Glitz and glam: Cannes opens to fitting ‘The Great Gatsby’

The Australian director's adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel starring Leonardo DiCaprio surprised some Hollywood insiders, because Cannes traditionally launches on the palm-lined French Riviera with a splashy world premiere.

But The Great Gatsby has already opened in the United States to mixed reviews and solid box office, potentially dampening buzz surrounding the start of 12 days of screenings, champagne-fuelled parties and dealmaking.

Stars expected to face a phalanx of flash bulbs along the red carpet include Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson and Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan.

Their pictures will undergo one of the most gruelling tests in movie making – pleasing Cannes' notoriously picky critics who regularly boo as the credits roll if they are unhappy.

And behind the scenes at the event, up to 40 000 film professionals will be seeking to buy and sell the next box-office hit at the most important movie market of the year.


"This is the hardest 10 days of the year for me. There are always three or four movies that are exceptional and you have to find them so it is a detective job," said Tom Bernard, co-president and cofounder of Sony Pictures Classics.

Critics have praised the selection of films being screened at the 66th Cannes festival, saying it is a strong, well-curated list ranging from hotly-anticipated potential crowd pleasers to beautifully-crafted, artistic cinema.

Strong US showing
American directors have their biggest showing in six years in the main competition at Cannes, making up five of 20 films vying for the coveted Palme D'Or for best picture awarded by a jury headed by Steven Spielberg on the final day, May 26.

Steven Soderbergh's Behind The Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas as the gay pianist Liberace and Matt Damon, as his young lover, is already generating huge interest, particularly as Soderbergh has hinted that this could be his last movie.

Also in focus is Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis about New York's gritty 1960s folk music scene, James Gray's The Immigrant, Jim Jarmusch's vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive, and Alexander Payne's Nebraska.

French filmmakers are also well represented with five films in the main competition, including Roman Polanski's French-language La Venus a la Fourrure (Venus in Fur), a backstage drama starring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner.

Two Japanese movies are in the running and one each from China, Chad, Mexico, Iran, Tunisia, Italy and the Netherlands while Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives with Ryan Gosling in a Thai gangland thriller is creating buzz.

Critics have earmarked Le Passé by Iran's Asghar Farhadi and Like Father, Like Son by leading Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda as strong domestic dramas. Farhadi won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 2012 for A Separation.

'Keen buyers at Cannes'
Despite criticism of an all-male lineup last year, only one woman director has made the 2013 competition. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni, is in the field with Un Château en Italie.

The sidebar section, Un Certain Regard, set up to recognise young filmmakers, will feature 19 films including The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola starring Harry Potter actress Emma Watson about a real-life gang stealing from celebrities' homes.

"It is a strong line-up this year looking at the names of the directors, especially those in competition," said Wendy Mitchell, editor of the magazine Screen International.

"There are some very sellable films this year and the fact that business was down at the Berlin festival [in February] usually means that there will be keen buyers at Cannes."

Out of competition, hundreds of films will be shown in special sessions while 4 000 or so films, many yet to be made, will be haggled over in meetings along the Croisette, the resort's chic promenade, or on extravagant yachts moored nearby.

Patrick Wachsberger, co-chairperson of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said he never had time to go to screenings but used Cannes to build buzz for new films including the second and third Hunger Games movies that start shooting later this year.

"You meet with distributors every 30 minutes and it really [is] like going to the dentist," said Wachsberger. "The business seems more complicated than it used to be and a bit more frantic but the money at stake is higher and it's a bigger gamble."  – Reuters

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.

Related stories

There are useful lessons to learn from the generation of the 1986 emergency

The parents of the 2020 crisis have little say about their children’s education

Miss Rona’s teaching the 4IR lessons

Schooling is stuck in the 1950s, but technology must be blended with the basics of education

Caring for students goes beyond the teaching project

The Covid-19 pandemic gives universities an opportunity to find new ways of ensuring the health and well-being of students

Teachers trying to catch up, ‘ticking boxes’, overloading learners

Teachers who spoke to the Mail & Guardian this week are not confident that any effective teaching and learning will take place during this academic year, even if it is extended

Scores die in Western Cape’s deadly taxi tit-for-tat

Forty-three people were shot dead in the first six months of this year in the Western Cape’s intractable taxi violence, while close to 100 have been arrested and 40 are on court rolls in connection with the conflict

Covid-19 is taking its toll on people’s state of mind

The future is uncertain, and the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression is rising
Advertising

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday