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Cannes 2017: Catharine's blog

Posted 16 Jun 2017 by Catharine Des Forges in Festival Reports, General

Geu Hu

Hong Sang-soo's latest Geu-Hu

Sadly, we're nearing the end of our Cannes reports and will soon have to start day dreaming about future film festivals. After accounts from Jo, Kenny, Jonny and Duncan, here's a whistle stop tour of what a trip to Cannes means for the Director of the ICO, Catharine Des Forges.

I arrived in Cannes at around 9.30 on Sunday morning having got a flight at 6am so it’s always a triumph of hope over experience if you make it to midnight without falling asleep. I’ve got 3 days though, so I always want to make the most of the time! There’s something special always about coming into Cannes, seeing the sea sparkle and watching people in heels and evening dress saunter down the croisette in the mid-day sun. My first date of the festival is a meeting with the Creative Europe desk from Italy about some possible training and it’s in the EU pavilion which has its own hand-crafted macaroons so I decide that this is probably a very nice place to conduct your professional business. cinema ritrovato

Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna

I catch up with Briony from the British Council on another pavilion beach and manage to dip my toes in the water…! The British Council are great partners in our DYFF course which is taking place in June in Edinburgh and this year we are hosting a session with them on inclusion and access focussing on deaf filmmakers and audiences. My next appointment is at the Hotel Carlton for the Europa Cinemas Network meeting. This is a great opportunity to see programmers and colleagues from the UK but also to catch up with alumni and speakers from our courses and European colleagues from a number of different projects. The Carlton Grand Salon has opulent chandeliers and looks like a film set so I feel straight away that I’m experiencing the magic of Cannes. We receive reminders of some of the great opportunities offered by Europa –  the 28 Times Cinema Project which will see aspiring young journalists from around Europe attend the Venice Film Festival and the upcoming lab at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bolgona – certainly a course which could lay claim to the best food on any training course ever.

The evening sees the arrival of my colleagues and we go out to dinner – our flat is in the middle of a lively restaurant quarter which is a good and bad thing….obviously not so great at 3am…and then onto a screening of The Square - on show at Summer Screening Days - which unbeknownst to me (and which I didn’t predict) will go on to win the Palme d’Or.

happy end

Michael Haneke's Happy End

Monday and Tuesday are for screenings – I see the new Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Michael Haneke’s Happy End, Geu-Hu by Hong Sang-soo, Naomi Kawase’s Hikari and 24 Frames by Abbas Kiarostami. There’s a lot of competition favourites in there and all have merit although for some - Hong Sang-soo, Haneke -  we’re definitely treading familiar ground. Of these, the strongest is probably The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Colin Farrell once again stars, this time with Nicole Kidman, and fans of The Lobster will not be disappointed although this seems to be forming part of an oeuvre rather than, as Dogtooth, heralding an arresting new voice. It has a very eerie quality to it, with unsettling performances and a shocking climax and it’s interesting to see such an original, left-field voice working with mainstream stars in this way but I personally would like to have seen a more economic use of narrative. There’s still time for the Nordic party, a festival institution with its festival DJ dance-off, inspired moves and wonderful waterside location, always slightly crazy and completely unmissable. It’s a short but productive stay and testament to the fact that you don’t need to have a long stay to get some business done.

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