This year I had the pleasure of a late ticket to Cannes, which I have been secretly coveting for years. I had heard rumours about all the Palme d’Or competition films being played back-to-back on the final weekend, no queues, less frivolity, and other such dreams of accessibility and I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to have all my key meetings to finalise plans for our Developing Your Film Festival training course in the first few days then I managed to watch 10 films, which is my all-time record in my 7th year of attending the festival. These are the four films that have stayed with me:
This was absolutely the standout film of the festival for me. My expectations were incredibly high after several colleagues had queued to see it for hours and hours and never managed to get in, but I was not disappointed. Set in a run-down, out-of-fashion, pastel tinted old holiday complex, the film tells the story of a pivotal summer for a struggling single Mum and her adorable, precocious, six-year-old daughter. The film is visually stunning and utterly boisterous and child star Brooklynn Prince has a particularly contagious giggle. By the end the film is also emotionally devastating, but whats really spectacular in this hotly anticipated follow up film after award-winning Tangerine, Sean Baker manages to tell a fresh, beautiful, energetic, compassionate story that creates sympathies for characters who are never usually treated with this much care,and leaves the audience unsure what moral conclusions to draw. It’s like if Ken Loach got drunk and made a musical (but its not a musical), and then sobers up for the final 20 mins. I cant wait for someone else in the office to see it!
Another film with a stellar performance from a young child actress, I loved the look and feel and passion of this story. What an achievement for a new filmmaker. Again I was left bereft by the ending (there’s a bit of a theme emerging here isn’t there?), but its a new story that’s not been told before, with a very distinct look and unique style. I can’t wait to see the next film from Rungano Nyoni.
I love Fatih Akin’s early films so I am incredibly biased (one of the few masters in telling real stories about diaspora experience) so for me, this was a solid return to form, and a film he needed to make, from the perspective of a German woman whose husband and child are murdered. Devastating and brutal, I would have liked a different ending. (another absolute weepy, staying on theme!)
I’d also like to give a special mention to Jupiter’s Moon, which was certainly not a perfect film, but I loved the ambition and vision of it. Finally a film about the refugee crisis that tries something unique, it tells of a young Syrian refugee who makes his way to Hungary, only to discover he has the ability to fly. My favourite scene involves him being taken to a posh restaurant by his Hungarian accomplice, who patronisingly talks him through the different cutlery and napkin options, only to be asked: Do you know what I miss most about my bedroom at home in Syria? My PlayStation. Just a stark reminder of what Syria was like pre-war.