64 Festival de Cannes

 By Moira Sullivan

The 64th Cannes Film Festival ended last Sunday night with the awards ceremony. The Mistress of Ceremonies who both opened and closed the festival Mélanie Laurent who starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds brought out the official jury again to announce the winning films. Robert De Niro was "Mr Presidente" of a jury composed of writers, actors, directors and producers. Among them, Uma Thurman, Jude Law and the daughter of Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman  - Lin Ullmann

It was fun to hear De Niro call his jury companions - compagnons  - mushrooms (champignons) in French. Some years ago when Michael Moore won the Palme d’Or for Fahrenheit 9/11 there was some controversy over the jury decision headed by Quentin Tarantino. So the jury met with the press to discuss their choice.  This had never been done before. The jury process had always been private. The tradition has continued since then. 

This time it was regarding why The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick won the Palme d’Or. And as it turns out, according to De Niro, the film had "the size, and importance".  I wonder about the size part, because it reads like industry-produced films. 

The Tree of Life was "big" and more about that in my review of the movie in this week's show.  Lars Von Trier’s film Melancholia was a strong contender, a leaner film, but certainly more realistic and not riddled with religious overtones as The Tree of Life. But one could not expect that the film would win the highest honor and so the producers of his film had to be content after the directors offensive remarks at his press conference with awarding Kirsten Dunst the best actress award.  In fact the part that Dunst plays carries the entire film and that makes it a good choice.  

There were four women in the official competition of 20 films - Lynne Ramsey for We Need to Talk about Kevin, Japanese director Naomi Kawase who directed "Hanezu no tsuki," Julia Leigh directing "Sleeping Beauty." And Maïwenn LeBesco who won the jury prize for her film Polisse about a section of French law enforcement officers who work with troubled youth. The director told the press that her parents abused her when she was young and had not supported her at all but still invited them to the festival.

Although the big celebrities command the attention of the press there are other venues at the festival such as the Director’s Fortnight, and the Critics Week. There is also a Cannes market. According to one producer I spoke with, Von Trier really screwed it up for the Nordic film companies since many countries had backed out of sales because of his offensive remarks about women, German Nazi’s and Jews.  The event tainted the festival, which is why awarding the prize to a grandiose project about life complete with angels and dinosaurs--starring Brad Pitt could only be seen as filling the space with a better vision. Terrence Malik did not pick up his award did not make a fool of himself at the press conference, did not walk up the carpet giving out autographs left and right like Angelina Jolie and what’s his name, but he snuck in to see his own movie. 

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 06 /01/11
Movie Magazine International