The 2010 Cannes Film Festival is a mere few days away, starting May 12 and ending May 23. I wanted to get an idea of how the French press viewed the current crop of nominees and see if there was a buzz already surrounding certain films in the official and unofficial competition.
To begin with, a little disclaimer: I consider myself quite well versed in most things movies, but my geographic location is starting to severely hamper my ability to see many of the films nominated. In addition, looking at the crop of films and their directors, I had to admit knowing only a few of them. There’s a test you can take to see how many you actually know, no cheating allowed, and the list is available on this site.
The official poster for the festival — featuring the actress Juliette Binoche — has been revealed. Binoche — all in black, armed with a luminous paintbrush — is seen writing Cannes in playful, fluid strokes. It’s an elegant and simple poster.
As custom dictates, the jury is quite an eclectic mix of nationalities and professions (actors, directors, writers), with Kate Beckinsale being viewed as a fairly lightweight member in terms of her output to date. However, there is agreement on Tim Burton as the president, since it’s also the first time that the Jury has been presided over by someone heavily invested in the field of animation.
Right now the only real controversy surrounding the festival has had to do with broadcasting rights and the restrictions applicable to the press in terms of festival coverage. Canal Plus, one of the big sponsors, doesn’t want its bottom line affected but it’s unclear exactly how the restrictions will be applied to journalists from press agencies such as France-Presse and Reuters. They want unrestricted access to the events similar to that which they enjoyed in the past. Canal Plus would like to limit their access in order to take full advantage of the publicity generated and advertisement in order to maximize exposure and its profits. Journalists retaliated by boycotting the first Festival Press Conference, which took place in April.
According to French Premiere, one of France’s top publications on films, the selection is filled with critical favorites such as Kiarostami, Rachid Bouchareb and Mike Leigh returning, but there are also relatively new players in the mix — including three French films: one by well-known French director Bertrand Tavernier, one by actor Mathieu Almaric and one by relative unknown Xavier Beaubois. The only American film in competition is Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” which features Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in their third film together.
One film certain to stir up passions, either for or against, is by that “enfant terrible” of French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard. His movie is “Film Socialisme,” a provocative title indeed. A preview of this movie can be seen at the end of this article, in an abbreviated and accelerated format lasting four minutes.
Kristin Scott-Thomas will open and close the event. She is widely considered to be the most French of the British actresses and Ridley Scott’s movie “Robin Hood,” not in competition, will open the festival. The Australian movie “The Tree,” by Julie Bertucelli and featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, will close the festival.
Another main event gathering some steam is the projected screening of the film “Stones in Exile” by Stephen Kijak. This film deals with a period of intense turmoil in the Rolling Stones’ lives and the making of the album “Exile on Main Street” in the South of France. The album was released in 1972 and the Stones will be in attendance for this premiere event. This film is not in competition.
In conclusion, there is no real buzz for the Palme d’Or yet (it’s too early to start making predictions), but there are a few standouts already — even though they are not in the running for the main prize.
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