Cannes Classics at 77th Cannes Film Festival

By Moira Sullivan

Movie Magazine International was at Cannes again for the 10th time at the 77th Festival de Cannes. What I was looking forward to at this festival was of course the documentary on Faye Dunaway: Faye by French American Laurent Bouzereau held in the Cannes Classics venue in Salle Buñuel where I always can get a seat.

Faye (2024) © Festival de Cannes

Faye Dunaway loves the Cannes Film Festival and her image was the poster for 2011. I have stood in line in the past with her waiting to get into the Agnes Varda Theatre till an usher recognized who she is and took her in to the front row. She goes to the seminars and asks great questions; she’s a real Cineaste! So the debut of this new documentary film at Cannes Classics Faye was really something to look forward to. 

Dunaway has had her share of difficulties, on the set, and she has recently revealed  that she has bipolar disorder. Some of the roles that she’s taken on of people in real life makes me wonder if they all didn’t have it as well like Joan Crawford and Bonnie Parker. In Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) she’s however, the most vivid three-dimensional character in the film, victim of incest by her father played by John Huston. She is forced to call her child "her sister" to protect her. Private eye Jake Gittes played by Jack Nicholson is more than perplexed by her character that makes his adultery cases look far from robust in comparison.
Faye Dunaway is one of cinemas great actors and this documentary will soon be available on MAX and HBO in 2024.
Festival poster of Faye Dunaway 2011 © Festival de Cannes

The best Cannes Classic for me was in 2022 when Tilda Swinton was the guest introducing along with a BBC producer the film Friendship’s Death, a zany film about an alien who comes to earth (Swinton) to visit MIT and instead witnesses the Palestinian conflict through Black Sunday. It was written by Peter Wollen who was a film critic and  Swinton agreed with me that he was very influential to people working in film in the 70s such as Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow was keen on studying film theory - probably one of the only filmmakers that has a degree in film studies, which is why I believe her films are so great. Swinton told us that during the pandemic she had to shelter in place in England and had at her disposal the two-volume set of Michael Powell's autobiography. She learned through these editions that the movie industry was going to survive no matter what: the change from silent films to talkies to the anti-trust studio bust, the Hollywood 10 controversy and television and the studio reorganization. I would like to add the industry survived Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom made in 1960 although his career almost didn't. It stars Moira Shearer about a photographer who films his victims as he kills them with the leg of his tripod fashioned into a knife. There was hardly a critic who liked it 1960 and it seemed to spell the end of his career. But François Truffaut did; he saw it multiple times and felt empathy for the serial murderer (seriously?). 

Another guest at Cannes Classics was William Friedkin who came with his wife producer Sherry Lansing in 2016 for a surprise screening of To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) for its world premiere restoration!
This year I saw two excellent classics: Army of Shadows by independent filmmaker Jean Pierre Melville from 1969. It was not released in the US until 2006 because of how Charles de Gaulle was glorified in the film. French critics protested and somehow that influenced distributors in the US. Simone Signoret steals the scenes she is in and even the ones in which she is not. She really breaks up the heaviness of the all male cast and her role is prominent in depicting women in the resistance. 
Melville has a small part in Godard’s Breathless  (1960) who is interviewed by the young American journalist Patricia (Jean Seberg). Melville also directed Les Enfants Terribles (1950) with screenplay by Jean Cocteau (1950). 

Rosaura at 10 o’clock (Rosaura a las Diez - 1958) was the other classic screened I caught at Cannes Classics directed by Argentinian director Mario Soffici. It is a film you really can’t see projected anywhere so it was a real treat. A painter at a boarding house played by Uruguayan actor Juan Verdaguer receives perfumed letters from a beautiful woman, the Argentinian actress Susana Campos. Everyone has a fantasy about who she could be. In all fairness to Campos,  the fantasies about her create an alternative narrative that is far more interesting than the reality. Salle Buñuel that night reminded me of a memorable evening at the movies with an enthusiastic film loving audience who were not too eager to let go of the fantasy of a duplicitous noir-like femme fatale. 

I spoke with two young men filming the event about the union they belonged to and how much they worked at the Cannes Film Festival with no breaks and hardly any time to see the films. Before the festival, a strike organized by the labor union Sous les écrans la dèche the collective of precarious workers of festivals of cinema, threatened to interfere with the festival.  The union demand is to affiliate film festival workers as intermittent workers in the performing arts with minimum wages, hours and social security to offset the off season living conditions of workers. I can't imagine that a big festival like Cannes is keen about collective bargaining but without alligning film festival workers as intermittent workers, festivals like Cannes and 60 other cinema festivals may find themselves without workers.  The staff at Cannes is sizeable with jobs such as security, scanning badges and screenings and audio visual monitoring. This is the first time since 1968 that a strike made its presence known at Cannes. 

Next week more from the Cannes Film Festival. 
For Movie Magazine, this is Moira Sullivan.

© 2024 - Moira Sullivan: 05/31/24
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