ACIDEMIC Journal of Film and Media

Cannes 2004 Report
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REPORT FROM CANNES 2004

 

Severine Benzimra

Acidemic Francais

 

 

The 57th Cannes Festival ended, May 23, on bitter-sweet notes. The misunderstanding between France and the USA is growing and expanding onto new fields.

 

France is very proud of this international festival, which it has held for 58 years; proud of selections that have allowed people to discover a vast quantity of foreign movies and young directors, contributing to the evolution of cinema around the world; proud of the system of a small independent jury; proud of the interest it raised among intellectuals and professionals. Proud of being, for all these reasons, the first European festival of cinema, before Berlin, Locarno, Venise.

 

Concerning we proud cinema lovers who followed the festival through specialized press, excited, impatient – an explanation may appear necessary to our North-American readers. The movies presented at the festival are not screened in advance to anyone. Sent directly by producers or directors, they can only be seen by the team that makes the selection. They are presented twice during the festival, the first presentation being a kind of repetition, to the jury and accredited journalists. The public will discover them later – from the day after to the end of the year, if they are distributed in theaters. This is the reason why TV channels and radios dedicate special programs to the festival, or why papers and reviews edit special issues.

 

All the proud cinema lovers who followed the festival through specialized press were excited, impatient, for the selection looked great and Americans were back, after times of boycott and terrorism-related cancellations, but they were soon turned from gaiety to anxiousness then to disappointment then to anger. Of course the author of these lines might share and contribute to the too common confusion made between French cinema lovers on one side, and on the other, writers/readers of the analysis published by Le Monde, Les Cahiers du Cinema or/and Positif. L’erreur est humaine.

 

Anger! Anger? Yes, anger.

 

French cinema lovers consider that the Americans they welcomed with such relief stole the festival from the rest of the world. Far from expecting that a French movie would win, they expected their idea of cinema as a transcending, universal art, would direct the jury’s deliberations. It didn’t; this itself is a cause for disappointment. The causes of anger are, firstly, that the jury considered Michael Moore’s last opus as an important addition to the art of cinema, or considered his fight important enough for the world, or considered the USA’s electoral issues important enough to receive a major promotion. Secondly, that the welcomed guests felt authorized to apply their own rules to the organization of the final evening. Quentin Tarantino decided there would be another projection of Fahrenheit 9/11 for the members of the jury, while the festival had made itself a rule of not promoting any movie, the selection and the awards being sufficient labels. Even worse was the way the MGM organized the closure party the authorities of the festival had “offered” it to celebrate its 80th anniversary. Each guest received at the entrance a pin corresponding to his presumed social position, and security agents ensured that lower, middle and higher-class members wouldn’t mix. A blasphemy, considering the Festival aims to cultural and professional exchange.

 

What will remain from this may be a suspicion toward American personalities that used to be respected. Quentin Tarantino lied. He opened the Festival claiming his love for cinema, illustrated this love with Kill Bill Vol.2 during the festival, and he closed the festival claiming before journalists that Michael Moore’s documentary was an art work. Everyone noticed then that Fahrenheit 9/11 was produced by Miramax, who also produce Tarantino’s movies… Michael Moore was no more the sympathetic detective following a track he looked like with, let’s say, Roger and Me but a predicator shouting evidences and anathema. Ladykillers, by the Coen Brothers--just like Shrek --consecrated the triumph of Hollywoodian political correctness and mercantilism, over (once) original voices. And there was no bewitching, bewildering actress like Sharon Stone, to lighten the French bad moods on this 57th Festival.

c. 2004 Acidemic Journal of Film & Media

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