The large international festival has ended. Yours truly wasn’t there, but I do have some updates on who took home some of the top prizes:
- Two openly gay film directors took home prestigious awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Thai film director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (have fun spelling that!) won the prestigious Palme d’Or for his film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and twenty-one-year old, Canadian Director Xavier Dolan took home the Regards Jeunes prize for his film Heartbeats. Tim Burton, who headed the jury, called the Weerasethakul’s film “a beautiful, strange dream.”
- Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s A Screaming Man from Chad took home the jury prize, which is a monumental achievement for African film-making. Shot with the desert country’s on-off civil war raging in the background, the drama shows a swimming champion turned hotel pool attendant humiliated when the new cost-cutting Chinese owners force him to hand his job to his son.
- But not all was well at the festival. With the political unrest of a deep economic recession, not just in France but in Europe, and several threats of potential terrorism, many of the reports leaking from festival describe the mood as “unsteady” and “distracted.” Additionally, Weerasethakul faced crisis in his own country of Thailand; he had difficulty attending the festival, it was reported.
Not much new on the World Cinema stage, folks. Sure, there’s a little festival going on in Cannes, France (you might have heard of it, yes?), but otherwise the front this time of year is kind of quiet.
So, let’s reflect on one of my favorite films, foreign or not, that I happened to re-watch this weekend: The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge).
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How does World Cinema work? It’s an interesting question. And we surely can’t answer it entirely—no matter how hard we try. Nevertheless, I present to you a short series on world cinema/foreign film.
When a person refers to ‘World Cinema,’ he/she is often an English-speaking person from an English-speaking country who happens to be referring to non-English-speaking films and film markets. He/She may also call this “foreign film”—and for this reason we can understand how world cinema can simply mean films originating from a country other than one’s own (U.K., China, Australia, etc.). Despite these minute gray areas, most people nevertheless know what you are referring to when you talk about “world cinema.”
But just how much world cinema is out there? A lot, surely. There are a lot of countries, a lot of languages, and, of course, a lot of people. But is that really all there is to it? There are thousands and thousands of clothing and car companies but certain designers (Nike, Gap; Toyota, Dodge)—that is, the biggest of the biggest—hold such a gigantic sway that even when somebody is in a place like, say, Nigeria all they see are giant ‘swooshes’ and Camrys. The same is true for film.Continue Reading »
Last Thursday, April 15th, the details for the Cannes Film Festival were announced. As many of you well know, the CFF is a major gathering point for the current year’s significant cinematic entries; many of the winners of the festival’s biggest prize–the Palme d’Or–have gone on to win Academy Awards and, perhaps more impressively, go down in history as film classics (just take a look at the 60s winners if you don’t believe me). The private festival is held annually in May at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, in the resort town of Cannes, in the south of France.Continue Reading »
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A Review of Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer–based not on the same-titled Philip Roth novel but rather on the Robert Harris political thriller, The Ghost–is a curious film about displacement and secrecy. Both are words, concepts not far removed from the velvet-tipped gloves of Mr. Polanski himself, who has had to both displace (to anywhere but the U.S.–although he is currently under house arrest in Switzerland) and keep disgustingly mum about his much publicized rape of a young girl some thirty-odd years ago. All of this quite possibly feeds into a lingering resentment, or ressentiment, described in the film’s haunting atmosphere–the cold, immaculate interiors, the thrashing rain which beats over the Eastern seaboard with relentless anguish. This is a United States shown at its grimiest, at its most unforgiving; all of the principal characters (with the exception of McGregor) are (British) exiles in one way or another, shacking up on the American shore because of necessity and refuge. Here the murky waters are a constant reminder of all that remains soiled and undone.