by Jane Rosenstein
The Cannes Film Festival is an exciting event where new movies are shown. Also, visitors get opportunities to see the stars. Producers try to sell and lease their new films.
Journalists and photographers must stand in long lines to see movies in the Palace de Festival and at other festival venues. Priority is given to those who have pink and blue badges. I had a yellow badge but was admitted as I arrived at least 45 minutes before each film. The big room Salle Lumiere was off-limits to yellow badge holders except for the morning films and midnight movies. We could not attend the closing ceremony but watched it on closed-circuit TV in a press room.
Also, those with special television company badges received tickets to attend the screening in the Grand Théatre Lumiere. There were other films which required press or media badges to attend. Many people lined up outside the Palace de Festival holding up signs for the movies they wanted to attend seeking free tickets from those who had them but could not attend. I did not see anyone get a ticket. These people were students and other attendees who could get into the Palace de Festival but did not have tickets for the films.
There was also a screen set up on the beach in the evenings for the public to watch films but the attendance was not that numerous.
I greatly enjoyed being invited to attend some festive cocktail parties, including one on a yacht, where I met film producers, other journalists, photographers, and media producers. Watching the stars promenade along the red carpet going up to the Théâtre Lumiere was also a very special experience.
An interesting sidebar written by Stephen Garret appeared in The Observer reported there were some stars precluded from strolling the carpet without high heels.
Cannes may turn up its nose at the slightest fashion faux pas, but this time the festival’s sartorial snobbery backfired in a big way. At the black-tie premiere of Todd Haynes’ lesbian romance Carol (already a feminist coup de coeur), some women were refused entry because their footwear was vertically-challenged. High heels only, ladies—no matter if you’re in your 50s or even have medical conditions (a few, in fact, did). Those rhinestone flats will not cut it on the red carpet.
Emily Blunt, here with Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin to promote the pitch-black police thriller Sicario, was asked about the tapis rouge controversy and lived up to her last name with an answer that did not mince words. “That’s very disappointing, obviously,” she said during her film’s press conference. “I think everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels anyway. I just prefer wearing Converse sneakers.”
I had the pleasure and privilege to have two interviews with USA producers about their films.
Punk’s Dead is a film written and directed by James Morendino whom I interviewed in the apartment he was renting in Cannes. To promote punk music James Morendino wrote and directed this 75-minute production that took 5 years to produce. James Morendino was born in Long Branch, NJ and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah when he was 6 years old. He was raised as a Catholic in a Mormon city and attended a Catholic university specializing in theology. He felt like a non-conformist and shared the feelings of those playing punk music. Presently James lives in L.A.
The film follows 2 punk rockers that live in Salt Lake City and their nihilistic lives. James told me that his movie “A River Made to Drown” in 1997 helped the Gay community since Richard Chamberlain came out as gay after its release.
Punk’s Dead was filmed in Salt Lake City. One of the difficulties in filming was that some scenes were filmed at rock concerts and the crew had to be away from crowds. James said his film will appeal mostly to young adults, but some older adults could enjoy it too. He is hoping to distribute his film in the USA, Europe, and South America.
“You must meet my director,” said Patrick Scahill as we took a bus back to our hotels in Cannes La Boca. Patrick is here for the festival with a film he produced but was written and directed by an up and coming female director from Los Angeles, Daniela Festa.
Daniela wrote and directed an 8-minute short film called Blur. Patrick was happy to tell me that the film was being received extremely well and that multiple US and international distributors were taking an interest in the film. I met him and his director Daniela Festa near the main entrance of the Palais de Festival.
They told me that their main focus in cinema is at the forefront of social issues. After the Boston Bombings in 2013, Daniela felt compelled by the event and wrote the film Blur only a few months later. The film is about a very gifted runner who returns home after the bombings and finds himself physically unable to run due to PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder formerly called shell shock). The main character, Trek, is portrayed by actor Lucas Bane. Bane is a young gifted actor who has been featured by Bravo (US TV station) as well as the Huffington Post. Bane recently gained international exposure after a video of his proposal to his boyfriend went viral, and a former high school bully sent him a heartfelt apology letter asking Bane forgiveness. Bane plays opposite to Scott Vance, Coach, who was in ClintEastwood’s “Jersey Boys”.
The objective of this short film is to expose the difficulties of the post-dramatic syndrome; how one deals with themselves as well as with their friends and families while they work through their trauma. Daniela explains, “So many times PTSD is portrayed as something to be hushed up or pushed away, we hear about the events that cause it, but never how to help the person who suffers from it. I wanted to make a film with a commentary on the larger topic of how we deal with mental health in the US”. Daniela and Patrick plan to continue making films that are pushing the boundaries on social issues.
When I was walking in Cannes, I met Rosemary da Casta-Egbe and her husband Albert Egbe. She told me that they were there to see how to market films. Rosemary is an actress/director and their film is” Lord of the Creeks” by Albert Egbe. Rosemary and her husband come from Nigeria but currently live in South Africa. She invited me to a cocktail party at the pavilion from South Africa. What a warm welcome I received by the people at the pavilion! Refreshments of wine, beer and soft drinks accompanied by hors d’oevres were served.
The Village International was created in 2002 by the Festival of Cannes to offer attendees from countries of cinema opportunities to mingle with others from their respective countries. This year 62 countries had pavilions. The American Pavilion, director Emma Griffiths, offered coffee and opportunities for USA attendees to have discussions and relax on their patio overlooking the Mediterranean. Also, there was a conference about film acquisitions at the American Pavilion where I met some film directors.
INDUSTRY IN FOCUS: AMERICAN DIRECTORS AT CANNES
- Pippa Bianco (Share) Cinéfondation Competition
- Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room) Directors’ Fortnight
- Trey Edward Shults (Krisha) Critics’ Week
- Moderated by Aaron Hillis
The presenters explained that for a film to be sold or leased it must have an identifiable audience;Studios make the film expensively and it takes time to buy the packaged product. Tom Ford ‘s film sold for $20 million.
The new sales for video on demand and streaming were discussed; The challenge is to say what is marketable. Buyers buy off the promos rather than view the whole film. In a quest to see some good films and get the reactions of other journalists I watched several films. I particularly enjoyed “The Little Prince a “must-see movie based on the novel Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint- Exupéry. Mark Osborne produced the film which I will present in another article.
I was invited to a special showing of “Los Olividados “ a film which was Bolivia’s pick for entering the competition “Best Foreign Language Film in the Academy Awards. It is about the persecution of those who went against the government in the revolutions in South America. This film merits special coverage in another article.
A documentary called “La Glace et le Ciel (Ice and Sky)”, a film by Luc Jacquet which will bein the movie theatres in France on 21 October was very interesting. Claude Lorius, now 82years old said he thinks like 23. He replied to an ad in 1955 to go to Antarctica to explore the ice glaciers. Without the assistance of modern computers, he and others tested the ice to determine climatic changes in our earth’s environment for many centuries.
While standing in line to watch Nie Yinnaing “ The Assasin” a film by Hou Hsiao-Hsien who won the award for best director. I met Nicolas Thevenin from the company Republiques a magazine for the film. He did not like “Youth” and I asked him why. He said “ Good actors do not make a good movie.
I found it hard to follow the story of The Assasin about a young girl sent to the land of her birth to kill the man to whom she was promised to be wed. After 13years she comes back and must choose to sacrifice the man she loves or depart forever with the sacred way of righteous assassins. The costumes were breathtaking. I asked the Chinese lady next to me if she liked the film and could understand it. She said it was some ancient Chinese and she didn’t really care for the film.
“Le Trésor ( The Treasure)”, a film by Corneliu Porrumboiu was recommended to me because of its director. It is a story about two men who search for a treasure. I found the film to be very slow. The acting was good but the story was boring to me. It won the prize from Un Regard the prize Prixe Un Certain Talent for a special talent
Also “Hrutar (Béllers/ Rams) directed by Grimur Hakonarson won the prize for Un Certain Regard for the relationship between man and animals. I found this film boring and not very interesting at all. It was about rams that were infected and a farmer hid his thinking they were not infected and drove them away. The film was sad. Some liked it.
“Shan He Gu Ren” (Mountains May Depart) by Jia Zhang-Ke was another film that most did not like. It was well-acted but the plot was just about a lady who was divorced and her son who was sent to be raised and schooled by his father in Australia.
“Valley of Love” directed by Guillaume Nicloux starring Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert was not fantastic. Those I spoke to found the film about a divorced couple following instructions from their deceased son to go together to see him appear in Death Valley CA very boring.
The director of” Lamb” Yared Zeleke mounted the stage before the filming and told us he was honored to be at Cannes Festival and it was a dream come true. He dedicated the film to his grandmother. It is a story about an Ethiopian boy Ephraim, who is sent from home by his father, his mother is deceased, to live with his father’s relatives. Ephraim loves his sheep and does everything he can to protect him from being slaughtered for an upcoming religious holiday and even seeks to find his way back home… I found this film enjoyable as it showed the relationship between the young boy and his sheep and also depicted the life of poverty in Ethiopia. The family did not even have sufficient money to eat well all the time. Others too liked this film. The director commented in his commentary that he like Ephraim liked to cook. In the film at first, the family criticizes Etiam for cooking but later accepts it when he sells the food to raise money for the family. The traditional African saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is well depicted in “Lamb “as the family took care of Ephraim and he grew close to them and their customs.
Those I spoke to enjoyed being in Cannes at the Festival de Cannes but were disappointed in some movies. They were there to critique the movies and meet others. They told me that enjoyed being in the festival atmosphere, seeing movies and stars and making good connections.