Cannes Film Festival (15-26 May, 2013)

May 27th, 2013 - Graham Eley

New films from world cinema heavyweights, Asghar Farhadi, Jia Zhangke and Kore-Eda Hirokazu, head an impressive competition line-up for the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

 

Three previous Palme d’Or winners return.  Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ has looked a shoo-in for some time and Roman Polanski’s ‘Venus in Furs’ won’t raise too many eyebrows.  The inclusion of Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic  ‘Behind the Candelabra’ is a surprise, with the TV movie seeming more likely to receive an out-of-competition screening.  It makes for an interesting six months for Soderbergh, whose big screen swansong ‘Side Effects’ appeared at Berlin earlier this year.

 

The selection of Alexander Payne’s keenly awaited road movie, ‘Nebraska’, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Drive’ follow up ‘Only God Forgives’, with Ryan Gosling returning, will attract wide media attention.  It is a second time in the competition for both filmmakers, as it is for Francois Ozon, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and Takashi Miike.

 

After last year’s furore following an all-male line-up, Cannes organisers are likely to court further controversy this time around with only one of the films being directed by a woman.  It was Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s third feature, ‘Un Chateau en Italie’ a comedy drama starring Louis Garrel.

 

Speculation that Steve McQueen’s ‘Twelve Years A Slave’ would be finished in time for a Cannes competition berth proved unfounded.

 

Main Competition

 

Behind the Candelabra
Steven Soderbergh

 

Steven Soderbergh’s TV feature adaptation of Scott Thorson’s controversial autobiography novel, ‘Behind the Candelabra : My Life with Liberace’, will receive its world premiere at Cannes ahead of screening on HBO later this month.  Michael Douglas and Matt Damon star in the portrayal of Thorson’s disputed account of his six-year stormy relationship with the legendary entertainer.  Soderbergh, who has recently announced his filmmaking retirement, premiered his big screen swan-song, ‘Side Effects’, earlier this year at Berlin.

 

 

Brogman
Alex van Warmerdam

 

‘Brogman’ has the distinction of being the first feature from a Dutch filmmaker to receive a Palme d’Or nomination for 38 years.  It is the eighth film from veteran Alex van Warmerdam and his awards include a FIPRESCI Prize, which he picked up at Venice for ‘De jurk’ during 1996.  His latest stars Jan Bijvoet as a malevolent presence who shakes a modern suburban family from its complacency.

 

 

Grisgris
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

 

Africa’s most prominent filmmaker, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, returns to Cannes where he received a jury prize for ‘A Screaming Man’ three years ago.  Newcomer, Soulémane Démé, plays a twenty something disabled man with aspirations of being a professional dancer, who must rethink his career after serious illness strikes a family member.  As with all of Haroun’s recent films, it is set against the background of war-torn Chad.

 

 

Heli
Amat Escalante

 

Amat Escalante’s previous two films premiered in the Un Certain Regard at Cannes and ‘Sangre’ picked up a FIPRESCI Prize.  An emerging presence in the Mexican new wave, his latest feature, ‘Heli’ steps up to compete for the Palme d’Or and explores family crisis, violence and corruption in Mexican society.  Natalia Lopez is the editor, having previously worked on Carlos Reygadas’ last two films, and Reygadas, himself, is part of the production team, maintaining the strong collaboratory spirit of Mexican filmmaking.

 

 

The Immigrant
James Gray

 

Cannes favourite, James Gray, competes for the Palme d’Or for the fourth time with ‘The Immigrant’, a tough drama set in 1920’s New York.  Marion Cotillard leads a stellar cast, including Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix, and plays a stranded Polish lady, who finds a potential lifeline from prostitution in unusual circumstances.  Cotillard makes a second Cannes appearance in Guillaume Canet’s out-of-competition title, ‘Blood Ties’, which Gray also co-wrote.

 

 

Inside Llewyn Davis
Coen Brothers

 

With a Palme d’Or, three best director wins and eight competition selections, the Coen Brothers have established a special bond with Cannes, which always makes them a serious contender for the major prizes.  Their next feature, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, starring Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake, returns to 1960s New York for a quirky take on the burgeoning folk scene, which, amongst others, brought Bob Dylan to the fore.  CBS Films will delay its North America release until December as part of an awards campaign.

 

 

Jeune et Jolie
François Ozon

 

‘Jeune et Jolie’ (Young and Beautiful), marks François Ozon’s only second appearance in the main completion; the other being ‘Swimming Pool’ ten years ago.  Ozon has kept much of the plot under wraps but, in broad terms, it is a challenging coming-of-age tale surrounding the sexual exploits of a 17-year-old girl.  Up and coming actress, Marina Vacth, stars alongside Ozon regular, Charlotte Rampling.

 

 

Jimmy P
Arnaud Desplechin

 

Arnaud Desplechin brings together the intriguing combination of Benicio Del Toro and Matthieu Amalric for his latest feature, the much anticipated ‘Jimmy P’.  Based on a true story, Desplechin takes a sideways look at Native American culture via an unlikely friendship between a Plains Indian of the Blackfeet nation and his psychoanalyst.  It is the follow-up to Desplechin’s critically acclaimed, ‘A Christmas Tale’, and will be the fifth time that he has competed for the Palme d’Or.

 

 

La Grande Belleza
Paolo Sorrentino

 

Paolo Sorrentino reunites with Toni Servillo for his latest feature, ‘La Grande Belleza’, where a world-weary journalist reflects upon his youth.  It his fifth film in the main competition and marks a return to an Italian setting after his ambitious first English language film, ‘This Must Be the Place’.  It remains to be seen whether Sorrentino plays on the Felliniesque nature of the plot as a homage.

 

 

La Vie D’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Colour)
Abdellatif Kechiche

 

Abdellatif Kechiche makes his first appearance on the Croisette with ‘La Vie D’Adele’ (‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’), the longest film in the main competition at almost three hours.  Three of his previous four features have premiered at Venice at the other end of the festival season and ‘Couscous’ went on to win César awards for best film, director and original screenplay.  Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux star in his latest, a daring tale of sexual identity.

 

 

Le Passé (The Past)
Asghar Farhadi

 

Asghar Farhadi follows the Golden Bear and Foreign Language Oscar winner, ‘A Separation’, with his first feature shot outside Iran.  Arguably, the most keenly awaited film of this year’s Cannes, ‘Le Passé’ (‘The Past’), returns to the theme of separation when an Iranian man arrives in Paris for a divorce settlement but encounters a secret from his past.  Leading Iranian actor, Ali Mosaffa, joins Bérénice Bejo (‘The Artist’) and Tahar Rahim (‘A Prophet’) in an outstanding cast.

 

 

Michael Kohlhaas
Arnaud des Pallières

 

Arnaud des Pallières’ adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s highly acclaimed early 19th century novella ‘Michael Kohlhaas’ is this year’s surprise selection.  Little known outside of his native France, ‘Parc’ was des Pallières’ only previous film to appear on the festival radar when it picked up a Bronze Horse at Stockholm five years ago.  A strong cast, including Mads Mikkelsen, who won best actor at last year’s Cannes, will raise the profile of his latest feature.

 

 

Nebraska
Alexander Payne

 

Alexander Payne returns to the main competition for the second time after ‘About Schmidt’ over ten years ago.  Bruce Dern and Will Forte star as an estranged father and son, who reunite for a road-trip to claim a million dollar sweepstake prize.  It is the follow up to ‘The Descendants’ and will be Payne’s third road movie with quirky characters.

 

 

Only God Forgives
Nicolas Winding Refn

 

‘Only God Forgives’ reunites Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, the director and star of the Cannes hit, ‘Drive’ and adds Kristin Scott Thomas to the mix.  It takes us to the streets of Bangkok for a revenge thriller where Gosling plays a drug smuggler operating from a Thai boxing club.  Refn has given meaning to title and raised the ante by disclosing that Gosling’s character ‘wants to fight God without knowing why’.

 

 

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch

 

Jim Jarmusch received a grand jury prize for ‘Broken Flowers’ on his first appearance in the main competition and now returns as a late entry to this year’s line-up with ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’.  It is the latest contribution to the current crop of vampire revisionist films with Jarmusch contemplating the nature of love when two protagonists have been together for centuries.  Tilda Swinton, who featured in Jarmusch’s crime drama, ‘The Limits of Control’, stars alongside Tom Hiddleston.

 

 

Soshite Chichi Ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son)
Kore-Eda Hirokazu

 

Kore-Eda Hirokazu continues to probe into Japanese family life with his latest feature, ‘Soshite Chichi Ni Naru’ (‘Like Father, Like Son’).  Pop star, Masaharu Fukuyama, plays a ruthless business man, who faces a crisis point when discovering that his real son was inadvertently switched at birth six years before.  Hirokazu, a natural heir to Ozu, competed for the Palme d’Or with earlier films ‘Distance’ and ‘Nobody Knows’.

 

 

Tian Zhu Ding (A Touch of Sin)
Jia Zhangke

 

Leading Chinese filmmaker, Jia Zhangke, returns to Cannes after two earlier appearances.  His latest film, ‘Tian Zhu Ding’ (‘A Touch of Sin’) provides a look at contemporary China from the viewpoint of characters living in different parts of the country.  Jia regular Zhao Tao joins Jiang Wu (‘Shower’) and Wang Baoqiang (‘Blind Shaft’) in a strong ensemble cast.

 

 

Un château en Italie
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi

 

The accolade of being the only woman competing for the Palme d’Or goes to Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, as Cannes faces renewed criticism for its male dominated line-ups.  Her latest film, ‘Un château en Italie’, portrays a powerful family of Italian industrialists as it falls apart at the end of an era.  Bruni-Tedeschi, who is best known for her extensive career as an actress (‘Munich’, ‘5×2’, ‘A Perfect Couple’) stars alongside her husband, Louis Garrel and ‘Of Gods and Men’ director, Xavier Beauvois.  ‘Actrices’ was her only other feature behind the camera to premiere at Cannes and it received an Un Certain Regard special jury prize six years ago.

 

 

Venus in Fur
Roman Polanski

 

Roman Polanski is sticking with adapting plays for the big screen notwithstanding his failure to transcend the theatrical origins of his last film, ‘Carnage’.  This time around, Polanski has turned his attention to David Ives’s Broadway hit play, ‘Venus in Fur’, where an audition becomes a battle of wits between an actress and playwright embroiled in sexual power play.  The two-hander stars Mathieu Amalric alongside Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner.

 

 

Wara no Tate (Shield of Straw)
Takashi Miike

 

The prolific Japanese filmmaker, Takashi Miike, who makes Woody Allen’s one film a year schedule look positively pedestrian, competes for the Palme d’Or for the second time after ‘Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai’ two years ago.  Miike provides more of his cult blend of V-Cinema action and high end sophistication in his latest production, ‘Wara no Tate’ (‘Shield of Straw’), a pumped up contemporary take on the ‘bounty’ sub-genre.  Takao Osawa and Nanako Matsushima star as two cops protecting a confessed killer.generic sildalissildalis tabletsgeneric sildalis onlinetablets sildalis onlinesildalis genericbuy sildalis canadasildalis purchase

This year’s Palme d’Or followed pre-ceremony expectations in going to Abdellatif Kechiche’s lesbian love story ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’, being the longest film in the main competition at almost three hours.  Kechiche, who was making his first appearance on the Croisette, had seen his fifth feature emerge as the frontrunner after the international critics awarded it the Fipresci prize.  Three of his previous films had premiered at Venice, including ‘Couscous’, which went on to win multiple César awards.

 

Jury president, Steven Spielberg, was at pains to stress that the decision was free of political considerations with it coming hot on the heels of France’s aggressively contested gay marriage debate.  Politics will inevitably play a part with censorship, though, and it seems improbable that the film will screen in Kechiche’s native Tunisia.

 

The jury made the unusual move of including the film’s co-stars, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, in its citation.  The gesture comes in a year when Cannes was once again under fierce attack for undervaluing woman filmmakers during its selection process.

 

There was no surprise with the Grand Prix (second best film) going to the Coen brothers’ quirky 60’s folk scene comedy, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.  It is the fifth major award that the Coens have picked up at Cannes following a Palme d’Or and three best director wins.

 

The best director prize went to Amat Escalante for his society-in-crisis drama, ‘Heli’, the latest coup for the Mexican new wave.  Escalante’s previous two films both premiered in the Un Certain Regard sidebar and ‘Sangre’ won a Fipresci prize.

 

Kore-Eda Hirokazu took the jury prize for ‘Like Father, Like Son’, where a business high flyer faced a crisis when discovering that his real son was inadvertently switched at birth.  It is third time that Hirokazu has competed for the Palme d’Or after ‘Distance’ and ‘Nobody Knows’.

 

Another world cinema heavyweight, Jia Zhangke, won best screenplay for ‘A Touch of Sin’.  Zhangke’s third film to screen on the Croisette examines contemporary China from the viewpoint of characters living in different parts of the country.

 

Spreading the awards around in the Cannes tradition, Berenice Bejo (‘The Artist’) enhanced her growing reputation with a best actress win for her performance in Asghar Farhadi’s latest ‘separation’ drama, ‘The Past’ and veteran American actor, Bruce Dern, took the best actor prize for co-starring in Alexander Payne’s return to the road movie genre, ‘Nebraska’.

 

Anthony Chen’s ‘Ilo Ilo’, the dramatisation of a maid’s real life bond with children in her care, received the Camera d’Or for best feature debut across all sections.  It is the first Singaporean film to win a major award at Cannes.

 

The Un Certain Regard sidebar awarded its best film to Rithy Panh’s ‘The Missing Picture’, an autobiographical documentary on Khmer Rouge atrocities.  Panh, Cambodia’s best known filmmaker, competed for the Palme d’Or almost twenty years ago with the ‘Rice People’.

 

Another autobiographical feature, Guillaume Galliennes’ ‘Me, Myself and Mum’, triumphed in the parallel Directors’ Fortnight.  It is Galliennes’ first film in the director’s chair after appearing in many films as an actor.

 

And the Nespresso Prize for the best film in the other parallel section, the Critics’s Week, went to Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s hit man romance ‘Salvo’.  It is the filmmakers’ debut feature but they have enjoyed previous success with their festival hit short, ‘Rita’.

 

 

AWARDS:

 

Palme d’Or
Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie D’Adele Chapitre 1 & 2) by Abdellatif Kechiche

 

Grand Prix
Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

 

Best Director
Amat Escalante for Heli

 

Jury prize
Hirokazu Kore-eda for Like Father, Like Son

 

Best Screenplay
Jia Zhang-ke for A Touch of Sin

 

Best Actress
Berenice Bejo in The Past (Le Passe) by Asghar Farhadi

 

Best Actor
Bruce Dern in Nebraska by Alexander Payne

 

Camera d’Or (Best First Feature)
Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen (presented in Directors’ Fortnight)

 

Palme d’Or Court Metrage (Short Film)
Safe by Moon Byoung-gon

 

Special Mentions to Whale Valley (Hvalfjordur) by Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson and 37°4 S by Adriano Valerio

 

Prize of Un Certain Regard (Best Film)
The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh

 

Directors’ Fortnight’s Art Cinema Award (Best Film)
Me, Myself and Mum by Guillaume Galliennes

 

Critics’s Weeks’ Nespresso Prize (Best Film)
Salvo by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza

The main competition:

 

“Behind the Candleabra,” Steven Soderbergh

 

“Borgman,” Alex Van Warmerdam

 

“Grisgris,” Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

 

“Heli,” Amat Escalante

 

“The Immigrant,” James Gray

 

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

 

“Jeune et Jolie,” Francois Ozon

 

“Jimmy P.,” Arnaud Desplechin

 

“La Grande Belleza,” Paolo Sorrentino

 

“La Vie D’Adele,” Abdellatif Kechiche

 

“Le Passe,” Asghar Farhadi

 

“Michael Kohlhaas,”  Arnaud des Pallières

 

“Nebraska,” Alexander Payne

 

“Only God Forgives,” Nicolas Winding Refn

 

“Only Lovers Left Alive,” Jim Jarmusch

 

“Soshite Chichi Ni Naru,” Kore-Eda Hirokazu

 

“Tian Zhu Ding,” Jia Zhangke

 

“Un Chateau en Italie,” Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi

 

“Venus in Furs,” Roman Polanski

 

“Wara No Tate,” Takashi Miike

 

 

Out of competition:

 

“All Is Lost,” J.C. Chandor

 

“Blood Ties,” Guillaume Canet

 

 

Un Certain Regard:

 

“Anonymous,” Mohammed Rasoulof

 

“As I Lay Dying,” James Franco

 

“Bends,” Flora Lau

 

“Death March,” Adolfo Alix Jr.

 

“Grand Central,” Rebecca Zlotowski

 

“Fruitvale Station,” Ryan Coogler

 

“La Jaula de Oro,” Diego Quemada-Diez

 

“Les Salauds,” Claire Denis

 

“L’Image Manquante,” Rithy Panh

 

“L’Inconnu du Lac,” Alain Guiraudie

 

“Miele,” Valeria Golino

 

“Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan,” Lav Diaz

 

“Omar,” Hany Abu-Assad

 

“Sarah Prefere La Course,” Chloe Robichaud

 

 

Special screenings:

 

“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” Stephen Frears

 

“Otdat Konci,” Taisia Igumentseva

 

“Seduced and Abandoned,” James Toback

 

“Stop the Pounding Heart,” Roberto Minnervini

 

“Week End of a Champion,” Roman Polanski

 

Homage to Jerry Lewis:

 

“Max Rose,” Daniel Noah

 

 

Midnight screenings:

 

“Blind Detective,” Johnnie To

 

“Monsoon Shootout,” Amit Kumar

Discussion

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