A Volatile and Vulnerable Global Film Market Gathers at Cannes, 2018
One felt the absence of Hollywood and the presence of Harvey Weinstein
July 7, 2018
Lights, Camera, Action!!! Usher in the most prestigious film festival in the world- the 71st Cannes Film Festival.
Except that this year something was very different. There was no Hollywood in attendance. No stars, no glamour, no Weinstein Company. Possibly in the 71 years of the festival, never has there been a quieter festival and market.
Journalists, cinema lovers and industry folks would agree that this was a very bizarre year indeed. Something was missing.
The reasons could be several. Perhaps a combination of many coming together. The me too movement, keeping an on the "Usual suspects" at bay. No inclusion of Harvey Weinstein resulting in no grand parties or movie launches.
This year also marked the first year that selfies on the red carpet were banned. Festival director Thierry Fermaux famously quoted " You don't come to Cannes to see yourselves, you come to see movies,... and in a selfie people always look really ugly".
If anything, it felt like it was more of a French festival or a European film festival, more akin to Berlinale. It was business as usual for the European film industry, typical Cannes; buying and selling titles, having soirees, the red carpet and enjoying the croisette. On the face of it, one may not have felt the absence of Hollywood this year.
The movies that made their way into the official competition section of the festival were unique as well. The opening night movie was Spanish movie "Everybody knows" directed by famed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi.
The USA's entrants included "Under the Silver lake", "The house the Jack built" directed by Lars Von Trier starring Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon, Fahrenheit 451, Blackkklansman directed by former Cannes winner Spike Lee.
This year's theme felt like it cast a spotlight on the plight of the marginalized parts of our society. Movies like "Yomeddine" directed by Egyptian filmmaker A.B Shawky. As well as Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" and Nadine Labaki's "Capernaum". Capernaum is breaking all the norms being a female made movie with the potential to connect to global masses. Other mentions include "At war by Stephane Brize, "Ayka" by Sergie Dvortsevoy, "Cold war" by Pawel pawlikowski and Dogman by Matteo Garrone.
There were several European and Asian movies in the Uncertain Regard, Directors Fortnight, Critics' Week and Special Screenings, including Midnight Screenings. It was a diverse, cinematic array or interesting movies, each with its own point of view and message.
As a surprising twist, the Star Wars franchise was the headliner this year with SOLO-A Star Wars Story having its international premiere. Directed by Ron Howard, the movie was out of competition but had an impressive premiere nonetheless. The closing night movie was "The Man who killed Don Quixote" by famed director Terry Gilliam.
But in the end it was a Japanese movie that took home the big prize. Veteran Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-ad's "Shofplifters" took home the Palm Do'r this year. It was great to see such a human and touching story about love and sacrifice that took the top honors.
As a gesture to the "#Metoo" movement, it was apt that Cate Blanchett was the president of the jury. It was a nice touch to a very volatile and vulnerable period currently both in the world as well as in the Global film industry.
The parties seemed more mellow, business in the market section felt quieter than usual and it was evident that there was a lack of real star power or big money this year. It will be very interesting to see what unfolds next year at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival and the years to come. Is this just a one- off hiccup or the beginning or a new direction for the festival? The French Rivera never disappoints with its glorious weather, great restaurants and charming residents.
No doubt everyone in attendance enjoyed their quintessential 2-week workaction. It remains to be seen the future of the glorious festival and we hope that It continues to shine light on great cinematic pieces of art and the wonderful experience that is the Cannes Film Festival.