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Thumbnails Special Edition: Cannes 2019

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety. This special edition of Thumbnails spotlights coverage of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The photo of Roger seen above headlined the critic's conversation about Cannes with The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy in 2012.—The Editors


"The Cannes Film Festival—With Roger Ebert As Your Tour Guide": The Wall Street Journal's Rico Gagliano reflects on the late critic's "timeless itinerary." 

“The most evocative travelogue I’ve ever read was written by a guy who spent much of his life sitting very still in dark rooms. The man was the late film critic Roger Ebert. The book is Two Weeks in the Midday Sun, a catalog of his adventures at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Though he makes plenty of pit stops to interview movie stars, it’s ultimately a love letter to the city of Cannes, and the movie gala that made it famous. ‘I have always felt a little out of place at these glamorous international events,’ Ebert humbly claims on page five. It’s the only sentence in the book that rings false. The critic attended Cannes religiously for decades, and ‘Midday Sun’ is clearly the work of a man in his element— equally content speeding along the French Riviera on a movie mogul’s yacht, or sipping coffee under a cafe awning in a Gallic rainstorm. Ebert guides us warmly through a world he knows well, embracing joys of any brow: high, low or middle. Now, three decades later, does Cannes still yield those joys? To find out, last May I attended the festival for the first time. Instead of a guide book, I packed my copy of ‘Midday Sun.’”


"In Memory of Roger Ebert—10 Years at Cannes, 10 Books to Giveaway": Alex Billington of explains why he has chosen to give away ten copies of Two Weeks in the Midday Sun.

“It's kind of eerie how his writing perfectly captures the experience of being here. How much it sounds like he's sitting right next to me reading this aloud today, talking about what he's about to go see this year. It's also eerie how much is the exact same, how much the festival operates similarly to what he experienced there 32 years ago. But I guess that's part of the magic. That's exactly what makes Cannes such a unique, unforgettable, extraordinary place. That's part of why it has such an iconic legacy, why there's so much history here. And why it still has the most film critics in the entire world attending every year, no matter the line-up, no matter the changes they make. It's Cannes! It's the South of France! It's cinema heaven! And there's nowhere I'd rather be. And I feel truly lucky and honored to be in the same place where Roger Ebert used to return to year after year, sit in the same screening rooms he used to frequent. And hopefully, if we're lucky as well, we'll have that "spine-tingling" experience when a film leaves us floored. Only time will tell…”


"Chicago Program Gives High School Girls Lessons in Documentary Filmmaking": Variety's Tom McLean reports from Cannes about the DePaul/CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) Documentary Filmmaking Program.

“The program’s founders know that access to moviemaking and equipment — and the chance to put them into action — can be a life-changing experience. Just ask Zana Carter, who a few summers ago was a high school student with a love of writing and the films of Spike Lee and a desire to see more stories on screen that reflected her life as a resident of Chicago public housing. ‘Those things drove me into filmmaking,’ says Carter. ‘Being part of an African American community with stories not being shared that should be acknowledged’ was important. Carter helped make the bullying documentary ‘What If I Told You’ as part of the DePaul/CHA program. She’s now a junior at DePaul studying filmmaking, with a focus on cinematography. That kind of outcome is what earned the program the support of Chaz Ebert, widow of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who sponsors a premiere night for the films and seeks post-program opportunities both for the shorts and for the students. ‘The girls in the DePaul/CHA program have voices and viewpoints that you don’t see or hear a lot of in the larger film community,’ says Ebert, a Housing Authority resident in her youth. ‘I think these are voices that are very important.’”


"Calm Down, Everyone, 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' WILL Premiere at Cannes": Assures Pajiba's Kayleigh Donaldson. 

“Never fear, film journalists who only worry about the Hollywood releases at European festivals, for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ will premiere in competition for the Palme. It was rumored that festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux was holding out for Tarantino to have completed a cut of the film in time for May. It’s not unusual for such things to happen. Wong Kar-wai’s 2046 was entered into competition in 2003 despite not being finished, and as Roger Ebert reported, it ‘arrived at the last minute at Cannes 2003, after missing its earlier screenings; the final reel reportedly arrived at the airport almost as the first was being shown.’ In 2017, Lynne Ramsay submitted ‘You Were Never Really Here about a day after she’d finished her initial edit and admitted it still wasn’t finished (she still won two prizes that year). Tarantino’s film is expected to screen on May 21st, the 25th anniversary of ‘Pulp Fiction’’s premiere.”


"Cannes 2019: Mati Diop 'a little sad' to make history." As reported by BBC's Paul Glynn. Skip to the 33:53 mark of the "Atlantics" press conference to hear publisher Chaz Ebert's question for Diop, followed by the filmmaker's extraordinary response. 

“French-Senegalese Mati Diop made history on Thursday when ‘Atlantics’ became the first film made by a woman of African descent to be screened in the festival's 72 year history. Diop said she was ‘moved’ but also ‘a little sad’ at the achievement. ‘It's pretty late and it's incredible that it is still relevant,’ she said. ‘My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019. I knew it as I obviously don't know any black women who came here before. I knew it but it's always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.’ She added: ‘As a black woman I really missed black figures and black characters. It's why I needed to make this film, I needed to see black people on screen - it was an urgent need.’”

Image of the Day

Illustration by Krishna Shenoi.

On the latest episode of his essential TalkEasy podcast, Sam Fragoso chats with one of the greatest living filmmakers, Werner Herzog, whose latest picture, "Family Romance, LLC," is premiering in Cannes. Click here to listen to their full conversation.

Video of the Day

Skip to the 20:15 mark in this English-language recording of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival jury press conference, and you'll hear publisher Chaz Ebert's question for jury president and two-time Best Director Oscar-winner Alejandro González Iñárritu. His answer is a stirring one. 

Classic Video of the Day

For an entertaining trip into Cannes' past, check out Billy Baxter's 51-minute documentary, "Diary of the Cannes Film Festival with Rex Reed," from 1980. You can also read memories shared by Billy's son, Jack, published on our site in 2015.

Matt Fagerholm

Matt Fagerholm is the Literary Editor at and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. 

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