Cannes Festivals News

Cannes 2008 Reactions: Blindness

The opening film of this year’s festival was Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and starring Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

Based on José Saramago’s 1995 novel it is about an epidemic of blindness in a modern city.

Here is a summary of some of the critical reaction:

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere is underwhelmed:

I respected Blindness — I certainly agree with what it’s saying — but it didn’t arouse me at all. Opening-night films at big festivals are often underwhelming on this or that level — bland, suckish, so-so.

I’m sorry to be saying what I’m saying as I worshipped Meirelles’ City of God and very much admired The Constant Gardener. But the truth is that Blindness is more than a bit of a flub.

For what it’s worth, the pacing, performances and tech credits are first-rate.

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter feels lacks an element of surprise:

Blindness is provocative cinema. But it also is predictable cinema: It startles but does not surprise.

An appreciative critical response will be needed stateside for Miramax to market this Brazilian-Canadian-Uruguayan co-production.

Other territories may benefit from the casting of an array of international actors with some boxoffice draw.

Justin Chang of Variety has similarly mixed feelings:

Despite a characteristically strong performance by Julianne Moore as a lone figure who retains her eyesight, bearing sad but heroic witness to the horrors around her, Fernando Meirelles’ slickly crafted drama rarely achieves the visceral force, tragic scope and human resonance of Saramago’s prose.

Despite marquee names, mixed reviews might yield fewer eyes than desired for this international co-production.

Joe Utichi of IGN is also somewhat disappointed:

Ultimately, Blindness is a brave attempt from this ever-versatile director at creating an intelligent, original sci-fi thriller that, sadly, never quite comes together.

James Rocchi of Cinematical is more admiring:

But while Blindness can be faulted for many things, it also has to be respected for its ambition, craft, and effort;

Blindness shows us a world of wide-eyed sightlessness, and it does so through a fierce vision that only occasionally loses focus.

Xan Brooks of The Guardian is also more positive:

Blindness may well be the bleakest curtain raiser in the history of the festival, a nightmarish parable of the apocalypse, directed by the Brazilian film-maker Fernando Meirelles and just as impressive in its way as his career-making City of God.

It’s a devastating bit of work – a cold-eyed portrait of social meltdown that nonetheless shows how catastrophe can bring out the best in people as well as the worst.

I could have done without Danny Glover’s sage, hushed narration over every stray moment of quiet, but otherwise this was pretty much spot-on.

Sukhdev Sandhu of The Daily Telegraph feels the acting is strong, but not enough to redeem the overall film:

As always, it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off Moore who is so adept at playing roles in which her strength seems brittle, almost masochistic.

Alice Braga, a prostitute who is one of the inmates that Moore and Ruffalo befriend, is also a stand-out performer.

They do well to save a film that, in trying so hard to be faithful to the novel, falls prey to tone-deafness.

Did you see Blindness at Cannes? If so, then leave your thoughts below.

> Blindness at the IMDb
> Find out more about the novel at Wikipedia
> Anne Thomspon speaks to director Fernando Meirelles at Variety
> Will Lawrence also has a piece on Mereilles at the Telegraph

Amusing Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008: Kung Fu Panda launch at the Carlton

Now this is how to launch a DreamWorks animated film about kung fu pandas in Cannes.

Get Jack Black and about 40 people in panda costumes outside the Carlton Hotel:

Kung Fu Panda screens at the festival tomorrow (Thursday 15th) and opens in the US on June 6th and the UK on July 4th

> Official site for Kung Fu Panda
> Find out more about the film at Wikipedia

Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008: Screening Schedule

For all those out at Cannes here is the schedule for all the major screenings for the next fortnight, which include those in and out of official competition.

Steps of the Red Carpet


19.15 Opening ceremony
23.30 BLINDNESS (1h58) Directed by Fernando Meirelles

8.30 – 16.30 LEONERA (1h53) Directed by Pablo Trapero
14.00 – 22.00 WALTZ WITH BASHIR (1h27) Directed by Ari Folman

FRI 16th MAY
8.30 – 14.30 – 19.00 UN CONTE DE NOËL (2h30) Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
12.00 – 22.30 ÜÇ MAYMUN (Les Trois Singes) (1h49) Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

SAT 17th MAY
8.30 – 22.00 LINHA DE PASSE (1h48) Directed by Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas
16.00 ER SHI SI CHENG JI (24 City) (1h52) Directed by Jia Zhangke

SUN 18th MAY
8.30 – 22.00 GOMORRA (2h15) Directed by Matteo Garrone
16.30 SERBIS (1h30) Directed by Brillante Mendoza

MON 19th MAY
9.00 – 13.00 – 19.00 LE SILENCE DE LORNA (1h45) Directed by Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne
22.00 TWO LOVERS (1h40) Directed by James Gray

TUE 20th MAY
8.30 – 12.00 – 19.30 CHANGELING (2h21) Directed by Clint Eastwood
16.00 DELTA (1h32) (Directed by Kornél Mundruczó)

WED 21st MAY
16.00 LA MUJER SIN CABEZA (1h27) Directed by Lucrecia Martel
18.30 CHE (4h28) Directed by Steven Soderbergh

THU 22nd MAY
8.30 – 14.30 – 19.30 LA FRONTIÈRE DE L’AUBE (1h46) Directed by Philippe Garrel
11.30 – 22.30 ADORATION (1h40) Directed by Atom Egoyan

FRI 23rd MAY
8:30 – 19.30 SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2h04) Directed by Charlie Kaufman
11.30 – 22.30 IL DIVO (1h50) Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
16.30 MY MAGIC (1h15) Directed by Eric Khoo

SAT 24th MAY
8.30 – 16.00 ENTRE LES MURS (2h08) Directed by Laurent Cantet
19.30 PALERMO SHOOTING (2h04) Directed by Wim Wenders

SUN 25th MAY
19.30 Closing ceremony
23.00 WHAT JUST HAPPENED? (1h46) Directed by Barry Levinson

Crowd gathers for Ocean's Thirteen premiere


THU 15th MAY
11.15 – 19.30 KUNG FU PANDA (1h35) Directed by Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

SAT 17th MAY
11.30 – 19.30 VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (1h36) Directed by Woody Allen
00.15 THE CHASER (2h03) Directed by Na Hong-jin

SUN 18th MAY
13.00 – 19.00 INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2h03) Directed by Steven Spielberg

MON 19th MAY

TUE 20th MAY
23.30 MARADONA BY KUSTURICA (1h30) Directed by Emir Kusturica

WED 21st MAY
23.45 SURVEILLANCE (1h38) Directed by Jennifer Lynch

SAT 24th MAY
11.30 – 22.30 THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (2h00) Directed by Kim Jee-woon

> Download the official screenings schedule as a PDF file

Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008 Preview: Films Out of Competition

The out of competition films screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival include some of the more high profile premieres.

Red Carpet at the Palais


Here is a guide to the big films screening out of competition, which means they are not competing for the Palme d’Or and are basically ‘prestige’ premieres.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Dir. Steven Spielberg): The biggest major studio release of the year gets a high profile premiere, with Steven Spielberg bringing a film to the festival for the first time since The Color Purple in 1985.

All eyes around the world will eagerly be awaiting how this installment will fit in with the original trilogy. Plot details have been kept under wraps, but according to the offficial plot sypnopsis at the festival site it begins in 1957 at the height of the Cold War and involves Indy battling Russian agents as he searches for the Crystal Skull of Akator in Peru.

Harrison Ford returns as the famous archaeologist and the supporting cast includes Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and Karen Allen.

It is bound to be a huge hit worldwide, but the big question is whether or not it can please the older, more demading audiences that loved the original trilogy. All eyes will be on the reports coming out of the press screening which happens a few hours before the official premiere. (Screening: Sunday 18th May)

Kung Fu Panda (Dir. Mark Osborne and John Stevenson): The new animated film from DreamWorks Animation is about a panda (voiced by Jack Black) who learns martial arts to fight his enemies.

The film features a starry voice cast including the likes of Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and
Lucy Liu. Cannes has often been a place for DreamWorks to launch their tentpole releases like Shrek or Over the Hedge and this is expected to do similar business.

Maradona (Dir. Emir Kusturica): A documentary about the extraordinary life of Diego Maradona – the legendary Argentine footballer.

If the quality is good, this looks set to get interest from the wider media though the fact that the IMDb lists it as a 2006 film may be a cuase for concern. (Screens: Tuesday 20th May)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Dir. Woody Allen): The latest Woody Allen film is about two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who come to Barcelona for a summer holiday only to get invloved with a local painter (Javier Bardem).

Despite the fact that Allen’s recent films haven’t always even secured UK distribution, he is loved in France and the European setting of this film, as well as the solid cast, should ensure a lot of interest. (Screens: Saturday 17th May)

What Just Happened? (Dir. Barry Levinson): The closing night film is based on producer Art Linson’s memoir of the same name, this stars Robert De Niro as an ageing producer struggling to get his new moviein the crazy world of Hollywood.

Despite a solid cast with Bruce Willis and Sean Penn turning up in minor roles as themselves, this only seemed to get lukewarm reviews at Sundance back in January. That said the book it is based on is very funny indeed (especailly the chapter chrinicling the making of The Edge) so it could be a pleasant surprise. (Screens: Sunday 25th May)

Also screening out of competition are:

If you are in Cannes and get to see any of these films then you can leave comments below.

> Official site for the Cannes Film Festival
> Our guide to the history and significance of the festival from last year
> Download the official screenings schedule as a PDF file

Cannes Festivals News

Cannes in a Van

Last year three people armed with a projector and a van brought new meaning to the term ‘guerrilla cinema’ when they screened films at Cannes from their van.

This year they are back and their aim is to give exposure to lesser known films and filmmakers whilst out in Cannes.

As they put it:

Every film has a creator who is undeniably committed to what they are doing, committed to their obsession.

Maybe their goal is to make a personal film about something close to their heart, maybe they have a bigger picture, maybe their career is in film.

One thing is for sure – some of them you will know about in 10 years, some will win Oscars, Baftas, international awards. Some will change the publics’ consciousness.

Our aim is to give these films exposure. Where that exposure takes them is an unknown quantity, but it may just help them on their way.

We screen the best selection of short-films from the cream of independent filmmaking to a receptive, captive audience.

The crew this year consists of Andy, Cath, Stuart and Janus and you can follow their exploits at their blog or podcasts.

Check out this London Tonight report from last year’s festival:

Cannes in a Van on London Tonight

> Cannes in a Van official website
> Their video diary and blog
> Check out their videos form last year
> Find out more about the Cannes Film Festival here

Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008 Preview: Films in Competition

The 2008 Cannes Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and here are my pick of the films to look out for in competition for the Palme d’Or.

Big sign on Le Palais


Blindness (Dir. Fernando Meirelles): An adaptation of José Saramago’s 1995 novel about about an epidemic of blindness in a modern city, it stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover and Gael García Bernal.

Hotly anticipated because it has an excellent cast, is based on a Nobel prize winning novel and is directed by the man who brought us City of God and The Constant Gardener. (Screens: Wednesday 14th May)

Un conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale) (Dir. Arnaud Desplechin): The latest film from the director of Kings and Queen is a family drama starring Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric.

The presence of a screen legend like Deneuve and the rising star of Amalric (who will be seen later this year as the new Bond villain in Quantum of Solace) will make this a high profile French entry. (Screens: Friday 16th May)

Linha de Passe (Dir. Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas): The new film from the director of The Motorcycle Diaries is about four brothers from a poor family in Sao Paolo struggling to find a better life.

Although 2005’s Dark Water was an unproductive attempt to bring his sensibility to a Hollywood film, Salles is always a director worth looking out for and this looks like a return to what he does best. (Screens: Saturday 17th May)

Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna’s Silence) (Dir. Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne): The new film from the Belgian brothers is about a young Albanian woman living in Belgium who becomes an accomplice to a local mobster’s plan.

The Belgian duo have achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Palme d’Or twice (with Rosetta in 1999 and L’Enfant in 2005) so all eyes will be on whether this can match the heights of those films. (Screens: Monday 19th May)

Two Lovers (Dir. James Gray): Set in Brooklyn, this is a romantic drama about a bachelor (Joaquin Phoenix) who is torn between two women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw).

Director James Gray is something of a favourite with Cannes, as he was here in competition just last year with We Own the Night. The star power of Phoenix, Paltrow and Isabella Rossellini should ensure interest in this one. (Screens: Monday 19th May)

Changeling (Dir: Clint Eastwood): The new film from Clint Eastwood is set in LA in 1928 and stars Angelina Jolie as a woman whose young son goes missing. When the child is found months later, she suspects it might not be him.

If Clint can deliver the goods you would have to say this is a hot favourite to snag the Palme d’Or – the veteran actor/director has long been a favourite at the festival (with films like Pale Rider, White Hunter Black Heart and Mystic River all playing in official competition) but has never won the big prize. The star power of Jolie in the lead role will also ensure huge press interest. (Screens: Tuesday 20th May)

Che (The Argentine / Guerrilla) (Dir: Steven Soderbergh): Possibly the most anticipated and ambitious film due to be shown at Cannes this year, director Steven Soderbergh will screen his two films about Che Guevera (played by Benicio del Toro) back-to-back.

The first one is called The Argentine and will focus on the Cuban revolution, as Fidel Castro, Guevara  and other revolutionaries topple the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The second film is called Guerrilla and focuses on the years after the Cuban revolution with Che’s trip to the UN in 1964, until his death in the Bolivian mountains in 1967. (Screens: Weds 21st May)

Adoration (Dir. Atom Egoyan): The new film from Canadian director Atom Egoyan is about a young man obsessed with the idea that he is the spawn of two historical figures.

It stars Devon Bostick, Rachel Blanchard and Scott Speedman. (Screens: Thursday 22nd May)

Synechdoche, New York (Dir. Charlie Kaufman): Another one of the most hotly anticipated films of the festival, this sees screenwriter Charlie Kaufman make his directorial debut.

It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theatre director in Schenectady, New York who has to cope with his wife leaving him and a mysterious illness. Worried about his life, he moves his theater company to a warehouse where he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York as part of his new play. Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton and Hope Davis co-star. (Screens: Friday 23rd May)

Palermo Shooting (Dir. Wim Wenders): The German veteran who won Best Director at Cannes in 1987 with Wings of Desire, returns with a new film about a German photographer (played by Campino) who comes to Palermo because he needs to escape his past.

Although Wenders’ output has been a little inconsistent of late (Don’t Come Knocking, which screened at the festival in 2005, was a huge disappointent) some will be keen to see if the magic of his earlier work can return. (Screens: Saturday 24th May)

The other films screening in competition are:

The jury at Cannes this year features:

It is notoriously hard to predict who will win the big prize but the major contenders would appear to be Blindness, Changeling, Che, Lorna’s Silence and Synechdoche, New York.

If you are at the festival or have any thoughts then do leave a comment below.

> Official site for the Cannes Film Festival and the full list of films competing in the official selection
> Our guide to the history and significance of the festival from last year
> See a past list of Palme d’Or winners at Wikipedia

Cannes Festivals News

Cannes 2008 lineup announced

This year’s Cannes Film Festival lineup has been announced.

Destination Cannes

The films in official competition are:

The big films showing out of competition are:

Variety have a comprehensive list of all the films showing here.

> Official site for the festival
> A Guide to the Cannes film festival from last year

Cannes Festivals News

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days wins the Palme D’Or

Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

A harrowing depiction of a woman (played by Anamaria Marinca) trying to help her friend get an abortion in Communist-era Romania, it was hotly tipped in a very strong field.

> IMDb entry for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
> BBC News report on the win

Cannes Festivals Interviews Short Films

Cannes Interview – Rob Johnson

The Short Film Corner is the area at the Cannes Film Festival where filmmakers who have made short films gather together.

Short Film Corner

Flyers for hundreds of short films adorn the walls as people try to get their work more exposure at the festival.

Filmmakers at Short Film Corner

Directors from all over the world submit films for inclusion in the Short Film Competition and to meet fellow directors.

Rob Johnson

It was there that I met Rob Johnson who has made a short called Sometimes the  Smallest Places.

We hooked up later at The Grand Hotel to discuss the film and his experience bringing it over to Cannes.

Listen to the interview here:


> Subscribe to the Interview Podcast via iTunes
> Download the interview as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)
> Check out the official website for Sometimes the Smallest Places
> The MySpace page for Sometimes the Smallest Places
> Official site for Short Film Corner

Cannes Interviews Podcast

Cannes Interview – John Adams

John Adams at CannesMany people in the film industry go to Cannes looking to meet up with people for future projects.

I caught up with John Adams who runs Universal Combat, a company that provides military advice for the film and TV industry.

In the past he has worked on projects like Band of Brothers, and more recently The Queen and The Mark of Cain.

I spoke with him about the business side of the festival and what he has been up to recently.

Listen to the interview here:


> Subscribe to the Interview Podcast via iTunes
> Download the interview as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)
> Visit the official site for Universal Combat
> John Adams entry at the IMDb
> Check out our previous interview with John back in January
> Visit the official website for Cowboys and Indians – the new feature film John is working on

Cannes Interviews

Cannes Interview – Anna Fiorentini

Anna FiorentiniAnna Fiorentini is one of the many people involved in the UK film & TV industry out at the Cannes Film Festival.

She runs two acting schools and spoke to us about her work and the Cannes experience this year.

Listen to the interview here:


> Subscribe to the Interview Podcast via iTunes
> Download the interview as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)
> Official website for The Anna Fiorentini Film and Theatre School

Cannes Podcast

The Cannes Report 2007

On this podcast we report from the Cannes Film Festival and discuss the films that have been making headlines.

The films covered include the new Wong kar-Wai film My Blueberry Nights which opened the festival, Michael Moore‘s latest documentary Sicko, Angelina Jolie’s new drama A Mighty Heart and Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof.

Plus we also discuss what might win the coveted Palme D’Or on Sunday.

Listen to the podcast here:


> Subscribe to our Review Podcast via iTunes
> Download this podcast as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)

Cannes News

A Mighty Heart screens at Cannes

A Mighty Heart is the new film starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, the widow of the late Daniel Pearl.

He was investigating a story about Islamic extremists in Pakistan for the Wall Street Journal and was murdered by militants in early 2002.

Jolie was in town for the press conference earlier today with the other lead actors and director Michael Winterbottom.

Angelina Jolie at the Mighty Heart press conference

Brad Pitt was also there (he was a producer on the film) alongside Winterbottom, actor Dan Futterman (who plays Daniel Pearl) and  Indian actor Irfan Khan who also stars.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the press conference was  when a Bloomberg TV journalist asked Marianne Pearl for forgiveness.

After Daniel’s death in 2002 he had probed her about whether she had seen the tape of her husband’s death that was released on the internet by his killers.

Nacy Tartaglione-Vialatte of the LA Times reports:

The usual sorts of questions were asked of Pitt and Jolie; some to do with acting and producing or their feelings about the film and of course the inevitable “What do you think of Cannes?” (Pitt said, “It doesn’t feel much different because we usually have a camera following us every day”), but no one was prepared when a Bloomberg TV journalist took the microphone.

“Hi, Mariane,” he said, to which she replied with a nod. “We meet again,” he added before going on to explain that he was in fact the reporter represented in the film who asks a controversial question. “What is in the film isn’t exactly what I said and I wish someone more handsome could have played me, like Brad. But, I wanted to ask you Mariane, would you forgive me?”

A hush fell over the room before Pearl said, “I accept your apology.”

The question had been, “Did you watch the tape?”

A Mighty Heart opens  in the US on June 22nd and in the UK on September 28th

> Official site for A Mighty Heart
> A Mighty Heart at the IMDb

Cannes Festivals News

Polanski walks out of press conference

The AP are reporting that Roman Polanski walked out of a press conference earlier today at Cannes.

He was talking about To Each His Own Cinema, a collection of short films from 30 illustrious directors from around the world.

They report:

Director Roman Polanski walked out of a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday after berating journalists for asking ’empty’ questions.

Polanski, whose film “The Pianist” won the top prize at Cannes in 2002, was onstage with nearly 30 major directors – from Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to Germany’s Wim Wenders to China’s Wong Kar-wai – who were showing short films in homage to cinema.

Apparently several questions focused on the future of cinema in the digital age and towards the end Polanski took the microphone and said:

“It’s a shame to have such poor questions, such empty questions. And I think that it’s really the computer which has brought you down to this level. You’re no longer interested in what’s going on in the cinema. Frankly, let’s all go and have lunch”.

None of the directors followed him and it is unclear what the director of Chinatown and The Pianist had to eat.

But here he is with his fellow directors at the photo call (he is on the front row to the left  wearing a white jacket and jeans):

Photocall for To Each His Own Cinema

> AP story via Guardian Film
> Roman Polanski at the IMDb

Cannes Festivals

A Guide to the Cannes Film Festival

For those of you unfamiliar, the Cannes Film Festival is the biggest and most important in the world.

Although Toronto, Berlin, Venice and Sundance are all important in their own right, nothing can quite match Cannes for the glamour, deals and networking.

Le Palais Du Cinema

It is estimated that between three to four thousand journalists attend every year, which probably makes it the most covered annual event in the world (the Olympics gets more, but that is every four years).

Although its roots remain in the film competition that culminates in a big awards ceremony, it has grown over the years into the most important marketplace for the film industry.

Filmmakers, distributors, sales agents and other people from all over the world meet up here every year to show their films, cut deals and make contacts for future projects.

So, if you are not familiar with the festival here is a guide to the history and importance of the festival.


The first ever Cannes Film Festival started in September 1939, but World War II and the not inconsiderable business of Nazis invading France got in the way of things.

It was only years later during the 1950s that it revived itself and gradually started to become what it is today. In 1955, the Palme d’Or was introduced as a prize and was won by the US drama Marty.

Coincidentally, that film also won the Best Picture Oscar and to date it is the only time that a film has won both – perhaps a sign of just how different tastes still can be on each side of the Atlantic.

White Tents on the beach


With the scenic backdrop of the Cote d’Azur in late May and stars like Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly making celebrated appearances, the festival soon became established as the most high profile in the world.


Despite the glitz, glamour and business surrounding it, the core of the actual film festival is about films from around the world getting screened and competing for recognition from an international jury.

The Red Carpet at the Palais

There are several sections to this side of the Festival: In Competition, Out of Competition, Un Certain Regard, Cinefondation,Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight. The most important strand of these are the films screening In Competition as they are all up for the coveted Palme d’Or prize.

Usually around 20 films are entered each year each year and victory can significantly boost the profile of a film and guarantee it distribution around the world.

Sometimes it can help launch a career such as Steven Soderbergh (who won in 1989 for Sex, Lies and Videotape) or Quentin Tarantino (who upset the odds in 1994 by winning for Pulp Fiction).

It might also give exposure to smaller and more artistic fare like L’Enfant, which scooped the prize in 2005 for the Belgian film making pair, the Dardenne Brothers.

At other times it can propel a film into a global news story, which was the case in 2004, when Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which won and went on to unlikely success at the global box office.

Whilst the films in the official competition get the red carpet treatment and a crack at the Palme d’Or, many other films come to the festival to screen out of competition.

They are here essentially for the exposure the festival provides. Some films will be looking for a distributor in a certain territory, some big Hollywood style films will be here to use Cannes as a launch pad for their European release, whilst others are just here hoping to make waves at such a huge festival.

In recent years huge blockbusters like Star Wars Episode III and The Da Vinci Code have had high profile ‘out of competition’ screenings. Reaction has been decidedly mixed as true cineastes feel the Festival proper gets tainted by such overtly commercial films.

However, the festival organisers (though wary of being mere stooges to Hollywood) know that the presence of big stars helps keep the status of Cannes in the news and could even help shine a light on the more uncommercial films screening here.


The other strands of the festival include Un Certain Regard which was set up in the late 70s to showcase more world cinema and to absorb smaller aspects of the festival. Although there are no prizes it is still a prominent strand to showcase films.

The french have a great tradition of film criticism with publications like Cahiers Du Cinema and Critics’ Week was founded way back in 1962. Run by the Union of French Film Critics, films in this section compete for the Grand Prix and it has often given new filmmakers their first taste of the limelight.

Directors’ Fortnight was established in 1968 after the famous strikes all over France that year shut down the festival. Features and shorts are shown together and it can often be the place to find a hidden gem away from the glare of the main competition.

Cinefondation came in to being in 1998 as a program to help young film makers. It shows several films selected by from all around the world and has its own jury which select three awards for the best films.


Gradually the exposure of the film festival led to the growth of the business side of Cannes. Almost anyone of note in the film world comes to town to network and do deals of various shapes and sizes.

The Marche du Film (or “The Film Market“) is the largest event of its kind in the world and it is where films and projects in development are pitched, bought and sold. For distributors and sales agents from around the world it is a vital place to meet as key rights in different territories are traded.

Marche Du Film

Although differing levels of business is done at other film festivals around the world, Cannes is unique in terms of its scale and importance.

The Marche is based next to the Palais du Festivals (the central venue where films are screened) and market screenings are held in smaller rooms within the same complex that also shows the bigger films in competition.

The business action also spreads out all over town as meetings are held on boats in The Old Port, hotels like The Grand (where many film companies book entire suites throughout the festival) and The International Village which is a series of small white pavilions situated on the beach near the Palais and stretches along the seafront of Cannes.The American Pavilion

Many countries from all over the world have their small bases here. Delegates attend seminars, interviews and meetings during the day and later on they often hold drinks and receptions to promote various aspects of their country’s film industry.

I’ll be posting more photos and interviews from the festival but in the meantime check out the links below to find out more.

> Official site for the Cannes Film Festival
> Wikipedia entry for this year’s Cannes Film Festival
> A Beginner’s Guide to Surviving Cannes
> IMDb entry for The Cannes Film Festival
> Tales of Cannes from previous years

Cannes Cinema Interviews Podcast

Jake Gyllenhaal on Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal returns to UK screens this week in Zodiac, the terrific new drama directed by David Fincher, which is about the Zodiac killings that took place in San Francisco in the late 1960s.

Jake plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle who becomes obsessed with the case and tries to solve the puzzles and cyphers the serial killer uses to taunt the police with.

I spoke to him recently about his role and what it was like working with Fincher.

You can listen to the interview here: [audio:]

> Subscribe to the Interview Podcast via iTunes
> Download the interview as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)
> Find showtimes for Zodiac at your loacl cinema via Google Movies
> Find out more about the real life Zodiac killings at Wikipedia
> IMDb entry for Zodiac

[Image courtesy of Warner Bros.]