L’affaire de Cannes

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The cool Mediterreanean breeze caressing the Promenade de la Croisette, also carries excitement in the air. The glamorous seaside town, the abode of the rich and famous along the French Riviera, had the spotlight on itself once more, as it always does when the golden summer basks on its glorious shores and the who’s who of international cinema gather at the coveted Red Carpet at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Cannes evokes the subliminal intellectual voyeur in each of us. It is that time of the year again, where the most deserving of cinemas from around the world compete with each other for the coveted Palme d’Or Award.

This year too, from 16 May – 27 May, the Joie de Vivre at Cannes is simply palpable. The past 10 days have seen its streets transform into fashion vistas, where fans from around the globe flock to get a glimpse of their favourite stars. The Cannes Film Festival is almost 82-years-old and was started by the French, with the support of the Americans and the British, to organise a platform for International Cinematographic Festival.

Cannes: Art Meets Commerce

The film festival not only showcases the best of the best of cinemas from around the globe, but also provides an opportunity for the buyers and sellers of the international film industry. Here, art and business don’t just meet, they collide and conspire. No wonder many films have their premieres here. Production houses see Cannes as one of the most coveted promotional platform. Swanky hotels are elaborately dressed up in a theme to premiere blockbuster movies. High profile future cinematic deals are brokered in the Promenade de la Croisette, a beautiful hotel garden with balconies overlooking the beachfront. The Palais de Festivals, where all the action happens, has 2 large theatres; the Debussy Cinema & The Grand Theatre Lumiere, which feature the much watched red carpet events, screenings and award functions.

65th cannes film festival
A view of the Palais de Festivals at Cannes, France. Photo - Irish Times

But hidden behind all the glitz and glamour, is the grandiose marketplace where the actual business of movies takes place. This is where art and commerce have clandestine meetings; where mainstream superstars hobnob with director nobodies or vice versa to create the magic of cinema; where producers meet distributors from all over the globe to sell their movies, and a venue for movie makers to launch their new releases.

The Contenders for the Palme d’Or Award 2012:

This year saw 22 international movies vying with each other since the past couple of days for the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes. With only a couple of hours more to go for the winner to take the stage, following are the favourite frontrunners:

1. Amour

Michael Haneke’s emotionally charged perspective on an ageing couple with the lady’s character in a state of mental decline. A deeply moving and powerful performance from the protagonists about the ageing process and its impact on family bonds. The jury’s favourite and massive critical acclaim.

2. Holy Motors

Leos Carax’s abstract portrayal of a multifaceted man gallanting around Paris in a Limousine and playing different characters for some unseen spectators has made it the favourite among the jurists for its dreamlike logic and cinematic adventurism.

65 cannes film festival palme d'or 2012
The Palme d'Or, the highest prize awarded to competing films, is seen in front of a portrait of the late US actress Marilyn Monroe on the eve of the opening of the 65th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes 15 May, 2012. The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 to 27. Photo - Christian Hartmann/Reuters

3. On The Road

Walter Salles’ adaptation of the Beat author Jack Kerouac’s classic has apparently made a deep impact with its stream of consciousness approach and understated tone. Shot in 5 stages, 3 of them on a road trip, the movie speaks about the longing for the meaning in life and true freedom. It reflects the male protagonists’ resistance to conformity, which they see as restricting, just as they see women, and travelling is used as a metaphor to emphasise their freedom.

4. Like Someone in Love

Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami’s movie is set in Tokyo about a Japanese prostitute who is driving around town as an escort for an elderly professor. The textured narrative draws one into the blossoming friendship between the professor and the beautiful prostitute. It’s a quiet tale about impossible loves, missed opportunities and mistaken identities. The beauty of this movie is apparently in its layered narratives and unrequited longings.

5. Rust And Bone:

A French-Belgian film directed by Jacques Audiard, this movie is an emotional rendition of a beautiful woman, a killer whale trainer, rendered in a wheelchair after an accident and a street fighter who gradually falls in love with her. Critics have apparently received this movie well for delivering a powerful tale about the reminders we all carry of the pains that have transformed us.

Others in the race:

Moonight Rising, Killing Them Softly, Beyond The Hills, After The Battle, Reality, Cosmopolis.

My Favourite Pick: “On the Road”, purely because of my love for Kerouac and his realistic depiction of the human condition, the quest for meaning in existence and existential paradoxes that dwell within each of us.

The Final Act

A few hours from now, the winners will be announced, curtains drawn and the lights will fade out. Cannes will once again, like the movies it showcased, recede back to its exotic life. And yet, thousands of lives would change forever. The cinema that looks into the depths of our eyes, mirrors the dark longings within our soul, and liberates us from Le Grande illusion; to hold the terrible silences at bay, will live on…

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