At Cannes Film Festival, Roman Polanski blames computers for journalists’ idiocy
“I believe this is a unique, a truly rare occasion, to have such a group of important film directors seated [together] … and to have such incredibly poor questions [from the press]!” complained Roman Polanski at the press conference that followed a screening of the omnibus feature To Each His Own Cinema / Chacun son cinéma, which was envisioned as a celebration of the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th anniversary. “… I truly believe that it’s the computer that has brought you down to this level.” After his outburst, Polanski got up and said, “Now, really, let’s go eat!”
Roman Polanski, Alain Delon at the Cannes Film Festival
Roman Polanski is a Cannes Film Festival veteran. In 2002, Polanski took home the Palme d’Or for the World War II drama The Pianist, which went on to earn him the Best Director Academy Award as well, and a Best Actor Oscar for Adrien Brody. And back in 1976, The Tenant was in the running for the Palme d’Or. Polanski’s other Best Director Academy Award nominations were for Chinatown (1974) and Tess (1980).
Alain Delon, for his part, has never won an award at the Cannes Film Festival – and has never been nominated for an Academy Award either. However, Delon has starred in major movies screened at the festival, e.g., Luchino Visconti’s 1963 Palme d’Or winner The Leopard, a sociopolitical family drama co-starring Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale; Joseph Losey’s cryptic 1976 Palme d’Or contender Mr. Klein, also featuring Jeanne Moreau; and Jean-Luc Godard’s Palme d’Or-contending drama Nouvelle Vague in 1990.
Roman Polanski quotes via the Tribune de Genève. Photo of Alain Delon and Bianca di Sofia at the To Each His Own Cinema Cannes Film Festival screening at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès: Pascal Le Segretain. Bianca di Sofia’s dress credit: Fabrizio Capriata.
Liam Lacey’s “Cranky Polanski a centre of attention” at the Toronto Globe and Mail:
“[Roman] Polanski’s tantrum [in reaction to journalists asking stupid questions] was the big awkward moment at an event [a q&a with about thirty directors who contributed to the omnibus film Chacun son cinéma / To Each His Own Cinema] that was otherwise a graceful tribute to international cinema. Among the participants were Abbas Kiarostami, Wong Kar-wai, Guellermo [sic] Del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Canada’s David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan. The decline in collective cinema was a recurrent theme, as dilapidated old theatres from Brazil to China often accompanied small dramas about loss and memory.”
Via Deutsche Welle:
“No, I took a train across the Atlantic.”
That’s Leonardo DiCaprio answering one of those brilliant questions that certain kinds of journalists like to ask the rich and famous who dare voice their opinions — from a progressive point of view — about serious matters. (More on DiCaprio, The 11th Hour, and the environment can be found in The Guardian.)
In this particular case, the question was if DiCaprio, who has been using his fame and money to promote environmental awareness, “had taken a fuel-guzzling flight on his way to the French Rivieria [sic].”
Where was Roman Polanski when you most needed him?
Thomas Sotinelon funereal films in Le Monde:
“Maybe it’s age, but I spend my life at funerals. At least in Cannes, whenever I go watch a film. If this trend toward the funereal film (two ceremonies alone in Fatih Akin’s Auf der anderen Seite / The Edge of Heaven, this morning) catches on, one could easily imagine the Festival exchanging l’Oréal for la maison Borniol [“the supermarket of death”; check out the lyrics to the song] as a sponsor. There have been cremations, inhumations, and ceremonies to mourn a disappearance. Plus two abortions.
“This morning, Hanna Schygulla, who stars in Fatih Akin’s film, said that thinking of death makes one more alive.”
Wendy Ide in The [London] Times Online:
“The Pope’s Toilet [El Baño del papa by Enrique Fernandez and César Charlone] is set in 1988, in Melo, a small Uruguayan town on the border with Brazil. The economy depends on the smuggling of consumer goods precariously balanced on bicycles. But when it is announced that the Pope is due to visit the town, bringing with him an estimated 50,000 devotees, the community scents the chance of a windfall. Some make mountains of sweet pastries to sell to the hungry hordes. But Beto decides to build a public toilet next door to the modest shack he shares with his long-suffering wife and daughter.
“Again real life intervenes, but The Pope’s Toilet‘s appeal is that it allows its desperate community a glimpse of optimism. The audience loved it.”
At GreenCine Daily, David Hudson quotes Richard and Mary Corliss referring to Sergio G Sanchez’s El Orfanato / The Orphanage:
“[O]nce in a while, a film that’s not on our liturgical calendar gains a must-see reputation. … It’s as if we learned that a cup of café au lait at some backwater dive was the Holy Grail. Gotta have a sip from that.”
Olivier Seguret discussesCarmen Castillo’s (above) 2h40m autobiographical-political documentary Calle Santa Fe / Santa Fe Street (screened in the Un Certain Regard sidebar) in Libération. Now, make sure to ignore the “Chile idiot tears” heading; the original reads “Chili con larmes” — the “con” is Spanish for “with,” but Google provided a quite polite translation of the French word for “asshole”):
“She used to be a historian, but it’s that very history, the big one, the tragic one, that turned her into a filmmaker, more specifically a documentarian — even though it would take her more than thirty years to muster the strength to film the closest and most painful of histories: her own. Thus, Carmen Castillo returned to Chile, the country that witnessed her birth and that failed to see her die on Oct. 5, 1974, on Santa Fe Street, which crosses a popular Santiago district. She was pregnant, fell into a coma, lost all her blood. When she woke up, at the hospital, the child she had carried was dead and so was the father: Miguel Enriquez, head of the recently formed clandestine resistance to Pinochet’s dictatorship …”
Angela Doland interviews Persepolis co-director Marjane Satrapi (right) for The Associated Press. Via the Kansas City Star:
“’What we wanted to say is, if these people [Iranians, Muslims] scare you, look closer: They have parents, they have lovers, they have hope, they have stories,’ Marjane Satrapi told The Associated Press in an interview at a Cannes beach cafe.
“Satrapi added: ‘The only real divide in this world is between the idiots and non-idiots.’”
Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis, one of the 22 films in the 2007 Cannes Film Festival’ Official Competition line-up, is based on Satrapi’s own experiences while growing up in Iran in the 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the voices heard in the French-language version of the animated tale belong to Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Chiara Mastroianni (as Satrapi), Deneuve’s daughter with Marcello Mastroianni.
Didier Peron reviews Persepolis in Libération:
“Atypical. Shot almost entirely in black and white – thus transferring for the screen the elegant simplicity of Satrapi’s pencil – Persepolis puts forward a new genre in the increasingly rich world of animated films; a quite atypical genre, for a young girl’s childish games co-exist with apparitions by Marx, and puberty issues with the executions of political opponents. More than halfway into the festival, Persepolis could well become the sleeper hit that will catch the eye of the jury.”
It may already have caught the misty eye of jury president Stephen Frears. In his Le Monde blog, Thomas Sotinel says he overheard two young women tell Marjane Satrapi that “Stephen Frears was in tears when the lights went on, and he applauded [the film] for 25 minutes.”
(Sotinel contextualizes things by saying that Carlos Reygadas’ Stellet Licht was also applauded for about 15 minutes – though he doesn’t say if Frears and his fellow jury members were crying or not while clapping hands. Sotinel’s quirky Cannes blog, by the way, is a must read.)
Needless to say, the Iranian government is doing its best to ensure that Persepolis wins the Palme d’Or. According to Peron’s article, in a letter to the cultural attaché at the French embassy in Teheran an organization with ties to Iran’s Ministry of Culture called Satrapi and Paronnaud’s effort “a film about Iran that presents a false portrait of the consequences and successes of the Islamic Revolution.” Better yet, it accused the Cannes Festival of committing a “political – perhaps even anti-cultural – act.”
With that sort of promotion, Persepolis could indeed become the next Fahrenheit 9/11.
A few Cannes review snippets
Yannick Vély reviews Béla Tarr’s The Man from London at Film de Culte:
“Béla Tarr’s The Man from London was a sensation. From its sumptuous initial sequence, the Hungarian director attempts to put the viewer under hypnosis.”
“The almost unbearably poignant memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who found himself immobilized by ‘locked-in syndrome’ after a stroke, becomes a ready-made canvas for the painterly indulgences of Julian Schnabel in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
“Sicko offers more focus than Fahrenheit 9/11 and is a damning attack on the relationship between private health insurance and medical care in the United States. If that doesn’t sound like an entertaining prospect for a movie then Moore does everything in his power over two hours, from gags to stunts to hysteria, to convince you otherwise. It’s a powerful film and one that’s also unexpectedly moving.”
Student Academy Award – 2007 Winners
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the list of winners of the 34th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. They are (listed alphabetically by film title within category):
Fission, Kun-I Chang, School of Visual Arts, New York
Art’s Desire, Sarah Wickliffe, New York University
A Leg Up, Bevin Carnes, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Mirage, Youngwoong Jang, School of Visual Arts, New York
Cross Your Eyes Keep Them Wide (top), Ben Wu, Stanford University
Ladies of the Land, Megan Thompson, New York University
Lumo (right), Bent-Jorgen S. Perlmutt and Nelson Walker, III, Columbia University
High Maintenance, Phillip Van, New York University
Rundown, Patrick Alexander, Florida State University
Screening, Anthony Green, New York University
Honorary Foreign Film
Nevermore, Toke Constantin Hebbeln, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
The winners will take part in a week of industry-related activities and social events, culminating in the awards ceremony on June 9 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The U.S. winners will each receive an award, though the level of that award — Gold, Silver or Bronze — within each category will not be revealed until the June 9 ceremony. Gold Medal recipients will receive $5,000, Silver Medal recipients $3,000, and Bronze Medal recipients $2,000. The Honorary Foreign Film winner will receive $1,000.
Nevermore, the Honorary Foreign Film winner was selected from a record pool of 49 submissions from 33 countries.
According to the Academy’s press release, “the Student Academy Awards were established by the Academy in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level.” Among past winners who have gone on to prominent film careers are John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, and Trey Parker.
To date, former Student Academy Award winners have received a total of 35 Oscar nominations and have won or shared seven awards.
Tickets for the 34th Student Academy Awards presentation ceremony, at which the Gold Medal-winning films will be screened in their entirety along with the Honorary Foreign Film, are free and available now. To request a maximum of four tickets, call the Academy at (310) 247-3000, ext. 130. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 9, at 6 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Brontë sisters revisit
Cannes news via the London Sunday Times:
Cannes news via the London Sunday Times Part II:
American actresses Michelle Williams, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Evan Rachel Wood are supposed to star in a film version of the lives of the British Bronte sisters, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne. Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino, and Nancy Coleman played the three sisters in the 1946 Warner Bros. film Devotion.
Cannes news via the London Sunday Times Part III:
“The fact that there are no British films here is of no significance at all. Does the British government support film? Clearly not enough.
“I believe the new tax arrangements are now in place so I imagine that will now make life easier, better. It’s very difficult for British film-makers and anything that makes their life easier is good.”
That’s Stephen Frears, president of the official competition jury, remarking on the ties that don’t bind the British government to British films.
Cannes and religion
Via 7 Days:
“Iran has protested to France over the screening at Cannes of an animated film about a woman growing up in revolutionary Iran, slamming the movie as a ‘political act,’ local media reported. Persepolis, which stems from a best-selling comic book series by Iranian emigre Marjane Satrapi [right], shows its heroine struggling with the authorities in the early days of the Islamic revolution.
“The Cannes film festival has selected a film about Iran which presents an unreal picture of the outcomes and achievements of the Islamic revolution,’ said a letter to the French cultural attache in Tehran. The film, to be premiered in Cannes tomorrow, shows Satrapi’s rebellious eight-year-old screen persona watching the downfall of the shah followed by the imposition of Islamic law after the 1979 revolution. She witnesses the horrors of the war with Iraq, leaves for Austria but quickly feels the solitude of an exile.’ ”
Marjane Satrapi q&a in Le Monde.
More on deranged religiosity in Stephanie Bunbury’s “Madness in the carnival of celluloid” at The Age:
“You remember, even in Cannes, that cinema is a serious business when you encounter the Makhmalbaf family. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a moving force in the flowering of the Iranian cinema and director of Kandahar, now lives in exile since his own government made him persona non grata. Samira, his 30-year-old daughter and director of Blackboards and Five in the Afternoon, has chosen to stay there. Which may be why her most recent film set was bombed.”
Asra Nomani’s “Danny Pearl, the Hollywood version” at The Guardian:
“Bigger picture, I hope audiences will walk away from the [Michael Winterbottom] film [A Mighty Heart] with an important message: the story doesn’t end with this film. I hope viewers will understand that we’re still navigating through the confusing labyrinth of Danny’s kidnapping and murder trying to understand what really happened. The mystery is still not solved.”
Justin Chang on A Mighty Heart in Variety:
“The sad saga of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl has made it to the bigscreen with facts, figures and beating heart intact in A Mighty Heart. In his first studio venture, Michael Winterbottom [right] coaxes forth a staggering wealth of detail from this terse, methodical account of Pearl’s kidnapping and murder in Pakistan, seen through the eyes of those who sought his return.”
Via Le Monde:
“David Cronenberg decided to name his [three-minute] film [for the omnibus film Chacun son cinéma / To Each His Own Cinema] At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World. “I don’t know why I decided at that moment to discuss the fact that I’m Jewish,” explains the Canadian director. “It’s very mysterious. Maybe because it’s the Fundamentalist Muslims who are currently distributing snuff films.”
Patrick Walsh in Cinematical:
“You would think after the enormous critical and commercial success of that film [Borat], the guy [director Larry Charles] would have no problem setting up another project. Unless that project is a sure-to-be controversial flick about “the role of institutional religion around the world.’ Charles showed a ten-minute promotional reel of his new film to around 200 buyers at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, and it already has people speculating that it will cause an uproar.”
Angelina Jolie & ‘The Mighty Heart’
“Jolie, whose forceful, immediate performance as Mariane Pearl is the heart of [Michael] Winterbottom’s taut, involving film, is seated on the nearly deserted terrace of the Hotel du Cap, displaying the same level-headed focus and intelligence that enables her to survive the Cannes madness without a glove being laid on her.
“Jolie’s friendship with Pearl, as it turns out, considerably predates the film. ‘Like most people in the world, I assumed Danny would be returned,’ she remembers of Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and execution in Pakistan. ‘When he wasn’t, I was moved by Mariane’s strength, I was shocked by it. To be able to speak about her love for that country, her thoughts about the other Pakistani men who lost their lives in the same period, I didn’t know where that came from. I didn’t think I could have done it.’ ”