71st Cannes Report # 3

By Moira Sullivan

Two of the top favorites in the official selection were directed by women and at the Cannes Film Festival that ended May 19 from three women chosen for the official selection. Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro" (Italy),  the story of an exploited colony of tobacco leaf pickers living on the land of a miserly duchess won best screenplay, a prize she shared with Jafar Panahi from Iran who was not allowed to attend the festival by his country.

Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” (Lebanon) which won the Jury Prize investigates an impoverished boy who sues his parents for giving him life. I knew when I saw this film it was clearly a strong contender for Palme d'Or with powerful innovative shots, editing, music. References to Sweden and its humanitarian efforts for Syria did not go unnoticed. I also liked Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun”(France) which follows a female Kurdish military battalion formed after their village is put under siege by Islamic extremists .

Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, the closing film this year, was “spectacular” with colorful at times overstuffed mise en scène but the roles for women were still medieval - actress-model-high class escort (Olga Kurylenko and Joana Ribeiro). Kurylenko as Jacqui is the mistress of 'The Boss' (Stellan Skarsgård). Newcomer Joana Ribeiro (Angelica) plays a former actress for Toby's (Adam Driver') film on Don Quixote in his youth. She later becomes the mistress of the corrupt Russian crime lord Alexei Miiskin (Jordi Mollà) and a gender bending plot twist can be found in the ending.

Adam Driver's as a modern Don Quixote taking over for  Jonathan Pryce does his best standing in for the late Jean Rochefort. For a 20 year wait, Gilliam manages fairly well to pull it off. At the press conference he jokingly remarked that his next project is 'death'. Throughout the Red Carpet walk up to the steps, he could be seen dancing as an elf-like figure, colorfully dressed with a long tail in his haircut.

At the closing ceremony this year a bold and audacious declaration was made by Asia Argento, wincing words and truths even for jury president Cate Blanchett who announced she was raped by Harvey Weinstein at Cannes in 1997 at 21-years-old. She proclaimed that Cannes was his 'hunting ground' and admonished those that still need to be held accountable for their behavior. Cannes shivered from the powerful statement. Argento has been scorned by the media in Italy and had to flee with her children to Berlin.

Margarethe von Trotta’s documentary “Searching for Ingmar Bergman” screened at the Cannes Classics section devoted to important films and directors. Marianne and Juliane (Die bleierne Zeit 1981) was one of his personal favorites.

Cannes Classics also screened a tribute to the very first film director Alice Guy Blaché: “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché” by Pamela Green. The filmmaker stated at the festival that “If Alice and many other female filmmakers were known throughout the years we would not have to right the severe imbalance of male to female makers".

An event that Cannes has still not acknowledged as official parallel event even if it is one at Berlin and Venice is the “Queer Palm Award” in the struggle for inclusion of LGBTQI representation at A-list festivals. This year it went to "The Girl" - Lukas Dhont's “Un Certain Regard” entry winner for best artistic interpretation (by Victor Polster) and the Camera d’Or recipient, a bold narrative on trans teen ballerina. Carolina Markowicz's “O Orfao” (The Orphan, Brazil) won the short film prize. Part of the Director’s Fortnight, it chronicles the return of an adopted boy by a couple who considers him too effeminate. Queer Palm Jury president French producer Sylvie Pialat led a team in an event for these awards  founded by Franck Finance Maduiera.

­­­­­­It is a year that is only meaningful if the number of films made by women selected to the Cannes festival increases. This showcase of original cinematic art work may not continue under the same exclusive terms of the past, but this is a year where the work of women is of great importance to its future.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/30/18
Movie Magazine International