Episode 118

(20 May, 2011)

Chaz Ebert: 2011 Cannes

Transcript for Chaz Ebert: 2011 Cannes

Want a ticket to the Cannes Film Festival, well; we've got the next best thing. Our Executive Producer Chaz Ebert is there and has been reporting for our website. Here’s her latest report from the world's most influential film festival.

Why do I go to the Cannes Film Festival? Because here, movies matter. It is the temple of cinema, and at the center of it all, is the auteur: the director. In Cannes it is the director who shapes the film and makes it his own. I have been coming to the Cannes Film Festival for over twenty years and certain directors become the darling of Cannes and are invited back again and again. And recent years, festival President Gilles Jacob and Festival Director Thierry Frémaux have cultivated a new wave of directors, in addition, to some of the old favorites. This year we have Pedro Almodovar, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Nanni Moretti, Lars Von Trier and the Brothers Dardenne; Jean Pierre and Luc among others. In twenty ten there was not one film from a woman director selected for the official competition. This year there are four women directors.

What’s fascinating about the three films by women directors that have been screened thus far is how uncategorizable they are, but how each one in it’s own terms packs a unique punch. The first one that we saw was “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” directed by Lynne Ramsay. And as the superb actor Tilda Swinton said, and she stars in the film. She said at the press conference this is a film that takes on taboos of cinema: maternal ambivalence. And then we saw “Sleeping Beauty.” A first feature by an Australian director, Julia Leigh, and whereas many viewers were expecting a certain kind of titillation because there had been the news of an erotic fairy tale coming, and what we saw instead was a very discomforting voyeurism. Then we had the French film “Polisse,” directed by Maiwenn Le Besco, who is also a French actress. And it is one of these tough police procedurals about the child protection unit of the French Police, but made with a lot of heart.

Cannes prizes creativity, and indeed, one of the most popular additions to the festival competition is the film, “The Artist.” A black and white silent film made not years ago, but just this year by director Michel Hazanavicius about a silent film star who loses his fame with the advent of the talkies.

As we speak the competition is at the halfway point, so, my affections may, in fact, be usurped by something I have not yet seen. But for now, my favorite film so far is called “The Artist.” And it’s incredibly entertaining and touching and makes outstanding use of all building blocks of cinema. So, for over a hundreds, it’s a story. It’s light and shadow. It’s magnificent faces. It’s great acting, and it’s a tale that had me laughing and crying and all that stuff you want to do when you go the movies.

This film was purchased by Harvey Weinstein’s company; and the buzz along the “corset” is that Harvey is back as a major player again after a few years of hard knocks. Business at Cannes seems to be back in full force. And the basement of the “palet” beneath where some of the world’s greatest filmmakers premiere their work is the Marche Du Film; a giant market place where studios and producers look to buy and sell films from virtually every country and in every language. Reclusive director Terrence Malick made waves for not showing up at the earlier press conference for his film, but Malick did make a brief appearance at the screening; showing up and disappearing like an apparition after the movie ended. I found “The Tree of Life” to be beautifully contemplative on subjects of birth and death and faith and family and violence and nature. There’s not much dialogue in the film and some parts of it play like a silent movie. Some people found it unnecessarily obtuse, but at the red carpet screening there was polite applause. But this is Cannes, so no matter your final opinion of the film, you fully appreciate the work and the artist.

Thank you so much for that Chaz and you know Midnight In Paris, which we both loved earlier in the show, was the opening night film at Cannes and people loved it of course.

And next week we'll be doing Tree of Life, which was in competition and received some mixed reactions from, from the audience in the theater.

Yes, but getting booed at Cannes is like a badge of honor I think. A lot of great films, Certified Copy, which you love...

Certified Copy was booed at Cannes, that’s true.

Booed at Cannes, it's a good thing.