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Cannes blog: Cannes Film Festival Day 1

 

66th Cannes Film Festival Day 1 – The Great Gatsby and Opening Ceremonies

Leonardo DiCaprio at The Great Gatsby Cannes premiere - Photo courtesy of Anne-Christine Poujoulat (AFP)

Nearly 4,000 accredited journalists descend upon the city of Cannes for 11 days of cinema magic and what looks like heavy rain for the first few days.

The opening day of the 66th Cannes Film Festival surrounded festivities for the out of competition opening film – “The Great Gatsby”. At the press conference Baz Lurmann rather pompously explained how touching it was that an admirer came up to him after a screening and told him how her grandfather, the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, would have liked it. Ironically the book was written to make some quick money, said Luhrmann, who informed the press corps that more people had read the “The Great Gatsby in the week of the opening of the film than in Fitzgerald’s lifetime. Leonardo DiCaprio reminded Luhrmann of the context of the theatrical release was distinct from the virtues of the novel that Fitzgerald had hoped would be rewarded in his effort to write the “Great American Novel”.

The Cannes Film Festival opening gala dinner was held within the Electrolux Agora Pavilion for the third consecutive year. Guests, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan were treated to a four-course meal all cooked on Electrolux professional appliances.   In addition to the official competition is the Marché du Film, the Cannes Market with many exciting films that are not in any of the official competitions.

Rising to the challenge of more women behind the camera at Cannes is this year’s “Un Certain Regard”, with eight films by women selected -  nearly half of the selection, under the watch of jury president Thomas Vinterberg .  During Semaine de la Critique -  - Critic’s Week. Mia Hansen-Løve heads up the Jury du Prix Découverte du court métrage and “du Prix Révélation France 4” during Critics week. . The poster for the festival this year is the French singer-songwriter Soko, who was featured in Alice Winocour’s “Augustine” last year, the story of a young girl who is being treated for hysteria by the famous French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon).

Another competition at Cannes is for the Camera d’Or award for best debut feature presided over by Agnes Varda. The short film and Cinéfoundation competitions will be led by jury president Jane Campion.

Several Cannes classics will be screened at the 66th Cannes, and special guest Kim Novak will attend a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 “Vertigo”. There will be new restoration films and an homage to the centennial of the birth of Indian films. 

As for the opening film The Great Gatsby already released in the USA on May 10, it remains to be seen if the film will illicit French whistles.  The director and lead cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Maguire, and Carey Mulligan ascended the steps of the Cinema Lumière on a rain drenched Red Carpet, affectionately called “The Wet Carpet”. 

Steven Spielberg acknowledged in his first spoken words as Jury President at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival that the event has been around as long as he has –66 years. A collage of his best films was shown beforehand – starting with Maîtresse de Cérémonie Audrey Tatou’s favorite  - E.T.  Her remarks at the ceremony were those of a star struck young girl at the movies rather than the mature actress she has become.

In commemoration of the Cannes out of competition film Color Purple in 1986, a choir sang the theme song with a solo by vocalist Crystal, dressed in a tux,  something that was notably not on the minds of the French press this evening with their attention to the stars and women in evening gowns

Spielberg then introduced his jury: Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan, Naomi Kawase, Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Cristian Mungiu, Lynne Ramsay and Christoph Waltz.

The nominated films in the official competition range from human relationships to love to violence. Jia Zhangke’s film “A Touch of Sin” (China 2013) , and Miike Takashi’s film Shield of Straw (Japan 2013) are among the more visceral entries.  One film is by a woman behind the camera this year – Valeria Bruni Tedschi’s “A Castle in Italy”.  

Exciting will be La Vie D’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Colour) by Andellatif Kechiche, a story of two women who fall in love starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopolous. It almost seems like an antidote to Cristian Mungiu’s tragic “Beyond the Hills” in competition last year that echoed the parade of films from the 60’s about lesbians in couples where one usually wind up dying or leaving her lover for a man – such as The Fox (Mark Rydell, 1967), and The Children’s Hour (William Wyler, 1961).

The Queer Palm Jury this year, organized since 2011 by French journalist Franck Finance Madureira, is headed by the cult Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues. La Vie D’Adèle and Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candalabra ,a biopic on gay entertainer Liberace starring Michael Douglas and Mat Damon in smashing new roles are some of the candidates for this award, which is becoming a valuable and vital part of the Cannes lineup.

At the close of the opening ceremony, Leonardo DiCaprio who has been in several of Spielberg’s films came on stage  together with Amitabh Armitabh also featured in The Great Gatsby. DiCaprio declared the festival open and the evening ended with fireworks and soggy beach parties on the Riviera.

©Moira Sullivan

 

Moira Sullivan is an accredited journalist at Cannes, and served on the Queer Palm Jury 2012. She is the Nordic correspondent for Filmfestivals.com since 2000.

Reprinted from Film International

 

 

 

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