A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.
Here is Chaz Ebert's second video dispatch from the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, followed by a transcript of the video...
(On Chaz as she holds up a phone recording her) This year, I wanted to do all my video reports as selfies.
(Security guard walks over): NON, Madame! Non, sil vout plait.
(Back to Chaz on regular camera): But this year….selfies have been explicitly banned.
In fact, festival director Thierry Fremaux held a meeting with the press before the festival even began to discuss some of the changes this year, including the selfie ban and the new schedule which won’t allow the press to see any of the competition films prior to their red-carpet premier. In addition, he paid tribute to Pierre Rissient, who passed away this week at the age of 81 as he was preparing to travel to the festival to represent Korean director Lee Chang Dong’s film Burning which is in competition. Pierre was a fixture each year in Cannes as well as at festivals around the world. He was a cinephile, film historian director’s representative and a director. His 1982 film “Five And The Skin” is screening in Cannes Classic this week. Roger called him the International Man of Mystery and said he probably knew and introduced more directors, actors, distributors, exhibitors and critics than any other single person in the film industry. And Pierre was also quite a colorful character, once he started a feud that ended with Director Steve James challenging him to a duel. You can read more of Roger’s thoughts about Pierre in the link below on RogerEbert.com.
The following evening, it was time to open the festival ceremonies in grand style.
This year’s jury, led by Cate Blanchett, looked great on their walk to the Palais. And Cate not only looked great, but she also made a statement as she wore the same dress on the red carpet this year as she did to the 2014 Golden Globes. The jury president was looking to make a point that our society has become too disposable, and there is no reason to crowd our landfills with perfectly good clothing. Especially something as beautiful as that dress!
And while some have said that perhaps the red carpet has become passé in the era of MeToo and TimesUp, Cate had a different take:
Martin Scorsese was in attendance as he received the prestigious Golden Coach Award from the French Directors Guild. And he helped Cate Blanchett formally open the festival. But the true stunner of the evening was Burundian singer/songwriter Khadja Nin. Her dress was absolutely beautiful and she made an entrance worthy of royalty.
After the ceremony, it was time to screen the Festival opening film: "Everybody Knows," playing out-of-competiton from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. The film is completely set in Spain, outside of Madrid. And I asked Farhadi how he was able to make a picture in a land foreign to him and a in a language he didn’t speak.
The film revolves around a wedding in Penelope Cruz’s family, and the kidnapping of one of the family members. As the ordeal wears on, friends and family members don’t know who they can trust or who they can rely on.
Farhadi does a remarkable job navigating a large cast through some tense and sensitive subject matter. And while under a less talented director, this could have crossed the line into over-the-top melodrama. Here Farhardi, Cruz, and Bardem make sure that doesn’t happen. While it’s not quite as good as Farhadi’s Oscar-winning "A Separation," it’s hard to improve on perfection.
Directly after the screening, Focus Features picked up U.S. distribution rights to the film.
While the opening night film was deemed a success by most, the closing night film has been under a shroud of controversy. A lawsuit had been filed against Terry Gilliam’s long awaited film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” starring Adam Driver and Johnathan Pryce. The lawsuit, filed by a former producer on the film, Paolo Branco, attempted to halt the screening. And the lawsuit may or may not have led to Gilliam being hospitalized briefly over the weekend. However, on day two of the Festival, the French courts decided that the screening could move forward. So we’ll be able to see Gilliam’s visionary tale close out this year’s Cannes.
The parallel Un Certain Regard section also opened, and the Kenyan film "Rafiki" from director Wanuri Kahiu was one of the first films screened. It’s a story of two young girls in Nairobi who fall for each other, despite the enormous pressures of society trying to keep them apart. In fact, homosexuality is still such a taboo in Kenya that a person can be imprisoned for up to 14 years. And this film can not be screened in its home country. Despite that, it’s a very well crafted, and touching tale with wonderfully sophisticated performances from the film’s two inexperienced lead actresses. And the music in the film is some of the best I’ve heard in a film recently.
The competition for the Palme d’Or begins in earnest shortly. And we’ll fill you in with everything you need to know to follow what’s happening here in Cannes. In the meantime, check back frequently at RogerEbert.com-slash-Cannes for our written reports from Barbara Scharres, Ben Kenigsberg and our other correspondents as well as our frequent video reports .
Until next time, remember….NO SELFIES! Au revoir!
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