Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In a little town by the sea . . .

Apologies for my absence. I, Adam, destroyer of worlds and recovering slacker, resolve to post much more frequently.

Ah, Cannes, sweet Cannes, the time has come again! Every May, I turn my attention here and here. For the next 12 days, my body will be at work, at home, and about town, but my heart will be in France at the Cannes Film Festival. Sadly, I’ve never been able to attend in person, although one day that’s going to change, and is a fact that you could bet Vegas money on the level of the certainty of death and 5 more celebrity relationships to go south before finishing this lovely read. Strange? I think not.

Out of all of the film festivals I can think of, with the exception of A Pilgrimage, (which remains one of the best ideas in recent memory) Cannes is the one that I look at with the most respect. It serves as a major influence upon my own plans as to which films I resolve to see in the coming year. Quite simply, Cannes plays the types of films I like to watch.

In some ways, the winner of the Palme d’Or could be considered to be a more valid title-holder than the film awarded Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Think about it for a moment. The Academy tends to recognize films that are in English and funded/released by a major American studio. Of course, having big names in the cast doesn’t hurt a film’s chances either. On the other hand, the field at Cannes is nothing if not multinational, tends to be much edgier than the Academy’s nominees, and isn’t based nearly so much on sadly misguided notions of hierarchy within the film industry. Think that the Academy’s decision to start nominating 10 films for its top prize is a good one? This year, Cannes is screening 18 films in competition, and I wouldn't dream of trying to handicap the race.

Additionally, the festival allows for a much different type of selection process. Instead of a vote put to a membership of over 6,000 members, the winners at Cannes are decided by a 9 member jury. And what a jury! This year, the jury’s president is Tim Burton and is rounded out by Kate Beckinsale, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Alberto Barbera, Emmanuel Carrere, Benicio del Toro, Victor Erice, Shekhar Kapur, and Alexandre Desplat.

Think for a minute. If you look at the last couple of films that have won the top prize at Cannes, how many have you seen? How many have you even heard of? If we wanted to dig even deeper, how about the films in competition for the past 5 years? That list contains films from some of the most talented artists at work in film today, and the so-called “mainstream” is largely oblivious to it.

I think I’ll keep puttering around in my little stream, thank you very much.


Adam Zanzie said...

The only recent Palm d'Or winner I've seen that immediately comes to mind is Fahrenheit 9/11. How sad...

I know Godard's latest will be premiering at Cannes this year. Hopefully Socialisme is worth the six-year wait.

Adam said...

I'd definitely recommend you see 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and l'Enfant. The Mungiu film, in particular, is one of the single best films I've seen in years.

Here's hoping that Godard nails it to the wall with Socialisme. I'm not terribly familiar with his work, but I understand modern-day Godard can be a mixed-bag.