what we wanted to see and what everyone else had thought of films they'd seen, the classic Cannes conversation plus a load of other stuff like becoming parents. Then managed to catch an American film called Stuck about a woman who runs down a man who ends up going through her windscreen. In a panic and believing the man to be dead she drives home and parks the car, complete with man still in the windscreen in her garage. She goes to work, he wakes up only to find himself stuck, she finds him awake and decides she has to kill him rather than admit her crime so recruits her no-good boyfriend to do the deed but our hit and run man isn't going to say sayonara that easily. Dark but funny, pretty gory too this was a very entertaining end to my first day in Cannes.

Have all my films planned today – there's always so many films in so many different cinemas that I find you really need a plan or you end up out at sea without a paddle, so to speak – first up is Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park. Van Sant is master of the slow mo shot (plenty of grainy ones of kids at the skate park raising their passion to an art form) with a real ear for a fabulous soundtrack (also achieved brilliantly) and empathy for America's disillusioned youth. The tale unravels with his mesmerising lead's conscience as bit by bit he reveals the truth about the events of one night currently being investigated as part of a police murder investigation. I liked it a lot. It's not a big ol' song and dance of a film but it's perfectly formed and you feel glad to have seen it.

Had a lovely lunch courtesy of The Times at one of the pavilions down on the beach. All the food was floating on plates on top of polystyrene discs in a big water trough which was fun – food always tastes better if you've had to work hard to get it! Talking of which, I decided it was time to tackle the complex world of the new (as of last year) ticketing system. There are three distinct areas in which to see films – all the stuff you have to queue for in cinemas spread around the Croisette and Rue d'Antibes; the films in competition which have their screenings in the Palais where the red carpet is – you must have a ticket for those; and then all the market screenings for buyers in a big hexagonal building for which you need a market badge unless you can cajole the sales agent into letting you in. Each of the Palais screenings has a number of points attached to it, so the Tarantino at 8pm might be a whopping 180 points whereas the 8.30am screenings are about 30 points. Luckily Catharine had collected badges for the whole company on the first day so given that it was Day 7 by the time I logged on to their computerised ticketing system I'd accrued loads of points, easily enough for the Tarantino, but there aren't always tickets available even if you have the points to spend – nothing left for the Tarantino but I could get tickets for Stellet Licht by Carlos Reygadas so still full of seafood up the red carpet I went in the afternoon sun.

I wish I'd saved a few bread rolls to throw at the screen whilst shouting "Get on with it". It was just too slow and the dialogue was just too stilted for me – yes, there were some exquisitely beautiful shots of dawn breaking and of children swimming in a pool of cold water and some wonderfully filmed passionate moments between the husband, his wife and his mistress though not together, although that would have livened things up a bit for which I would have been very grateful, and I'm all for showing a bit of real middle-aged passion which makes a welcome change from the plastic Hollywood variety but no, I think he just asked for too much patience from this viewer with too little reward. I knew nothing of the Mennonites on which this story focuses and the film tells us very little to help us gain more of an understanding – maybe they do take an age to respond to a question but instead of life affirmation, which I think was the point, I just left the screening feeling that life is just too short. My friend Jason Wood, writer of books and City Screen programmer who did an ‘in conversation’ event with Reygadas a couple of days later thought it was by far the best film in the festival and a work of genius, so don't take my word for it!

It's getting really hot here. Off to drinks and a quick paddle down on the beach hosted by the Edinburgh Film Festival with a lovely welcome from new Artistic Director Hannah McGill and Tilda Swinton who has joined Sean Connery as one of the festival's patron's and who's hair matches her dress – she looks stunning.

I try to get into Retour en normandie, the new film by Nicolas Philibert, one of my favourite directors – full.

Tartan Films continue to invest in new talent particularly enfants terribles and no better example of this is the new Harmony Korine (he of Gummo and Julien Donkeyboy fame) Mister Lonely. We are magically ushered into the screening on VIP tickets by Tartan after the queue we are in has just been told the screening is full – very exciting. The film is mad, great fun and has a wonderful opening – a Michael Jackson impersonator rides a mini motorbike with a soft toy monkey flying on a string behind him. The film has two storylines, seemingly unrelated – a bunch of lonely celebrity impersonators seek safety in numbers and a sense of belonging in a remote Scottish castle whilst a load of mad volleyball playing nuns test their faith by jumping out of a plane egged on by the eternally drunk Father Umbrill (my favourite performance of the festival played by Werner Herzog) – if they survive the landing, which miraculously most do, then God must be happy with their devotion to him. It felt about 20 minutes too long but is visually hilarious, his most accessible film to date and bursting with enthusiasm which was one of the reasons why the screening was so well received I think – Harmony Korine was visibly touched by the reception. I headed home, oblivious that another type of reception for the film was taking place on a yacht nearby – thankfully Catharine had her ear to the ground and picking up the scent of a swanky bash, enjoyed drinks on the yacht with Harmony Korine, Gael Garcia Bernal and the Tartan gang for as long as she was able to stay awake.

Cannes 2007 - Monday 21 May

Posted Monday 21 May 2007 by Catharine Des Forges in Festival Reports

Catharine's blog

Brangelina are in town, time for the new Michael Winterbottom film A Mighty Heart which stars Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, wife of the Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, the victim of terrorists. I love Winterbottom as a filmmaker — for me, he makes consistently interesting and accomplished cinema and even his less successful films are always a notch above most domestic directors, intelligent, assured and thoughtful. A Mighty Heart is most akin to Welcome to Sarajevo I think — it's professional and well-directed but it doesn't tell me anything new or encourage me to see things differently. The presence of Jolie is always a distraction too — the film is exec produced by Brad Pitt and presumably their involvement will make for some bumper international sales but she looks like a Hollywood actress, very thin, very beautiful and certainly not like the distraught wife of a kidnap victim. It's a sombre film as befits the subject matter but it seems very pedestrian compared to his other films in similar terrain such as In This World and Road to Guantanamo.

I then go to meet Zoe and Olivia from the Lighthouse, Poole off the bus. Time for a changeover, there is new blood and lots of enthusiasm! I have to rush back to catch Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, Van Sant is always a favourite in Cannes and this is his eagerly anticipated new work, focussing on the same teenage world as Elephant but this time featuring a single and unanticipated act of violence. Van Sant apparently recruited his non-professional cast from an ad on MySpace — like a more benevolent Larry Clark he has a knack of finding incredibly beautiful and naturalistic young actors and his young lead already seems like a star. The narrative is more conventional than Elephant and lacks that films scope and ambition. For me, it will not have the same resonance for audiences but it's still a really engaging piece of work — lyrical, experimental and with a fabulous soundtrack.

I catch up with Robert from the Barbican — we are meeting to discuss the London Children's Film Festival, what we've seen and compare notes. We meet in the European Pavilion which is by the sea — it is lovely to be here in the sun, which gives a touch of glamour to everything and everyone regardless. Then have a coffee with my friend from the BBC. Last night they were filming the U2 concert on the steps of the Palais, which, even if you are not a fan, sounds fantastic — apparently Javier Bardem was dancing up a storm on the red carpet.

There's a Film London reception on the beach also a little later — this is a lovely party with a lot of familiar faces — filmmakers, programmers, producers and friends. Then onto a dinner hosted by Metrodome — this is an annual event where exhibitors, journalists and buyers all come together and meet in a convivial atmosphere. I am between the editor of Empire and the film buyer for Sky who fills me in on their new venture with Odeon, acquiring and distributing new films together. Their first release is the Australian hit mockumentary, Kenny, which is showing in the market here.

Finally meet up with Zoe and Olivia at the Grand. They have seen Brangelina in real life! Reports are mixed, ladies are very taken with him and not with her but the male view is that she is very glamorous indeed whilst he seems quite ordinary. Even Simon has seen Harvey Weinstein three times. I put down my lack of star spotting to the fact that everyone looks like a film star here.

Cannes 2007 - Sunday 20 May

Posted Sunday 20 May 2007 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

Becky's blog

After a fairly early start on Saturday morning to see the new Michael Moore documentary Sicko – which was really enjoyable, with entertaining commentary by Moore – I make the most of my Sunday ‘lie in’ and take a leisurely stroll to the Noga Hilton at about 9am to join the queue for my first film of the day, Caramel (Nadine Labaki). I don't know much about the film but I've heard a couple of people say good things about it, and I think the title has enticed me in. I was delighted with my choice. The film is about five women who work in or frequent the local beauty salon, focusing on small segments of each of the women's lives we slowly grow to learn and care about their trials and tribulations. It is a real character-driven piece with fantastic performances by the entire cast, and avoids many of the typical stereotypes that other films fall into. What is probably most enjoyable though is the film's subtle sense of humour which leaves you smiling all the way out of the cinema.

After this I meet up with Anna at the Palais following her meeting with the some of the film distributors who provided films for the ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival. We decide to go and see Mio Fratello è Figlio Unico (My Brother is an Only Child) by Daniele Luchetti. The film focuses on Accio (Elio Germano), a young boy growing up in post-World War II Italy. Following Accio as he embarks on manhood and his constant conflicts with his family, especially his better looking, more charismatic older brother, the local authorities and, moreover, himself. The film is solid, and keeps you engaged throughout, yet I come out not quite knowing whether I liked it or not. Accio's political inclinations are a major part of the narrative and sometimes his motivations seem slightly confused, requiring further insight. However the more time I reflect on the film the more I feel I enjoyed it. Elio Germano is very good in the lead role both endearing and frustrating.

Unfortunately, as it is my last day in Cannes there isn't time to squeeze another film in before I have to leave for my flight, so I head off to grab a quick late lunch in one of the lovely back street cafes off the Rue d'Antibe – getting my last fix of fantastic French cuisine…

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