[img_assist|nid=324|title=63rd Festival de Cannes|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=620|height=465]
The 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival closed today with Thai film UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES winning the coveted P’alm d’Or. The film, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, was received warmly by critics and audiences alike. Apichatpong, or “Joe” as he is also referred as, almost didn’t make it to France because of the current political turmoil in his native Thailand. Indiewire has a full list of winners and their reactions.
Overall, it was a decent festival, with some good selections in the official selections. I felt the Un Certain Regard sidebar was the best, presenting some very interesting works from emerging filmmakers. My personal favorite from this sidebar was CARANCHO directed by Pablo Trapero. Set in Argentina, the film is an unlikely love story between Sosa, an ambulance chaser, and Luján, a young doctor. Derek Cianfrance’s BLUE VALENTINE, which world premiered at Sundance, stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, as a couple experiencing the deterioration of their relationship.
Mike Leigh’s ANOTHER YEAR and Stephen Frears’ TAMARA DREWE represented the strength of British cinema this year, and both of these titles will, thankfully, be released in the States during the Fall/Winter awards season. On the other hand, the emerging themes of videogames and virtual reality was presented in three titles this year, with very mixed results. R U THERE, a Dutch/Taiwan co-production about a Dutch competitive gamer who loses his way and tries to connect with another human being, in the form of a Betelnut girl was slow and asinine at times, and J-horror maestro (he of RINGU fame) Hideo Nakata’s UK based film CHATROOM, was outdated, as if I was watching a film about the Internet from the early 90s.
Korean cinema was strongly represented with three titles — Im Sang-soo’s “reimagining” of THE HOUSEMAID starring the best actress from Korea, the daring, innocent and very sexy Jeon Do-yeon (SECRET SUNSHINE). It was gorgeously shot and the sexual mind games entwined with the class system was a sight to see. First time director Jang Cheol-soo’s BEDEVILLED, in the Semaine de la Critique (Critic’s Week section), was a film I had very little expectations about the lone woman on a remote island that is constantly abused by the village elders and her abusive husband. It turned out to be a classic “woman revenge” thriller, where the last 45 minutes is bloody curdling genre was oddly a much needed release from the abuse she took on screen. Finally, enfant terrible, Hong Sang-soo’s HAHAHA, continues his examination on pretentious and horny male intelligentsia, was agreeable enough for the film to win the Grand Prize in this section.
This year’s edition was light on the usual Hollywood glitz and glamour of past editions — aside from the Opening Night film, ROBIN HOOD, bringing the likes of Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchette to the Croisette, Hollywood fare was almost non-existent, leaving room for selections from European auteurs and emerging filmmakers. Screenings were easier to get into and there were definitely less parties. The penny pinching atmosphere was very apparent this year, as the Festival fully felt the film industry credit crunch.
And still, the ubiquitous things about Cannes still existed. There were still glamorous parties, the big AmFar AIDS fundraiser hosted by Harvey Weinstein, day clubs full of exotic and beautiful people, and over-priced French food. Imagine the Croisette, the main street in Cannes that borders the coast, as Kalakaua Ave. and Cannes itself as an amalgam of Waikiki and Miami’s South Beach. It’s a good model for a film festival. Pusan Film Festival, in October, takes place in a similar environment, Haeundae Beach, in the bustling southern port town.
For twelve days, Cannes becomes the center of the film universe, and it is a great way to meet up with film sellers, filmmakers, buyers, from all over the world. I’ve got my long laundry list of films I want to show for the upcoming 30th HIFF. It will be a long, arduous process in trying to secure my A list of films and find films that fit with planned sidebars and new partnerships that will make this upcoming HIFF truly special. Capturing that glint of Cannes is always a good thing, as we move forward through the summer to program an eclectic and interesting program for our film hungry audiences.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And what we do well at HIFF, we’ll continue to do. But, we’ve got some interesting and new things coming up. Hopefully, they’ll all work as we look onward for the next 30 years.