Curtain raises on 65th Cannes Film Festival

Comedy will dominate the opening of the Cannes film festival, with Wes Anderson’s child fantasy Moonrise Kingdom in a tussle with Sacha Baron Cohen’s anarchic alter ego General Aladeen for the attention of the world’s media.

Thousands of journalists and movie executives are in the glamorous Riviera resort for 12 hectic days of screenings, red carpets, parties and dealmaking, and the first day is typical of the diary clashes they face.

Anderson’s film, starring Bruce Willis and Bill Murray, is the official opening entry in the main competition, ensuring a splashy launch with a press screening, news briefing, interviews and red carpet gala premiere on Wednesday evening.

Yet just a short stroll away along the famous palm-lined Croisette waterfront, Baron Cohen will also be muscling in on the action with a press conference of his own at the swanky Carlton Hotel to promote his latest picture The Dictator.

Judging by his outrageous sense of humour and eye for the theatrical, the British comic may steal much of the limelight as he adopts the character of Aladeen, a cruel North African dictator partly inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.


Amid the pranks and late night parties, however, there is plenty of hard work to be done, with a giant marketplace showcasing hundreds of films and hoping to defy the economic gloom across much of Europe with a spate of sales.

“The economic situation in Europe is not great, but does it mean that we have to forget the dream?” said Thierry Fremaux, general delegate of the festival. “The (economic) crisis is not the crisis of this year,” he said.

“It has been five years that we are in crisis here in Europe,” he added, speaking in English. “But we have to manage a way to give the people dreams and to say that even in the 1930s after the big crisis, cinema was in very good shape.”

Rising stars in the spotlight

Along the Croisette, last-minute preparations were underway on Tuesday as beach pavilions stocked up with champagne and lobster, promotional posters went up and stages were erected.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman are among established Hollywood names expected to grace the red carpet, where they will be joined by a long list of rising stars hoping to make their mark.

Cannes, as the world’s biggest and most glamorous film festival, is an ideal platform for a movie and its cast. Silent hit The Artist, which went on to sweep the Oscars, launched here last year.

But notoriously picky critics can also make life awkward for directors and actors, as with the 2006 world premiere of The Da Vinci Code which received poor reviews.

While grumpy cinephiles is an integral part of Cannes, organisers will be keen to avoid a repeat of last year when maverick director Lars Von Trier was controversially expelled for making jokes about Nazis at a press conference.

This year, the festival has come under fire for not including a single female director in its main competition lineup after four were selected in 2011. It has defended its decision, saying it would not impose a “quota policy”.

Despite the row, media reaction to this year’s lineup has been generally positive.

In the main competition of 22 films, Brazilian director Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road has generated plenty of buzz, not least because Twilight actress Kristen Stewart takes on a leading role.

Best known as Bella Swan from the vampire blockbusters, the 22-year-old American will be joined on the sun-kissed French Riviera by Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson.

The British actor appears in another competition movie Cosmopolis, directed by Canada’s David Cronenberg, a topical tale of corporate greed that follows a successful New York financier whose world disintegrates around him.

John Hillcoat’s movie Lawless, a Depression-era gangster tale, features Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska among others, underlining the importance of fresh acting talent at this year’s festival.

A grand legacy

Previous winners of the coveted Palme d’Or prize for best film who are in contention again are Austria’s Michael Haneke with Amour (Love), Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone In Love), Briton Ken Loach (The Angels’ Share) and Romanian Cristian Mungiu (Beyond the Hills).

Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey and Kidman all star in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and Pitt appears in Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly.

Hot topics on the big screen include the Arab uprisings, with Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah’s After the Battle in competition, and the pitfalls of celebrity culture in Antiviral, the debut feature from Cronenberg’s son Brandon.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Mike Collett White
Guest Author

Related stories

Cate Blanchett — 12th woman to head the Cannes festival jury

The double Oscar-winning actress was one of the first women to speak out against Weinstein, who faces claims of a string of sexual assaults and rapes

SA films at Cannes: From zombies to windpompe

We look at the eight South African films that are hoping to make a mark at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Sex on the beach: A brief history of Cannes and erotic cinema

Since the 1960s there has always been plenty of flesh at Cannes. As the red carpet is rolled out, Peter Bradshaw awards his own Palme Phwoar.

Entertainment news: SA films at Cannes, K Naomi & Omuhle’s awkward Twitter moment

From actor Terry Pheto making her producer debut at Cannes to a Twitter catfight and Prince's reaction to Freddie Gray's death, here's our round-up.

Argentinian revenge fantasy a hit at Cannes film festival

Director Damian Szifron's film "Relatos Salvajes" drew hoots and applause from critics in contrast to the tepid reaction to the Saint Laurent biopic.

Sochi Olympics kick off with a glitch before fairy tale show

One Olympic ring failed to unfurl but President Vladmir Putin nonetheless declared Russia's Winter Games open under a burst of fireworks.
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday