There has been a certain je ne sais quoi in the air here in Cannes, and I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on it. It bothered me, someone always good at defining a moment, person or place, that I couldn’t put that feeling into words. Then I attended the press conference for Luca Guadagnino’s ‘The Staggering Girl’ and I had a ‘EUREKA!” moment. So bear with me for a moment while I get to that…Read More
I know, most critics go to the Festival de Cannes looking forward to the Competition titles and maybe will grant themselves the joy of viewing the Un Certain Regard selection. But I’ll admit I’m more of a sidebar person, and while I will view a few great titles in the main lineups, my craves lay more in the Quinzaine (Directors’ Fortnight) and Semaine de la Critique.Read More
As a young girl, I remember watching anything that had Alain Delon in it. I had a super crush on him and, lucky me, no film of his was deemed inappropriate by my parents. So along with Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’ and ‘Rocco and his Brothers’, I also caught Delon in films like ‘The Swimming Pool’, ‘Zorro’ and yes, even ‘The Concorde… Airport ‘79’. In fact, from the latter I required that a friend of the family who knew how to knit make me a royal blue crew neck wool sweater that looked just like his. I would find you a photo but I would have to watch that entire film all over again and well, I’ve moved on from my pre-pubescent crush. And my taste in film has highly improved.
But Alain Delon remains the fascinating man, the sultry sex symbol that could even steal women away from Mick Jagger. And this year’s he’s the Festival de Cannes honorary Palme d’Or recipient. Kudos to the festival for finally getting the reclusive actor to accept their coveted lifetime award.Read More
As I learned at this year’s Qumra, held by the Doha Film Institute, the grand dame of French New Wave cinema Agnès Varda was all about finding the stories, the viewpoints that no one else would bother with. The Festival de Cannes, in its poster just unveiled for the 72nd edition of the festival, pays homage to La Varda but also to her indomitable spirit by showing the filmmaker on her first cinematic venture perched high up on a platform, atop the shoulders of a crew technician. She’s is looking to capture that image, that viewpoint which no one else would have even thought about. She is Varda, in all her perfectly humble and adventurous attitude. The same Varda who asked me, to my utter disbelief, if I’d liked her “little film” a few years ago in Cannes.Read More
I tweeted about this beauty a couple of weeks ago and stand by my word. I’m typically not a zombie kinda girl but utter Jim Jarmusch’s name and I can’t watch it fast enough. So the buzz was deafening around ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ from the time the first images of the film were released, building up to a cacophony of joy when the trailer was first shown. And don’t even get me started on Adam Driver. I mean, the man is taller than Bill Murray, which is saying a lot, and all the handsome of a young Keanu Reeves, plus acting talents to boot.
Then, this morning Cannes announced it will open its 72nd edition of the festival with the Jarmusch film, in Competition no less. On Tuesday May 14th, on the screen of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the film by the American director and screenwriter will be this year’s first Palme d'Or competition screening.Read More
On my last day in Doha, I spend the afternoon wandering around the Souq Waqif which I learned from a local filmmaker, literally translates as “the stand up souk.” In the olden days, before Qatar turned into the international, cosmopolitan country it is today, the sea would come straight into the alleys of the souk so the merchants had to stand up and pick up their wares during the tides. Thus the name, and actually while I wandered around checking out the shops, having a shawl sewn from a traditional flower fabric by a local tailor while drinking a karak chai (cardamon infused milky tea) and eating a chapatti flat bread filled with zaatar, I felt like I was transported back to those early days of the pearl divers and their haunting songs of the sea.
Doha is special place. I’ll never get tired of saying it. And their annual Qumra event, organized by the Doha Film Institute is sheer cinematic magic. Qumra is a meeting place, a five-days long networking session, a place to pitch, secure financing and ensure a screening chance for film projects. But it is also an occasion to recharge our collective passion for the movies. For journalists, producers and of course filmmakers, the atmosphere at Qumra offers an almost electric energy, a jolt of renewed hope in the future of the 7th art.Read More
A great film festival for me is defined not only by the quality of films I get to watch but also the meetings and chance encounters that happen along the way. In a queue waiting for a film to start, sitting in the lobby of a hotel waiting for an interview and sometimes, just stopping for a whole hour or two in the midst of the hectic festival schedule makes all the sense in the world.
I tried this yesterday afternoon and went to visit a friend in the restaurant of The Belvedere hotel, a good while after lunch and as interview junkets were being conducted all around me. It turned out to be the best decision of the day.Read More
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually, this edition of the Festival de Cannes turned out to be a missed opportunity, for media and juries alike to truly take charge of the #TimesUp movement and make of it a lasting course instead of a passing trend. Yes, there were stairs filled with women in pretty dresses, there were hotlines that we could call if we felt threatened or harassed, but ultimately the big prizes went to the big boys. As they have for every edition of the festival, except once, in 1993 when Jane Campion made history as the first and only woman to win the Palme d’Or.
Yet personally, I loved Cannes more than ever this year. I had a soft place to fall, in the form of a wonderful group of friends I spent my free time with, eating dinners we cooked together and drinking our morning coffee back at our cozy apartment with one breathtaking view. I mean, just look at the Disney fireworks for 'SOLO: A Star Wars Story' display from our terrace!Read More
The winner of the Palme d'Or has been announced and predictably, it's still a male-directed project. There are too few opportunities for us women around and when one of us seizes the chance, we must deal with men (boys?) putting up passive aggressive resistance all the way, and other women trying to take us down.
So, in my humble opinion this "5050X2020" movement which culminated as a red carpet moment may be fun to say and bound to light up with feminine glamour the famous staircase in Cannes, but it is not going anywhere until we aggressively and definitely take up our rightful place.
And yes, call me angry, go ahead. Make my day.Read More
One of the freshest and most romantic films I watched in Cannes was Gianni Zanasi’s ‘Lucia’s Grace’ which screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section. On Thursday night it was awarded the Label Europa Cinema prize and personally, I was elated. Zanasi’s film is another one of those modern Italian cinematic gems that have brought me home. Quite literally.
I moved back to my birth country five years ago because its newest wave of movies and filmmakers made me once again proud of being Italian. And Zanasi’s film also features as Lucia one of the most exciting young actresses in indie cinema today, Alba Rohrwacher, whom we can definitely claim as Italian but who is so much bigger and better than that label alone. Her wit, the way she can take the most basic of characters and build around them grand nuances and subtle mannerisms make her so cool that she may as well read the phone book on the big screen. And I’ll pay to watch that.Read More
From the black and white stock image reels that kick off the titles of Jean-Bernard Marlin's 'Shéhérazade', the viewer knows they'll be experiencing something different. Even though the film could at first glance appear to be yet another Romeo and Juliet type romance between star crossed lovers, it quickly unfolds into something much more unique and spellbindingly truthful.
Seventeen year old Zach (played by Dylan Roberts) comes out of jail in his native Marseille, only to find that his mother isn't picking him up, she seems to have forsaken him. He is thus taken to a group home and quickly escapes only to try and reconnect with the life that sent him to prison in the first place. But one day, his friends take him to find a prostitute, and there he meets a girl, Shéhérazade (played by Kenza Fortas) whom he remembers from school. Their encounter isn't romance perfect at first, though their "meet cute", the moment in which their stars cross in cinematic terms is perfect. And perfectly human.
Will they make it despite the entire world seemingly being against them?Read More
In the midst of the screening of Alice Rohrwacher's latest 'Happy as Lazzaro' ('Lazzaro Felice') I was overcome by a nearly unbearable sense of pride at being Italian. It's something I've come across one or two times before and I believe it is due to this new wave of fellow compatriot filmmakers who have brought back the idea of magic to Italian cinema.
As I sobbed in my seat, I realized that all the inspiration that lacked in our movies from about the late Seventies to now, has surged powerfully into a movement that has infiltrating the old status quo and created a brand new tsunami of talent in the process. And that simply takes my breath away.
When I sat with Rohrwacher a day later, she admitted that while in the past there existed a competition between Italian filmmakers as to who would be named the best one, now there is a stronger sense of community among the younger talents and that has made for better cinema.Read More
While in Cannes, I also wanted to find some answers to my own doubts, answers on how to combat the virus of fake news, how to achieve my true self and why movie theaters can never be replaced by a computer.
I found my answers in the stars. The movie stars.Read More
Every day I’m in Cannes for the Festival I deal with an internal struggle that makes existentialist wonderings seem like a trip to the ice cream shop. Should I watch films until I drop, or spend more time at the various cocktail parties that dot the Croisette every late afternoon? Is it OK to view a film on a link while sitting at my computer, or should I make sure I get to experience each and every oeuvre on the big screen, as god intended and Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux insists upon? Am I allowed to choose between Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Noah Baumbach or a Nespresso? Attend a dressed-down press screening or get dolled up for the black tie gala? Oh, the choices! It’s times like these I wish I could be cloned.Read More
Thierry Frémaux is a cinema potentate. And that’s a great thing!
While most people at the top usually usurp their power for personal gain, the director of the Festival de Cannes uses his inimitable influence for the good of cinema. It’s a vision which may eventually — if filmmakers have their way — change the world. Thanks to ones like Amos Gitai, Chloé Zhao and Bong Joon-ho to cite a few whose latest oeuvres I’ve watched these past 24 hours — change the world for the better.
On a personal note, watching Frémaux’s elegant and welcoming presence at the top of the red carpet staircase before each of the official screenings has been a breath of style air, in a world that’s increasingly forgetting the power of modesty and class.Read More