Comedy will dominate the opening of the Cannes film festival on Wednesday, with Wes Anderson’s child fantasy “Moonrise Kingdom” in a tussle with Sacha Baron Cohen’s anarchic alter ego General Aladeen for the attention of the world’s media.
Thousands of journalists and movie executives are in the glamorous Riviera resort for 12 hectic days of screenings, red carpets, parties and dealmaking, and the first day is typical of the diary clashes they face.
Anderson’s film, starring Bruce Willis and Bill Murray, is the official opening entry in the main competition, ensuring a splashy launch with a press screening, news briefing, interviews and red carpet gala premiere on Wednesday evening.
Yet just a short stroll away along the famous palm-lined Croisette waterfront, Baron Cohen will also be muscling in on the action with a press conference of his own at the Carlton Hotel to promote his latest picture “The Dictator.” Judging by his outrageous sense of humor and eye for the theatrical, the British comic may steal much of the limelight as he adopts the character of Aladeen, a cruel North African dictator partly inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.
Amid the pranks and late night parties, however, there is plenty of hard work to be done, with a giant marketplace showcasing hundreds of films and hoping to defy the economic gloom across much of Europe with a spate of sales.
“The economic situation in Europe is not great, but does it mean that we have to forget the dream?” said Thierry Fremaux, general delegate of the festival. “The [economic] crisis is not the crisis of this year,” he told Reuters. “It has been five years that we are in crisis here in Europe,” he added, speaking in English. “But we have to manage a way to give the people dreams and to say that even in the 1930s after the big crisis, cinema was in very good shape.”
Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman are among established Hollywood names expected to grace the red carpet, where they will be joined by a long list of rising stars hoping to make their mark.
Cannes, as the world’s biggest and most glamorous film festival, is an ideal platform for a movie and its cast. Silent hit “The Artist,” which went on to sweep the Oscars, launched here last year.
But notoriously picky critics can also make life awkward for directors and actors, as with the 2006 world premiere of “The Da Vinci Code” which received poor reviews. While grumpy cinephiles are an integral part of Cannes, organizers will be keen to avoid a repeat of last year when maverick director Lars Von Trier was controversially expelled for making jokes about Nazis at a press conference.
This year, the festival has come under fire for not including a single female director in its main competition lineup after four were selected in 2011. It has defended its decision, saying it would not impose a “quota policy.”
Despite the row, media reaction to this year’s lineup has been generally positive. In the main competition of 22 films, Brazilian director Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” has generated plenty of buzz, not least because “Twilight” actress Kristen Stewart takes on a leading role. Best known as Bella Swan from the vampire blockbusters, the 22-year-old American will be joined on the sun-kissed French Riviera by Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. The British actor appears in another competition movie, “Cosmopolis,” directed by Canada’s David Cronenberg, a topical tale of corporate greed that follows a successful New York financier whose world disintegrates around him.
John Hillcoat’s movie “Lawless,” a Depression-era gangster tale, features Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska among others, underlining the importance of fresh acting talent at this year’s festival.
Previous winners of the coveted Palme d’Or prize for best film who are in contention again are Austria’s Michael Haneke with “Amour” (Love), Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami (“Like Someone In Love”), Briton Ken Loach (“The Angels’ Share”) and Romanian Cristian Mungiu (“Beyond the Hills”).
Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey and Kidman all star in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” and Pitt appears in Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly.”
Hot topics on the big screen include the Arab uprisings, with Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah’s “After the Battle” in competition, and the pitfalls of celebrity culture in “Antiviral,” the debut feature from Cronenberg’s son Brandon.
Ceylan to be honored by French directors at Cannes
Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan will receive an accolade from French filmmakers this week on the sidelines of this year’s 65th Cannes Film Festival.
The French Society of Film Directors (SRF) will present Ceylan with the prestigious Carrosse d’Or (Golden Coach) prize on May 17, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.
Ceylan, a regular at Cannes, will present his film “Mayıs Sıkıntısı” (Clouds of May) before Thursday’s award ceremony. Ceylan has won a prize every time he has hit the French Riviera with one of his films in competition starting with his third feature, “Uzak,” which received the Grand Prix and the prize for best actor in 2003; his 2006 feature “İklimler” (Climates) won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award, his 2008 drama “Üç Maymun” (Three Monkeys) won him the prestigious best director award and his critically acclaimed 2011 effort, “Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da” (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) shared the Grand Prix with “The Kid with a Bike” by the Dardenne brothers. Ceylan also served as a member of the jury for the main competition during the 2009 festival.
The Carrosse d’Or, launched in 2002, each year recognizes a director from the international filmmaking community for the innovative qualities, courage and independent-mindedness of his or her work. Previous recipients of the prize include Clint Eastwood, Nanni Moretti, David Cronenberg, Jim Jarmusch and Jafar Panahi.
The 65th Cannes Film Festival will take place on May 16-27. Turkish-German director Fatih Akın’s newest documentary feature, “Polluting Paradise,” will be screened as part of the festival on May 18. A Turkish short film titled “Sessiz” (Silent) and directed by Rezan Yeşilbaş is running in the festival’s short film competition. İstanbul Today’s Zaman with wires
Films to look out for at 65th Cannes festival
The 2012 Cannes film festival opens on Wednesday with Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and ends on May 27. Hundreds of movies will be showcased at the annual event held in the glamorous French Riviera resort, where stars walk the red carpet and work the party circuit in the full glare of the media spotlight. Following is a list of pictures in Cannes which have generated buzz in the runup to the world’s biggest film festival.
“After the Battle” (Baad El Mawkeaa) - Egypt’s recent revolution makes it to the big screen in Yousry Nasrallah’s story of two people on opposite sides of the uprising.
“Cosmopolis” - “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson will ensure hundreds of screaming fans turn up in Cannes to catch a glimpse of him on the famous red carpet. In David Cronenberg’s movie he plays Eric Packer, a high-flying New York financier who sees his life crumble around him as the end of capitalism dawns.
“Killing Them Softly” - New Zealand-born Andrew Dominik reunites with Brad Pitt after the two collaborated on “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Pitt plays Mob enforcer Jackie Cogan, who is called in to track down a group of petty thieves who raid a poker game.
“Lawless” - Described as an “epic gangster tale,” Lawless is a retelling of the true story of the Bondurant Brothers, who strove for the “American Dream” by bootlegging in prohibition-era Virginia. John Hillcoat directs a cast including Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain.
“Moonrise Kingdom” - Directed by Anderson, it is the opening film this year and also in the main competition vying for awards including the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture. The movie stars Bruce Willis and Bill Murray, and Anderson describes it as a comedy about two children who run away from the world of adults to live out their fantasy.
“On the Road” - Jack Kerouac’s 1950s novel “On the Road” is adapted for the movies by Brazilian director Walter Salles. Adding to the buzz is a cast including “Twilight” actress Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.
“Reality” - Matteo Garrone directed the acclaimed “Gomorrah” about Italy’s modern-day crime families. In Reality, he turns his attention to the allure of reality TV and instant fame through the eyes of Neapolitan fishmonger Luciano.
“Rust and Bone” (De Rouille et d’Os) - French director Jacques Audiard wowed festival audiences with his gripping prison drama “A Prophet”, and he is back in competition with a movie starring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard.
“The Paperboy” - Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman star in this competition film about a man and his brother who seek to uncover the truth about a death row convict who might have been wrongfully convicted.
Out of competition
“Antiviral” - David’s son Brandon Cronenberg presents his debut feature, costing just $3.3 million to make. It follows an employee of a clinic selling injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans.
“Confession of a Child of the Century” - British rock star Pete Doherty plays Octave in this adaptation of an autobiographical 19th century novel by Alfred de Musset recalling his love affair with author George Sand.
“Hemingway and Gellhorn” - Philip Kaufman directs Nicole Kidman in a TV movie about the romance between author Ernest Hemingway and celebrated war correspondent Martha Gellhorn.
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” - Hollywood traditionally comes to Cannes with a big-budget blockbuster, and this year’s entry is the third instalment in the successful animation series, this time in 3D.
“Mystery” - Chinese director Lou Ye was banned from film making for five years for entering “Summer Palace” in the Cannes festival in 2006. Mystery tells the story of a young woman whose death may not have been the accident it at first appeared. Paris Reuters