Tag: Cannes

Films from Cannes to Look out for When They’re Released

Cannes had some excellent films both in and out of the main competition this year, and while films like The Dead Don’t Die have already had a wide release, many films aren’t being released (or at least released worldwide) for many months. Here are the ones to keep an eye on for when they do finally make it to cinemas.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Celine Sciamma’s 18th century gothic romance was one of the very, very best films of Cannes 2019. Based on the common upper class ritual of a young aristocratic woman having a portrait painted of her to entice rich prospective husbands, it follows a female painter who has been tasked with covertly painting a mysterious young lady who won’t sit for a portrait. It uses the framework of a spooky fairy tale woven around a love story perhaps even more effectively than Phantom Thread. Sciamma and her cinematographer Claire Mathon somehow create a softness that makes the characters themselves look like 18th century paintings. The film blossoms into a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that leaves us gasping for breath by the end. The final few seconds of the film are, in this writer’s opinion, some of the best in world cinema this century. Released in France on 18 September with a limited release in the US on 6 December, there’s no UK release date yet, although the distribution rights have been snapped up by Curzon Artificial Eye. 

Parasite

Parasite won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, the first Korean film to do so. The first half of the film appears to be genuinely a laugh-out-loud comedy, and yet pierces issues of class and inequality as successfully as the more blood-soaked second half. It is biting satire, with all the wit and depth of Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. This film, though, focuses on a poor family, down on their luck in a basement apartment, as they systematically infiltrate a hugely wealthy upper class family by each becoming hired help within the home. Bong Joon-Ho deftly balances the comedy and violence so that it says more about society than Snowpiercer and Okja combined. Parasite has already been hugely successful in the domestic box office, but will be released in the US on 19 October. 

Matthias et Maxime

Dolan’s return to Cannes isn’t his best ever, but it’s nonetheless a lovely film. It does something I have rarely seen an art film do – it takes high school comedies like American Pie and blends them with art house cinema. It has some classic Dolan melodrama, but also some of his best comedy. Supporting characters like their friend’s pretentious Anglophile sister and a sleazy young American business executive make for laugh-out-loud scenes that somehow also bite deep into the modern ‘OMG’ zeitgeist. There’s no release date yet for Matthias et Maxime internationally, but it does have a Canadian release on October 9th. 

La Femme de mon Frère (A Brother’s Love)

This Quebecois film was screened as part of Un Certain Regard as opposed to the Official Competition. Monia Chokri (longtime collaborator with fellow Canadian Xavier Dolan) directed this wonderfully offbeat comedy with such an assured visual style that it is not unreasonable to think she could not obtain the stylistic heights of someone like the endlessly popular Wes Anderson, or indeed her compatriot Dolan. The visual style is genuinely stunning for large parts of the movie, like the opening shot of Sophia dropping her thesis papers out the front door of a fictional university in Montreal as the camera slowly zooms out in perfect symmetry. It translates the hipster-ness of Montreal onto the screen extremely well, but consequently may not be to the taste of everyone. It’s already been released in Canada, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will get an international release. 

A Hidden Life

Terence Malick’s newest musing on life is often stunningly beautiful and certainly packs an emotional punch, but, almost inevitably with Malick, is about an hour too long. Don’t let this put you off even if you aren’t a die-hard Malick fan. There’s enough there that is stunning to make the meandering worth it. Set in Sankt Radegund, a remote village in Upper Austria, through his wide angle lens Malick tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis, despite the punishment of death. A Hidden Life was picked up by Fox Searchlight for $14m after its Cannes premiere, and will be released on December 13th. 

Il Traditore

“The Traitor” has all the glamour of a crime epic, but Italian New Wave icon Marco Bellocchio’s film is more interested in the legal aspects of the story than the action, although it does have enough of that too. It follows the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, a Sicilian mafia boss who decided to collaborate with Italian authorities to put away several prominent capos, an unprecedented move that proved just as controversial with the Sicilian people as it did inflammatory with the mafia. The film balances mafia style with courtroom drama, and it does so pretty successfully, with a particularly beautiful segment in Rio de Janeiro. It never quite reaches the heights of the the greatest mafia movies, but it does provide a fascinating insight into the first mafia informant in Sicily, and, like Buschetta did himself, paints a comprehensive narrative of the real workings of the infamous Sicilian mafia.

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Here’s How This Year’s Cannes Winners Started Working in Indie Cinema

The 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival ended last month, awarding a lot of brilliant actors and filmmakers. Many of them began their career by making or acting in indie films. Some of them still enjoy short films and make them a part of their current work. Among these talented people, we have chosen four of them and studied their link with independent cinema.

 

Emily Beecham, Best Performance by an Actress

The Best Performance by an Actress Prize was awarded to Emily Beecham for her role in Little Joe (2019), directed by Jessica Hausner. When Ms Beecham was 23 and freshly graduated, she was cast as Joanna in Jan Dunn’s The Calling (2007), the story of a young woman who decides to join a religious order against her family’s advice. The independent feature film found success and she was awarded the Best Actress Prize by the London Independent Film Festival and the Trailblazer Award by the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009.

Nearly ten years later, Emily earned the main role in Daphne (2017), playing a character who lives in a superficial world to protect herself. She was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress category at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards, offering her international recognition. Emily Beecham is synonym of three awards and one nomination out of nine films between 2007 and 2019. Who could say she hasn’t known success thanks to indie films?

 

Ladj Ly, Jury Prize

For this 72nd edition of Cannes, two films won ex-aequo the Jury Prize – Bacurau, directed by Kleber Mendoca Filho & Juliano Dornelles, and Les Misérables, directed by Ladj Ly. Let’s talk about the latter, who has always experimented with independent short films during his career: Go Fast Connexion produced in 2008, but also a first edition of his awarded film from two years ago.

The synopsis is relatively similar for both version of Les Misérables. A French Anti-Crime Squad works on a deprived estate, between drug dealers, violence and children living in this zone. But in the last (feature) film, things are much more developed: the children stole a lion cub, the policemen make a blunder, and the situation is almost becoming out of control. And do you know what the best thing is? The awarded film is really the evolution of an indie film!

 

Bong Joon-Ho, Palme d’Or

Mr Bong’s film Parasite was awarded the most prestigious prize at Cannes Festival: the Palme d’Or. Nowadays known as the most famous south-Korean director and screenwriter, Bong Joon-Ho started his career with a short independent movie in 1995. Titled White Man, the story begins with a finger found by an ordinary man on his way to work. This 16 minutes drama – winner of a Shin-young Youth Movie Festival prize – truly launched Bong Joon-Ho’s career. In 2014 he directed Snowpiercer  – adaptation of a French comic  – where the last survivors of the planet are confined in a train, while all people outside died due to a climate change which made the planet freeze. This Korean-American film adaptation was chosen to be part of the top 10 Independent Films of the National Board of Review Awards in the USA the same year.

Dardenne brothers, Best director prize

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne won this year the Best Director Prize for their last work Young Ahmed, dealing with the societal problem of radicalisation. The main character is played by a 13 years old teenager, growing between religious principles and a dawning love. The Dardenne brothers are film directors and also screenwriters and producers.

The Belgian brothers have been working together since 1975. They decided to create their own production company the same year, giving it the name of “Dérives” in order to be independent and to be able to finance themselves their cinematographic projects. The Dardenne brothers are probably the most complete Europeans authors. In 1996 they produced La promesse thanks to the funds of their own company and some public aids. The central themes were conscience and family. Six years later, Le fils, written, directed and produced by the Dardenne brothers – making it an independent film – put social issues and family at the center of the storyline.

 

To conclude, we hope this article convinced you about the importance of indie films. Almost all of the most famous and talented cinema players started with independent films. Long life to indie cinema!

 

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