So my whole blog is still available on Blogger/Blogspot, but I’m paranoid it will get deleted due to inactivity so I’ve copied and pasted everything below!
Cannes Day One
The first day at the Cannes Film Festival was absolute chaos, in the best way. I left the apartment in Juan-les-Pins at 8:45 to catch the 9:00 train to Cannes. Upon arrival, the entire Croissette was full of reporters and tourists. We got a spot outside of the Palais to beg for tickets for the opening premiere, The Dead Don’t Die. After begging for a bit, I went into the Palais to go into the Marché, which was great to see the market and how different markets and movies were being pitched. After, I went to the talk with Eric Kohn from Indiewire, which was very helpful for this course and the overall approach to figuring out the festival for the week.
After the Kohn talk, I got a quick lunch before returning to the Palais to beg for tickets. As there was not much going on today compared to the rest of the festival, I had decided to give it my all begging for tickets to the opening premiere. After a while, I felt a tap on my shoulder and found a woman looking for directions to the Majestic. Her French was very bad, my French was even worse, and we had a very frustrating thirty-second exchange before I realized that she actually was German. After that, I was able to give her directions in German rather than French. Afterward, she looked at my sign (“Un billet pour The Dead Don’t Die SVP”) and asked “tonight?” Thinking she meant to ask if the premiere was tonight, I quickly said yes. She then reached in her pocket and merely said “one,” while handing me a ticket to the later showing.
The rest of the day was a whirlwind of getting ready and going to the screening. We were able to get red carpet photos because we were at the second showing, and Bill Murray waved back at me when I awkwardly waved at him. I enjoyed the humor of the film, but absolutely detest zombies, so that made my enjoyment of the film a bit difficult. I got back to the apartment around 2:00 AM, and have had the most wonderful first day here.
Cannes Day Two
First of all, day two started a bit slow due to day one. I overslept and barely made it to the Festival before 11 AM. However, the first screening I wanted to go to was at 1:30, so I went back to the Marché to explore more of the booths. I went up to the Lerins section of the Marché, and fell into conversation with the sweetest German woman from ARRI. She was happy that I spoke to her in German rather than English, and introduced me to the president of Hof Filmtage, the largest film festival in Germany after the Berlinale. Both of them were so nice, and told me to come back tomorrow, especially if I was struggling to get tickets to things I wanted to see.
Getting tickets has not been much of an issue, however. Having a market badge means that I have not had any trouble getting into the buyer showings thus far. The film I saw today, Nur Eine Frau, was a German film that I had wanted to see for some time. It was a narrativized account of Hatun Sürücü in 2005, which sparked outrage throughout both Germany and the Muslim community. The film itself was so jarring and haunting, and although it was definitely a dark film I really enjoyed it.
After that screening, I explored the pavilions for a bit, before deciding to go see For Sama. However, the line was too long and they stopped letting people in before we could get inside. It was still definitely worth the effort, and we went to the AmPav for the Member Party. We met a few interesting people, but as someone who does not want to go into filmmaking per se, it was a bit hard to network with screenwriters and the like. However, I love talking to people, so meeting so many different people with different career paths was wonderful.
Cannes Day Three
Cannes day three has hopefully been the start of me maybe knowing what I’m doing (we’ll see). I went to a screening of a German film (All My Loving) I wanted to see at 11:15, which was actually very disappointing to be quite honest. There was a forty-minute stretch that would have made for an amazing short film, but the rest just dragged. Afterward, I explored more of the pavilions, and then begged for tickets for Rocketman with some of my classmates just to see what would happen. I definitely did not get any tickets, but I went to see A White, White Day at 4:00 and it was fantastic. The whole cast and crew were in the theater for the viewing which was very cool. I ended up leaving after that screening just because I felt like I had done enough for the day, and I have been struggling to keep up with sleep and the festival, and I am planning on going to an 8:30 showing tomorrow.
Cannes Day Four
This was my absolute favorite day of the festival thus far, and we still have eight days left. I started the day with an 8:00 AM screening of Atlantique. I thought the film was very well-made and interesting, and the score was phenomenal. Being completely honest, 8:00 AM screenings mixed with ambient ocean sounds…not the best combo. But it was still great.
After Atlantique, I went back to AmPav for the panel “Making a Global Village,” about international cooperation in filmmaking. This panel was so enriching and fascinating, and I learned so much about coproduction with larger markets. Afterward, there was a panel with the American directors at Cannes, and that was a really inspiring panel creatively speaking, and just really motivational.
After the panels, I grabbed lunch and headed to the 5:30 screening of Play, a French mockumentary film that was so sweet and heartwarming. It really grabbed me from start to finish, and was just a very touching movie about life, love, and loss.
We wandered back to the pavilions after that screening, only to be accidentally invited into a closed party at the German pavilion. The party was for networking with German Film Commission, the company representing Germany to location scouts and producers. We met some really cool people, and I will go back tomorrow to try and get tickets to the German short film award on Sunday from German Film.
The last thing I did today was watch And Then We Danced at 10:30, and this might be the best movie I have seen at Cannes thus far, and is definitely my favorite (it is actually a new favorite movie of mine in general, which is sad seeing as it probably won’t get U.S. distribution). It was a gorgeous and moving film, and I am happy to have ended an excellent day with an amazing movie.
Cannes Day Five
Today was a mixed bag of a day. I slept in a bit after last night’s late movie and showed up in time to get in line for the 12:30 panel at the AmPav on various distribution techniques. This panel was my favorite so far because that is actually what I want to do with my career. After the panel, I went back to the Marché to talk with exhibitors and work on my review.
I missed the two movies I was going to see today due to some miscommunication on my part and other issues, but the Rima Das, director of Village Rockstars, talk was really great. Afterward, I decided on a whim to join others at the premiere of Port Authority, and she came with us. That was really cool until it was awkward, as she and everyone else loved the film except for me. I really did not enjoy most of it, but the film itself was well done (I had pretty major issues with the plot and script just from a social context). Overall though, it was a pretty good day.
Cannes Day Six
Today was a good day. Most of the day was spent on writing my review – I had been struggling to write a review for A Regular Woman for around three days now, and then this morning I watched the 10:00 showing of Flawless, an Israeli film about high school beauty standards (among other things), and I suddenly was actually inspired and wrote a new review all today. I feel like this review was better than anything I could have turned in before because I actually had enough to say about this movie. It was a great film to follow Port Authority, as Flawless had some similar themes but it handled them so much better in my opinion.
After finishing my review, I headed to the showing of Share at Salle du 60. I had gone to the panel where Pippa Bianco, the director, had spoken, and I really wanted to see her film. It was a very realistic and great conversation piece, but I cannot say I enjoyed watching it. I am happy to have seen it, and I think its goal was to leave you unsettled, which it very much accomplished.
Cannes Day Seven
I woke up around 7:30 to go watch the first film of the day, And Then We Danced. And Then We Danced? you ask. Have you not already seen it? …yes, I have. And I love that film. Honestly it’s been the only film I’ve seen here so far that stirred any kind of need to see it again, so I did. I was going to say I saw it again just so I could take better notes and write a review (I am probably going to write a review), but really I just wanted to see it again, because I miss it.
And guess what? The lead actor sat next to me when we watched it. Did not know it was him until he left the theater. He was laughing at my reactions the whole movie. So that happened. Seriously one of the most amazing things ever, because this movie is a new favorite (if not the favorite) of mine, and to have that happen is just once in a lifetime for me. After that, Rachel and I went to see Chinese Portrait, which we thought was a documentary but was actually a “cinematic painting.” Let me promise you, a “cinematic painting” is a code for a very good nap. It just was not a film, and I’m kind of confused as to its point or goal at all.
After the “film,” Rachel and I went back to Starbucks to work on some schoolwork (I have no regrets I can’t even pretend) and plan out the films we wanted to see. I was supposed to see a film at 6:00, but after reading the synopsis of the film Rachel was going to see at 8:00, I decided that I needed to go with her instead.
We went back to the Marché and ran into Audrey and hung out for awhile talking about the festival and just the industry in general, as well as the films we’ve been seeing, which was really nice. Then we headed to Galaxy 360 (after being trapped in the bowels of the Palais and being convinced that we might actually die there so that was fun).
When we got there, the director showed up and gave us bracelets and just was so much fun to talk to and hang out with. She came into the theater with us and watched the whole film. This ended up being an issue because the film was akin to a hostage situation where I felt too awkward to leave. I would write a review about how bad the film was, but it almost seems too easy to even do that.
PS (and this is long so feel free to bounce if you don’t feel like reading) – I’ve been thinking a lot about what movies I’ve been liking and which ones I have not been liking. Everyone that I saw Port Authority with (except for Rachel, but that’s just because we share the same wavelength. Please read her review on Port Authority, highly recommend) loved it, and kept talking about how they loved the cinematography, the directing, the colors, the score, the small moments. And I think that’s kind of when I realized that I can’t subsist on beautiful small moments.
I have a background and passion for television primarily (don’t get me wrong, I love films and consume them but have no intention of going exclusively into filmmaking), and television is about the story. Yes, it’s a commercial racket (trust me, I’ve written so much on this and other forms of television commodification), but ultimately, television cannot exist without deeper stories. Without characters you care about, without plots that progress, a television show would have absolutely nothing.
Another thing about television that I’ve noticed is not really as much in the ideal of filmmaking is the audience. So many films here just feel like they were made and then released, with the hope that someone somewhere might like it. Ignoring the audience, or thinking that an audience does not matter, is just such a foreign concept to me. Sometimes I think the audience is the most important thing, because do you really have a voice if you’re not talking to anyone?
That’s how Port Authority felt to me. It didn’t seem to care about the audience for which it ostensibly was made, rather caters entirely to a straight, white audience as a congratulatory piece of “diverse” cinema. Meanwhile, the films I have actually loved, like And Then We Danced, Flawless, and A Regular Woman, were made with a specific message and story that allowed audiences to latch onto these films without pandering to them in an attempt to other their subject matter.
I’ve seen beautiful films here, don’t get me wrong. Amazing directing, acting, cinematography, the whole nine yards. And I’ve enjoyed them, and could write a review of how technically stunning a film was. But as someone who does not want to be a director, cinematographer, or any part of the “art” of a film, for me, a film is about the audience, and the relationship a film can have with them. I don’t want to walk out of a movie and have the first thing out of my mouth be about the colors, or the lighting, even though that may be stunning. I want to have the need to sit in the theater with everyone else who just experienced what I have and let the credits roll because you don’t want to go back to a world that was not that film just quite yet. That, for me, is what makes a great film.
Cannes Day Eight
TODAY WAS CRAZY. (It’s almost three in the morning as I write this so…might be more liberal with my all caps who knows).
I started the day seeing Lillian at 11:30, and this film was in the director’s fortnight, but I could not for the life of me tell you why. It was supposedly a story about Lillian (shocking) but she had maybe three lines of dialogue while the film was actually about…something else. I honestly could not tell you. After that, I started to feel really bad so I went back to the apartment to go to sleep. Turned out I had a fever and was getting actually sick, so I decided not to return to the festival.
However, I started to feel marginally better when everyone was getting ready to go back for the Queer Night at the AmPav. I honestly only decided to go because I’ve been trying to be more social. And right behind me in line was the entire cast and crew of And Then We Danced (will she ever shut up about this movie? Not at this rate because I have something new to say every day). I met the director and got pictures with the stars and talked with them, and then it turned out that they were also going to the party, and then we danced (I find myself funnier than anyone else ever will). We danced with the cast of And Then We Danced for over an hour. After they left, I stayed until the end of the party and then got fries from McDonald’s.
Also, it turns out every country has bought distribution rights for the film except for the United States. I will be making a petition shortly if anyone would be interested in signing. [2020 edit – this movie made it the US and you can purchase it on DVD/digital wherever!]
Cannes Day Nine
So today was kind of a wash. I woke up pretty early (considering how late we were out before) to go see Parasite, but we did not get in. Not to be discouraged, we immediately went to the screening of Particles, a film I was going to see tomorrow. That was an interesting film for lack of a better term, and it definitely had cool aesthetics and concepts but I can’t say the story made all too much sense.
After Particles, I had started feeling bad again so I went back to JLP to nap, only to realize that I might actually have a stomach bug or virus. I really wanted to go back to Cannes to see the 8:00 showing of Parasite, but after almost passing out trying to stand up I decided not to do that. I’m trying not to dwell on it because I will hopefully feel better tomorrow and we still have three more days of the festival (and Parasite is definitely coming to the states now, along with Portrait of a Lady on Fire, another film I didn’t get to see), but it’s definitely a little difficult to not dwell when everyone is seeing really great films and you can’t. So I’m calling it a night and trying to move on by writing my review on And Then We Danced for tomorrow, as well as planning out my schedule for the next couple of days.
Cannes Day Ten
One thing I’ve learned about myself during this festival is that I am amazing at rallying. Also, if I feel terrible, I have good karma.
I woke up this morning, still not feeling great but considerably less nauseous, so I took that as a sign that I should jump back into the swing of things. And we got into the 11:15 screening of Parasite, so I got to see it after all! We had to get in line two hours before but after seeing it, it was so worth it. After the last couple of days I’ve had, seeing a film that was so amazing was just really what I needed.
After that, Rachel and I went to Starbucks to work on our reviews. After working there for a while, Rachel got an update from the Cannes app that Leonardo DiCaprio would be presenting another one of his environmental documentaries in a special screening, so we last minute sprinted over to the Salle du 60 and got in and saw Leo and Orlando Bloom (as in, they were right next to us and there is a video somewhere of us looking like fools around them which might end up on the Internet…would not be the first time this has had happened this festival. Check the #andthenwedanced on Instagram if you feel inclined, the video of us and Levan keeps getting reposted so I guess I’m famous now…whoops.)
We left the documentary, which was actually really interesting and I plan on finishing it in the states (it was just about these race car drivers that race in electronic racecars (Formula E racing) and all of their drama) to catch the closing ceremony of the Directors’ Fortnight at Theatre Croisette. They were showing All About Yves, which was one of the funniest and most enjoyable films I’ve seen in my life. There was a literal threesome with a fridge which was just bizarre, and then the fridge went out on stage after the film and got a three-minute standing ovation. It deserved it though. What a performance.
Overall, today was pretty great. I am still pretty sick, but that seems like a problem that can be dealt with after the festival.
Cannes Day Eleven
I’m still pretty sick, but I still was able to see a couple movies today. I started the day seeing Zombi Child, and this is somehow the second zombie film that I have gone to…and I still really, really hate zombies. This movie was cool in the sense that it returned zombies to their cultural roots, but the protagonist was so odd and tonally the film was all over the place. Right after, we saw Give Me Liberty, which I really liked (I disagreed with some of the artistic choices) but no one else I saw it with did. That was pretty much all I did today, but I planned out the movies for tomorrow (the last day!!) and am hoping for a good day.
Cannes Day Twelve
Today was the last day, and it felt really weird that it’s just over now. I woke up to get in line to see The Traitor, which was this really entertaining film about the Cosa Nostra bust in the ’80s, one of the largest mafia arrests in Italian history. Honestly, it was just a fun movie, nothing really more to it than that, but I had a great time watching it.
After that we had to go straight to the line for Portrait of a Lady on Fire (seriously though, where did all of these random people come from for the last three days? You had to get to every movie at least two hours in advance to have any hope of getting in), which was amazing. So happy I got to see it here, it was one of the top films I wanted to see.
We came back to JLP for dinner and then went back to Cannes for the last movie on the beach. It was a movie about Jim Morrison (and The Doors but mostly him), and it was definitely an interesting approach to his life. I appreciated that it was not glorifying him at all, but it was still an odd film to watch. Afterward, we literally sprinted from the beach to catch the last train at 11:54 (it was 11:50 when we left), and even though it was not without complications we made the train. It definitely made for a memorable last night.
List of Movies Seen!
- The Dead Don’t Die (United States)
- A Regular Woman (Germany)
- All My Loving (Germany)
- A White, White Day (Iceland)
- Atlantique (France/Senegal/Belgium)
- Play (France/Belgium)
- And Then We Danced (Sweden/Georgia/France)
- Port Authority (United States)
- Flawless (Israel)
- Share (United States)
- Chinese Portrait (China)
- Galaxy 360 (…rationally I know the answer in the United States but seriously I cannot find any information on this movie actually premiering anywhere and am mildly convinced it was just a fever dream)
- Lillian (Austria)
- Particles (France)
- Parasite (South Korea)
- And We Go Green (United States)
- All About Yves (France)
- Zombi Child (France)
- Give Me Liberty (United States)
- The Traitor (Italy)
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)
- The Doors (United States)
Theme of Cannes 2019
Considering the films I watched when I was at Cannes, I would say that the theme of this year’s films was the idea of culture in the face in a modern era. This year’s festival featured many young filmmakers who either are of multiple cultures or feel the need to explore what place tradition has in modern society.
This idea was a prominent part of almost every movie I watched here.
Probably the most notable example of this idea was Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, which was Akin’s attempt to promote the celebration of Georgian culture, but remind young Georgians that they have an opportunity to redefine their culture. Inspired by the attacks on LGBT groups in Georgia, Akin decided to create a film that would inspire hope in the younger generation, rather than turn them away from Georgia entirely. In doing so he created a beautiful film about not only self-acceptance, but acceptance of one’s country and people as well.
This duality of culture was prominent in other films such as A Regular Woman, a German film telling the true story of Hatun Sürücü, who was murdered by her brother for being “too German” in a Muslim family. Germany certainly does not have the best history with Muslim immigrants, a fact not hidden by this film. However, the film is more concerned with the culture clash that comes from immigration, more specifically the two extremes of losing one’s culture versus keeping in isolation in order to preserve one’s culture. The film offers no real solutions to either problem, rather serves a grim reminder that there are issues that everyone, no matter their own culture, needs to be aware of.
Zombi Child, a French film concerning the role of “zombies” in Voodoo culture, told the story of Melissa, who finds herself ostracized from her mainly white school in Paris for her Haitian traditions. In returning zombies to their cultural roots, while analyzing culture clashes in the modern world, the film explores how different cultures can be manipulated or swayed by other dominant cultures.
Give Me Liberty, an American film, serves as an analysis of American culture and life in general, pondering over the idea that there is a single American culture in the first place. This film was just refreshing to me personally, as someone who has grown up in what has at times felt like many different Americas, but it also showed an immigrant perspective of the American midwest, also something that is close to me personally. Too many films from the United States present culture in the country as a homogeneous thing, but as many younger Americans know, it is not one experience, nor does it stay the same for everyone for their entire lives, which this film explores brilliantly.
All of these films explore the notion of identity within a culture, but mainly explore what culture even looks like in today’s world. Many cultures are ingrained with many extremely traditional and problematic beliefs (such as in And Then We Danced and A Regular Woman), but many of the filmmakers at Cannes raise the question of whether or not there is a way to celebrate one’s culture, while ultimately redefining it for the sake of progress.