Without a doubt, when I took part in my first Cannes Festival in 2001 for the Youth Prize, I never imagined I’d return year after year and still be here in 2012. After 5 blogs (the first, 9 years ago, dedicated to this festival), 13 seats on film festival juries (10 of them on writing), 10 years of studying (law, political science, cultural mediation, film), my gut passion for film and writing, my irrepressible desire to share it (especially collecting 13 news items on film, for which I’m looking for an editor – my listeners please note! – as well as scriptwriting) are more than ever alive and kicking. Eleven years later, after covering lots of ground, I’m there again with the same enthusiasm, the same insatiable curiosity as the first time I discovered, fascinated, the head-spinning legendary Grand Théâtre Lumière and its divinely decadent rituals. It’s this festival, the biggest “window on the world”, an intoxicating whirlwind, which feeds my passion for film.
Of course, I know the pitfalls and setbacks of this theater of vanities, this fascinating and terrifying human comedy, the versatility of its personalities and advice all for a burst of vanity. I know that so many dreams are shattered, that Cannes can incense, crush, magnify, devastate and discard, and that by dazzling, fascinating and alienating, the film itself is sometimes eclipsed by everyone doing their thing. But Cannes still remains the greatest declaration of love for film, and an opportunity for emerging film makers to reveal themselves to the world, revealing a world to us. Theirs. And ours.
This year like every other, the competition reflects the vast diversity of world cinema, including all the angers, hurts, shadows and sunshines of the world, and sometimes its poetry. Certainly this applies to “Like Someone in Love” by Kiarostami, the film I’m anticipating the most. For his 5th time as competitor, this Iranian film maker who won the Palme d’Or in 1997 for “Le goût de la cerise” (Taste of Cherry), takes us to Japan. I’m also indebted to him for one of my greatest Cannes film eye-openers with “Copie conforme” (Certified Copy), a film that questions more than it answers – in a playful, unique, celebratory way – with a rich accomplished performance by Juliette Binoche, luminous and sensual, lending itself to multiple interpretations and evoking a style of art in which interpretation depends on the viewer’s point of view. This film is an embodiment of that theory, a brilliant reflection on art and love.
“Amour” (Love) is the simple cryptic title of the film by Michael Haneke, returning to competition three years after winning the Palme d’Or for his austere screenplay on trenchant, deranging cruelty, “Le Ruban Blanc” (The White Ribbon). Once again he challenges our perceptions – a film I’m particularly curious to discover, also because it sees Jean-Louis Trintignant return to the screen.
I also have great expectations for the latest film by a director whose work paradoxically seem to be getting more and more juvenile and inventive: “Vous n’avez encore rien vu” (You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet) by Jean Anouilh is really an homage to cinema and theater.
And I’m just as hungry to taste another of the three French films in the competition: “De rouille et d’os” (Rust and Bone) by Jacques Audiard, three years after his Grand Prix for “Un Prophète” (A Prophet), a story that interweaves love and the brutality of existence. The subject, screenplay, and interpretation seem particularly promising.
Other treats I’m anticipating: a film by Catherine Corsini in the Un Certain Regard category, which Thierry Frémaux has defined as “a crime film you could say was inspired by Claude Sautet”, who by the way is one of my favorite film-makers: and who can refute that.
I’m also expecting a lot from “Reality” by Matteo Garrone. As well as from “The Hunt” by Vinterberg in which a white lie transforms the protagonist into a villain in the minds of the villagers, a film about rumor which, at Cannes, so often crescendoes to a climax.
I also need to mention “Killing Them Softly” which marks Andrew Dominik’s return after his masterful twilight Western “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; “Cosmopolis”, which interestingly reconciles glamour and art films; “Laurence Anyways” by Xavier Kolan after his stylish fantasy “Les amours imaginaires” (Heartbeats). I’m curious to see how “Confession d’un enfant du siècle” (Confession of a Child of the Century) has adapted Musset’s work, and how Walter Sales has adapted Kerouac’s “On the Road”.
I want to see again “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Cléo de 5 à 7″ (Cleo 9-5) and “Tess”. Restored copies of these are being screened as part of Cannes Classics and should provide great emotional moments.
Also on my list is “Une journée particulière” by Gilles Jacob, a documentary I recently discovered on the 60 years of the Festival entitled “Chacun son cinéma” (To Each His Own Cinema) which will be screened for the Festival’s 65th anniversary in the presence of 18 of the film-makers in the anthology, a film that lingers on “the geography of an expression” concentrating on the artists. Great echoes of the Festival’s history with film highlights that focus on faces and cinematographic rituals, like this story within a story within a story… Along the way, we sense the juvenile mischievousness of Gilles Jacob, but the approach is always tender, well-meaning. His documentary spotlights what characterizes a great film-maker, a great screenwriter: the character immediately identifiable by its gaze onto the world and its universe.
Predicting a winner means asking “What are the characteristics of a Palme d’Or?” A film that accurately portrays a view of the world? A film with a social, political, philosophical message? A timeless film? A film that celebrates cinematographic art and its components in their firmament? A film that transports us, blows us away, moves us? A film that makes us question? A film that provides answers?
Nanni Moretti, a maker of “engaged” films, could opt for a movie that resonates with current events, like that of Yousri Nasrallah. Or Kiarostami’s work to whom he dedicated a “short” and to whom he was partially responsible for awarding 1997 Palme d’Or (was on the jury). Marion Cotillard or Matthias Schoenaerts could receive an interpretation award, a roundabout way of rewarding Jacques Audiard who will face a lot of competitors for screenplay. I can’t help hoping for a Best Screenplay for Resnais, who always comes up with amazing screenwriting. But I really don’t want to second-guess anything and instead enjoy the heady surprises and discoveries of the film world and Cannes.
I’m not taking any risks, however, when I predict 11 days of an exquisitely unsettling intertwining of fiction and reality in a languorous tango that annihilates boundaries and references, where life is exhilarating, heart-thumping, intoxicating. There’s nothing like cinema…
Later this afternoon, discover a portrait of Nicolas Gilli, the blogger who hides behind filmosphere.com…See you later !