Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Some Festival News
As expected festival organizers started to announce news drop-by-drop which obviously increases daily interest in the festival. Among the news the one that generated major buzz is Monica Bellucci named the festival ceremonies host as we will have the pleasure of watching her in the opening and the closing ceremonies and no doubt that will be more refreshing -and more elegant- than last year's fiasco with Lafitte.
Most blog regulars know how much I like Bellucci and it's a fact that I have seen almost all films in which she has performed: the good, the bad and yes, the ugly! So, no doubt I will enjoy a bit more the ceremonies as like many of us, definitively enjoy to watch beauty.
More interesting for me are today news as one of my favorite contemporary directors has been named President of Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury! Outstanding master filmmaker Cristian Mungiu will preside over a jury that will have to watch lots of short films in both festival sections. The director, screenwriter and producer follows in the footsteps of Naomi Kawase, Abderrahmane Sissako, Abbas Kiarostami and Jane Campion.
As an eminent representative of the Romanian New Wave, Cristian Mungiu enjoys a long and glittering history with the Festival. Having won the Palme with his astounding second feature film, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, he went on to garner the Best Screenplay and Best Actress prizes for Beyond the Hills and the Best Director prize for Graduation.
"Cristian Mungiu is a glorious member of that Romanian school showcased by Thierry Frémaux in the 2000s", says Gilles Jacob, President of the Cinéfondation. "Just to look at the intelligence and interactive ramifications of a screenplay like Graduation is to understand that Cristian is the dream examiner for the big Festival exam – the Cinéfondation and the short films. I wonder who will pass? Good luck to all the candidates!"
For his part, Cristian Mungiu’s first reaction was to say: "Value and originality have never achieved easy recognition in the cinema. And it’s even harder to recognize the value and originality of very young directors. But the Cinéfondation is known for having succeeded in doing just that to great effect. The Cinéfondation has always given young directors the help and recognition they needed at the very outset of their career, so that they could express themselves with courage and find their own voice. Long may that continue to achieve the same impact. It’s an endeavor in which I’m proud to be playing a part."
Let's recall that short films usually identify potential filmmakers of the future and to point out those that will stand this year will for sure be no easy task. Great!
As you can see in above photographs the probable graphic identity for this milestone festival edition will be clean and simple. Some are already praising the graphics, me hope for more celebratory graphic identity as believe should represent what 70 years of the film festival has been to the industry, the cinema world and we, the film audience. Sigh. Believe that next "drop" has to be the festival poster and hope comes before the end of the week.
The 56th edition of La Semaine de la Critique celebrates Brazilian cinema by inviting Kleber Mendonça Filho, to be the President of the jury. As a parallel section dedicated to revealing emerging talents, La Semaine de la Critique is happy to welcome the frontrunner of the new generation of Brazilian filmmakers arising on the international scene.
La Semaine de la Critique has chosen him to give the Nespresso Grand Prize and the France 4 Visionary Award to one of the 7 feature films competing, as well as the Leica Cine Discovery Prize to one of the 10 short films. In order to carry out the mission of this jury, he will be joined by Diana Bustamante Escobar (producer and artistic director of the Cartagena Film Festival, Colombia), Eric Kohn (chief film critic and deputy-editor for Indiewire, USA), Hania Mroué (director of Metropolis Art Cinema, Lebanon) and Niels Schneider (actor, César Award for Best Male Newcomer, France).
Now let's go back to French cinema and my wish list for this festival edition. As a huge art-lover I'm always interested in French art masters bio films, unfortunately not all films are as good as what the artist art is but there are some exceptions and the one that comes to my mind is the recent Renoir that was an acceptable film about a father and a son with the famous last name. This year there are two French films, one about Rodin and another about Gauguin. If any of these films make it, then I'll be content as assures better-than-average film quality. Sigh. So let's start with them to continue with a few more French productions and their directors.
Jacques Doillon with Rodin
It is Doillon's 28th feature film and as we recall, he has been selected in competition at Berlin 4 times, at Venice also 4 times and twice on the Croisette; so, there are chances that film goes to Cannes or if not, will end-up in Venice for sure.
Written by Doillon the script sees a 42-year-old Rodin meet Camille Claudel, a young woman desperate to become his assistant. He quickly acknowledges her as his most able pupil, and treats her as an equal in matters of creation. More than a decade of work and passionate engagement ensues. Countless break-ups are followed by just as many make-ups, until Camille decides to break up definitively, something from which she will never recover, and from which Rodin himself will emerge deeply wounded. The film also recounts the artist's numerous affairs with assistants and models, as well as his relationship with Rose Beuret, his lifelong partner. We discover Rodin as an erotically charged sensualist, for whom art is a profoundly sexual delight – a sculptor of flesh in movement, who gives life to the very stone itself.
Vincent Lindon plays Auguste Rodin and Izia Higlin, Camile Claudel. Plot makes me recall two French films, 1988 Camille Claudel with Isabelle Adjani in the lead role and Gérard Depardieu as Rodin plus 2013 Camille Claudel 1915 with Juliette Binoche as the lead; both films are remarkable, so let's hope that Doillon's version ,which is centered in Rodin and not Claudel, will bring something new and outstanding.
It's a Belgium-France co production with Les Films du Ledemain, Wild Bunch, France 3 Cinéma and Artémis Productions as the production companies plus Wild Bunch also handling the international sales. Rights have been bought in advance by Canal+ and Cine+.
Edouard Deluc with Gauguin
Not very familiar with director, but have seen his debut feature film 2012 Welcome to Argentina which to me style speaks more about Latin American cinema than what French cinema could be. It is Deluc's second feature film. Nevertheless will not deny that film attracts me more for the actor that plays the famous French painter, Vincent Cassel; so, maybe film is here not for the right reasons.
Still there is positive potential in the story as centers on his Polynesian period where his most famous paitings are done and where he abandons the European moral codes. Check the synopsis in French: 1891. Gauguin s’exile à Tahiti. Il veut trouver sa peinture, en homme libre, en sauvage, loin des codes moraux, politiques et esthétiques de l’Europe civilisée. Il s’enfonce dans la jungle, bravant la solitude, la pauvreté, la maladie. Il y rencontrera Tehura, qui deviendra sa femme, et le sujet de ses plus grandes toiles. Script writers are Deluc, Thomas Lilti, Etienne Comar in collaboration with Sarah Kamisky, a group of talented directors/screenwriters that also could make film to stand above average. Summary in English: the script begins in 1890. In order to break away from Western civilization, Paul Gauguin has exiled himself in Polynesia, where he meets Tehura, his partner, with whom he falls madly in love and who will inspire a number of his major pieces. A quest for the absolute and for freedom...
Film is also known as Noa Noa, Paul Gauguin, Voyage de Tahiti and has a release date in France for September 27, 2017; was produced by Move Movie with co production agreements with StudioCanal and US Cohen Media Group -who will handle US film release- and international sales by StudioCanal. Has been pre-purchased by Canal+ and Cine+.
Laurent Cantet with L'Atelier (The Workshop)
Cantet is back in France with a drama starring Marina Foïs and a script co-written with his regular Robin Campillo, a film that seems to have big chances to end-up in Cannes where he already won the Palme d'Or for his 2008 Entre les murs.
Synopsis: La Ciotat, the South of France, summer. Antoine has agreed to attend a writing workshop in which a few young people have to write a crime thriller with the help of Olivia, a famous novelist. The writing process will recall the town's industrial past, a form of nostalgia that doesn't interest Antoine. More concerned with the fears of the modern world, the young man soon clashes with the group and Olivia, who will be both alarmed and captivated by Antoine's violence.
Not sure if film has what it needs to be in a major festival but know that the best qualification comes from the director, so have to assume that film has possibilities for Cannes and if not, then has to be Venice.
Film was produced by Archipel 35/Archipel 33 in co production with France 2 Cinéma, Canal+ and Ciné+. International sales by Films Distribution.
Serge Bozon with Madame Hyde (Mrs. Hyde)
Bozon has been twice in Cannes Directors' Fortnight so his third feature film Mrs. Hyde has chances to premiere in Cannes and perhaps now to be part of the Official Selection as even when film is inspired by that Doctor (Jekyll) and that Mr. (Hyde) has a possible great twist with the Mrs. especially when she is played by none other than Isabelle Huppert!
Written by Bozon and Axelle Ropert, story centers around Mrs. Géquil, an eccentric teacher who is despised by her colleagues and her students. One stormy night, she is struck by lightning and faints. When she comes to, she feels completely different… but will Mrs. Géquil be able to control the powerful and dangerous Mrs. Hyde who also now lives inside her?
No need to say that I see everything with Huppert as many blog readers know, but of course I'm very curious about this version of the classic tale and can't wait to be able to see film, sigh (will be a long wait-lol).
Produced by Les Films Pelléas and co-produced by Arte France Cinéma, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, and Belgian Frakas Productions. Pre-purchased by Canal+ and Ciné+, the film is also being supported by the CNC, the Île-de-France region and the Cinémage and Indéfilms SOFICAS. International sales handled by MK2.
Michaël R. Roskam with Le Fidèle (Racer and the Jailbird)
After his first feature film, Academy Award nominated Bullhead, director went to America to film inconsequential The Drop; now returns to his roots with a film starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos and a compelling story that seems could be as violent as his first. Roskam has never been in Cannes, Bullhead premiered in Berlin, but somehow believe this film has the right credentials to become his first visit to Cannes, perhaps in the Official Selection or in the Directors' Fortnight.
Synopsis: Set against the background of a brutal crime gang in Brussels, a tragic love story between Gigi, a high-flying gangster, and Bibi, a young racing driver with very upper-class roots. When Gino Gigi meets Bénédicte Bibi at the racetrack, it’s love at first sight. But very soon fate pulls them apart. Fierce and loyal, Gigi and Bibi are forced to fight for their love against reason and their own weakness. But how far can endurance be stretched? How far can they go to try and save what may already be lost?
Film genre has been labeled as Amour Noir which yes, tickles my imagination and raises expectations but the like Schoenaerts performances, at least more than Exarchopoulos performances -with the obvious exception of the Blue movie-.
Produced by Savage Film and co produced by Eyeworks (Belgium), Stone Angels (France), Kaap Holland (Netherlands), Submarine (Netherlands), Frakas Productions (Belgium) and RTBF. American Neon has pre-bought the North American rights from Wild Bunch that handles international sales. Soon enough will find if film is majority or minority French, but for now will keep film in this segment.
André Téchiné with Nos années folles (Our Roaring Twenties)
His 22nd feature film. Been 6 times in competition at Cannes where won Best Director in 1985; once in Venice and 3 times in Berlin. Most important for me, a great filmmaker with a body of work with outstanding films told with a very particular storytelling style and his (always) LGBT-interest subtle content. Will he be back to Cannes with this period drama? Let's hope so as story seems as compelling as what is told in most of his films.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, the plot revolves around newlyweds Paul and Louise, as World War I breaks out. After two years on the front-line, Paul maims himself and deserts his post. But how can he hide when he is condemned to death in war-torn Paris? Louise dresses him up as a woman. He becomes Suzanne, drags his wife around the debauched Paris of the Golden Twenties and earns quite a reputation for himself. In 1925, once he is finally granted amnesty, Suzanne attempts to revert back to being Paul…
Téchiné co-wrote the script with Cédric Anger, based on the book La Garçonne et l’assassin by Fabrice Virgili and Danièle Voldman. Film leads are two interesting young actors, Céline Sallette and Pierre Deladonchamps. Release date has been established for September 13, 2017 which gives an opportunity of an early premiere in Cannes or in Venice. Even do according to recent news, film seems will go more to Venice as production is scheduled to end this spring, Celluloid Dreams lists film as "Completed" so perhaps Cannes is still a possibility.
Production is by ARP Sélection and Celluloid Dreams has international sales. By-the-way Celluloid Dreams English title is Golden Years instead of above name.