Day 1 – Monday 19th May
Returning to Cannes for my second festival, I was fairly confident of negotiating the busy schedule far better than I had the previous year. With the new ticketing system allowing festival-goers to request tickets well in advance, I hoped to see several competition films from some of my favourite directors working today (Audiard, Sorrentino and Villeneuve to name a few).
It surprised me how familiar everything felt this time around, and make no mistake about it, Cannes Film Festival is a strange (but wonderful) experience. It’s hard to imagine many places where lowly film programmers such as I can rub shoulders with A-list celebrities in the street or accidentally walk amongst supermodels on the Croisette as they perform a live fashion show.
Of course it’s also possible to watch the year’s best films from across the globe, and after a slightly delayed flight, I arrived in Cannes too late to queue for Todd Haynes’ Carol, which has so far received rave reviews, but took a chance at the back of the long queue for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film Cemetery of Splendour, which was screening as part of Un Certain Regard. I managed to get in and find a seat at the back of the Debussy, and spend two hours engrossed in a wonderfully unique film.Whilst not quite on a par with the excellent Palme D’or winning Uncle Boonmee…, this is nevertheless another beautifully composed and thoroughly engaging work, that should delight fans of Apichatpong and poetic cinema alike.
Following the screening I just had time to return to the apartment, shower and change for the ICO dinner, which was a great opportunity to chat with distributors and partners from across the industry. It also provided an opportunity for some pretty spectacular pate, a food highlight of my trip this year!
Day 2 – Tuesday 20th May
Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea was playing in the Critics Week strand, and the director was there in person to explain how he adapted his short film A Ciambra (which played Critic’s Week last year), to create this complex and topical film. It follows an African migrant from Burkina Faso, Ayiva, as he crosses the Mediterranean sea to try and eke out a living in Italy. An intimate and at times harrowing film, it portrays the harsh realities of Ayiva’s struggles, and does a fine job of telling this very human story, all set within the context of a truly global issue. The topical nature of the film should result in strong press, and it will be interesting to see if that will help the film receive worthy distribution in the UK.