Journal: Cannes Film Festival

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Cannes Film Festival

Day One Journal

The 64th annual Cannes Film Festival went underway today on this lovely Wednesday, 11 May 2011. The festivities will be held during the next twelve days and will conclude on Sunday, 22 May 2011. Like all previous Cannes Film Festival, this year marks a different one especially since legendary American film icon; Robert De Niro heads the panel of jurors for the feature films category of the competition. Not to be outdone, the Cinefondation and short films category competition has for its president famous filmmaker Michel Gondry. The Un Certain Regard and Camera d'or categories have Serbian director Emir Kusturica and South Korean director Boong Joon-ho as juror presidents, respectively.

The opening ceremony was hosted by Melanie Laurent, star of Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds. For someone who is a first-timer attending the festival, I cannot help but be star struck seeing all the famous celebrities walk through the red carpet during the gala opening. But not everything about the festival is just glamour and glitz since true to its form in paying honor to those who have made a difference in the film industry, "Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d'Or Award at the opening ceremony of the festival (BST News 2011)." For the opening feature film, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris made the mark and one cannot help but feel the "Allen-magic" while viewing this wonderful romantic-comedy set in France. During the opening ceremony, Lady Gaga did a spectacular impromptu performance at the waterfront. Her presence and performance would be unforgettable events in the history of the Cannes Film Festival.

Day Two Journal

The festival will not be as lively without the controversies that occur during the duration. On the second day of the festival, everyone is still abuzz with the controversy that happened during the opening ceremony when Danish film director, Lars Von Trier was declared persona non grata due to some "politically incorrect" comments he made. During yesterday's press conference regarding his feature film entry Melancholia, "he was asked about the relation between the influences of German Romanticism in the film and his own German heritage, the director made jokes about Jews and Nazis. He said he understood Adolf Hitler and admired the work of architect Albert Speer, and jokingly announced that he was a Nazi. (BST News 2011)" His tactless comments did not sit well with a lot of people and he was thence ejected whilst the festival committee had to issue an apology for the director's uncouth behavior.

Despite being banned from the festival, Von Trier's dramatic science fiction film was not taken out of the feature film competition. Melancholia is a story about "two sisters who are in conflict with each other while the life of the planet is threatened with a large foreign body approaching and on a collision course (Festival de Cannes 2011)." The film starred famous American actress Kirsten Dunst and there were talks that went around that she was a strong contender for the Prix d'interpretation feminine or the Best Actress award. Melancholia received mostly positive reviews during and after the filming and is slated for worldwide release during the middle to latter part of 2011.

Day Three Journal

Being a film student or professional does not mean concentrating only on the technical and artistic side of the industry. The business and financial sides are also critical because without money being invested, there won't be any films made and the industry will not grow. The festival does not offer only film viewings and "star gazing" but there are lectures and presentations as well from top notch professionals of the film industry. I was privileged to attend a presentation made by veteran executive producer, Rick Hess, who was executive producer of three early 2000s films: "Auto Focus (2002), Trapped (2002), and Southlander (2001) (New York Times 2011)." Hess is now an agent of Creative Arts Agency (CAA) and he talked about CAA's "co-ownership of Evolution Media Capital, a venture the agency formed a year ago with the core members of Merrill Lynch's media and sports structured-finance group (Fleming 2011)."

An unforgettable statement made by Hess during the presentation was when he said that, "Hollywood had a relationship with outside capital that was something less than positive and it made no sense. The guys at CAA agreed and said, 'Let's create a business where we actually have a fiduciary relationship with the investors.' (Fleming 2011)" This insight holds provides a lot to think about when it comes to dealing with investors and filmmakers. What Hess pointed out was that investors should not be looked upon by filmmakers as merely "financiers" but there should be a partnership built on trust and mutual acceptance of responsibilities. The idea becomes more relevant in today's world because of the need to ensure that there is corporate governance and corporate social responsibility inculcated in the business.

Day Four Journal

I decided to spend my fourth day at the festival viewing films since the gist of coming to Cannes is experiencing the varied offerings with regards to different film genres. I knew that I could easily watch the feature films presented during the competition so I opted to concentrate on those that might not be shown in the United States particularly the short films from other countries. Hence, I chose to watch the Korean film Ghost directed by Dahci Ma and Paternal Womb from Japan directed by Megumi Tazaki. "Ghost is a story about a man hiding out in an empty house. The man, who is chased by police, is caught up in a fantasy with extreme hunger and anxiety. However, what he faces at the end is the darkest side of himself. (Festival de Cannes 2011)" Although the film was only ten minutes long, it provided a view of urban decay that included crimes happening thereto. The film was able to present a surrealistic view of the decay of the city and how a man is haunted by these problems whilst inside an empty and foreboding house.

Paternal Womb is a fifteen-minute film about a young woman in search of the father who abandoned her and her mother whilst she was still young. Akari, the main character, searched for her father after her mother died and finally finding him, she saw that he had another family. The story though revolved around Akari and her half-brother, Kota, and their irresolute awkward journey knowing each other. The film portrays their bond over two days and nights with the minimalist drama techniques and placid camera work (Festival de Cannes 2011)." Between the two, I enjoyed the Korean short film because of the suspense incorporated in it and how unsettling scenes have been portrayed in a thrilling manner.

Day Five Journal

One of the truly admirable aspects of the Cannes Film Festival is the support it provides to aspiring and upcoming film professionals. The Cinefondation provides a venue for film students in presenting their short films at the festival. For this area, I went for the Latin American films with love as the theme of the films. Thus, I saw Duelo Antes da Noite (Duel Before Nightfall) by student-director Alice Furtado of the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil, and La fiesta de casamiente (The Wedding Party) by student-directors Gaston Margolin and Martin Morgenfeld of the Universidad del Cine in Argentina. If there one thing I can say about the two short films is that Latin Americans do know how to project love even in the few minutes of each of the films. The latter film from Brazil is about a "girl and a boy taking a long path that leads them to the point where their lives will change forever (Festival de Cannes 2011)" while the Argentinean film shows how a young couple spends time in a luxury hotel room during the wedding party.

The short film showing was scheduled during the morning and so I had the rest of the day to do other things. Instead of doing purely festival "stuff" I decided to take a tour of the city of Cannes and learn more about the culture, tradition and life of the place. Everywhere I go, the festival fever is high and people -- whether locals and visitors, where busy talking about the happenings at the festival. A welcome respite was when I had an early dinner at a cafe outside the city center and several young couples my age were talking not about Cannes but the economic problems being faced by Europeans. I then realized that it is not only in the United States that the problem is pervasive but in this part of the world as well.

Day Six Journal

After spending most of my fifth day "going native" in Cannes, it was back to doing my filmmaker's duties and take in more of what the festival is providing. I attended two special screenings for the day and was not disappointed with the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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