Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And so it begins...

The Cannes Film Festival officially kicked off today and another year of debates and mud slinging can start. The festival started with an uplifting film but a few recent articles have talked about the gore that is doing to be dished out in the coming days. Robert Koehler and David Hudson talk about this aspect and it seems even the NY Times jumped on this. Although I have some other issues with the NY times piece.

The opening paragraph contains words that appear lazy and thrown around just for the sake of it:

Every year Cannes appears, alluring and forbidding, a haunted palace that knows better than to open wide its doors, become democratic or user-friendly — leave that to the North Americans.

So breaking things down...


Yes, beautiful things are often seductive and charming.


well often beauty is forbidden or kept away from the masses. And likewise, the festival is only open for a select few. Nothing wrong with that.

a haunted palace that knows better than to open wide its doors

Huh? In terms of cinema, Cannes has had its door open wide for ages. So not sure what the complaint is about. And if it about the general public, yes the festival is restrictive, but that's how it is.

become democratic or user-friendly

No film festival is truly democratic! Every film festival consists of decisions executed by a few, often usually against the grain. The back room situations that exists in Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, Montreal and Sundance aren't very lovey-dovey either. In fact, no film festival would ever exist if each film was democratically selected.

And user-friendly? No film festival can ever be 100% user friendly. In fact, each user or audience member has to accommodate themselves to the festival's rhythm and only then can one have a true festival experience.

leave that to the North Americans

Honestly, what does North America have to do with Cannes? Moreover, this infers that North Americans and their festivals are open and democratic. Ha! In fact, at times one would be hard pressed to find international films playing in most locations across North America. If North Americans were so open, then wouldn't the powers that be pack their multiplexes with great cinema from around the world as opposed to shutting out the world's cinematic works? If America's Hollywood was so open, then why would it want to remake successful foreign films?

After a poorly prejudiced opening paragraph, I take further issue with these words:

Hired to rejuvenate Cannes, Mr. Frémaux does not have an easy time of it: with few American entries, and many old-timers with films ready to compete, the selection this year smacks of yet another family reunion — with a few surprises sprinkled in.

Let's see now..

with few American entries

Since when did Cannes have plenty of American entries? Indie American cinema targets the Sundance film festival while serious Hollywood films target TIFF and the fall line-up. Summer is saved for loud explosive Hollywood flicks. Unfortunately, in the last few years some of these loud movies made it to Cannes but thankfully that is not the case this time around.

and many old-timers with films ready to compete, the selection this year smacks of yet another family reunion — with a few surprises sprinkled in.

So, what's wrong with that? It is a fascinating prospect that this year some of the best names in the global film industry are going head to head against each other. On the other hand, did it occur to anyone that these director's works were worthy to be put there? Which films have been shut out from the competition so far? The only name that keeps coming up is Francis Ford Coppola. As per the NY Times piece,

This year, Francis Ford Coppola’s "Tetro" was rejected for competition at Cannes; rather than be relegated to Un Certain Regard, Mr. Coppola preferred to open the Fortnight.

Most people think that if something is not in the Competition, then it is an inferior film. But the truth is that some of the best artistic cinema can be found in Un Certain Regard. This difference between the artistic levels of films exists in other parts of the world as well. For example, excellent American films such Wendy and Lucy will never be nominated for the Academy Awards which appears to be reserved mostly for the big Hollywood films. So in a similar manner, the Un Certain Regard can be considered as an alternative category which may contain better quality works than the Competition. Ofcourse, the big difference is that the Competition gives out prizes which will certainly help boost a film's distribution chances.

I am sure more complaints will start filtering in as the festival goes on and I can already anticipate most film magazines and newspapers talk about how "substandard" Cannes was this year. Still, I look forward to seeing these films for myself to decide.

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