Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #6 - The French Part 2

Let's continue with the French male directors in the competition, Guillaume Nicloux and Stéphane Brizé. Remember that Jacques Audiard already has his own post.

Guillaume Nicloux

Born in August 3, 1966. He is known as a writer and has published 9 novels; so was natural that one of his first cinema related work was as a screenwriter with the script of 1990. But a few years before, in 1987 he directs his first short film L'Orage and starts a directing career that include several short films, TV films and feature films. He also occasionally performs as an actor.

Not really familiar with this director and the only film I have seen by him is his 2013 La religieuse (The Nun) that opened In Competition at 2013 Berlinale which I found not easy to watch, except for the outstanding performance by Isabelle Huppert in another very disturbing role. Worth mentioning that his third feature film Faut pas rire du bonheur was part of the 1994 Cannes official selection in the Cinémas en France section, so it's not his first visit to Cannes but definitively is his first time in the main competition.

2015 Cannes Check #6 - The French Part 1

France has the largest presence in Cannes Official Selection this year and French directors also are have the highest number with 5 of the19 films directed by French directors. Already talked about Jacques Audiard and now in Part 1 will review the only two female directors in the competition Maïwenn and Valérie Donzelli later in Part 2 will talk about Stéphane Brizé and Guillaume Nicloux.

Most interesting is realizing that both female directors have a successful career as actresses both before becoming directors as while doing their films.  As a matter of fact, both tend to direct and perform but indeed in their current films, they only direct. As a reference have to mention that all said for Maïwenn and Valérie Donzelli also applies to another French female director in the Official Selection, Emmanuelle Bercot and the film that opens the festival, La tête haute (Standing Tall).  What a coincidence, isn't?


Maïwenn was born on April 17, 1976 in Les Lilas, Seine-Saint-Denis, France as Maïwenn Le Besco. She has a very colorful personal life that is well-documented in the net, from her mother wanting her to become a star, to her marriage to Luc Besson when she was 16-years-old, her living in Berverly Hills, returning to France and her famous partners. If you are interested in her personal life, just browse the net to learn the details.

Have seen few of her films as an actress but for me is more interesting when she directs. She goes to international cinema stratosphere with her Cannes In Competition Polisse that won the Jury Prize; but I met her with previous film, 2009 Le Bal des Actrices. Mon Roi is her fourth film and the second that opens In Competition at Cannes.

What do I expect from Mon Roi? There is almost no information about film but seems will not have the style of Polisse; perhaps the narrative style could be more like le Bal des Actrices. Still film is absolutely must be seen for me as I watch everything with Louis Garrel and Maïwenn's sister, Isild Le Besco plus watching Vincent Cassel performances are always a cinematic event.  Will not guess Cannes possibilities to win an award but believe that leads could have good chances of being front-runners for Best Actress and Best Actor awards.

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #5 - The Italians Part 2

From the three Italian directors in the main competition, Matteo Garrone is the one I know least even when he has more feature films than Paolo Sorrentino.

Matteo Garrone

Born on October 15, 1968 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He graduates from the Art Lyceum in 1986 and works as an assistant cameraman for two years before turning painting. His first film a short called Silhoutte won the Sacher d'Oro, an award sponsored by Nanni Moretti. The 1996 short film became one of the three episodes in his first feature film, 1996 Terra di Mezzo. After a documentary in 1997 and a short film, in 1998 he does his second feature, Ospiti (Guests) that was screened in the Venice fest. His third film, 2000 Estate Romana (Roman Summer) opens in the official selection of the Venice festival.

His fourth film L'imbalsamatore (The Embalmer) gives him his first visit to Cannes as film was in the 2002 Directors' Fortnight section. Then his fifth film, Primo Amore (First Love) opens In Competition for a Golden Bear in 2004 Berlinale and won a Silver Bear for Best Film Music.

6th Queer Palm Lineup

While the award site is still down, news were released via Yagg, that also sponsors the award. Believe that organizers wanted to shock everyone as there are some HUGE news for this year that will make no sense to many BUT -of course- makes a lot of sense for me: this year the jury is 100% female!!!

Logic says that IF there are only females in the jury, the award SHOULD go to a lesbian interest film; which will a FIRST in the Queer Palm short history as ALL Queer Palms has been given to gay interest films. Sigh. Unfortunately I know my reasoning is just wishful thinking as jury members cinema professionalism will prevail, sigh.

Nevertheless there is still a possibility that a film by Todd Haynes gets the award, the only issue stopping the probabilities is the story as IF remains loyal to book, then does not reflect the objectives of the award.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #5 - The Italians Part 1

A very strong Italian presence this year Cannes main competition with three "Gods" of Italian cinema. Already talked about one, Nanni Moretti and now is time to talk about the other two, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone.  Was going to do a two directors post, but got too long, so this is Part 1 with Sorrentino and will do Part 2 with Garrone.

Paolo Sorrentino

Perhaps most of you know Paolo Sorrentino thanks to the international success of his film La Grande Belleza (The Great Beauty), which went to collect numerous accolades all over the world, including winning an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards. I know him because he has constantly work with one of my favorite contemporary Italian actors, Toni Servillo, since his very debut feature film 2001 L'Uomo di più (One Man Up) that was In Competition at 2001 Venice film festival and went to win many honors especially in Italy.

68th Festival de Cannes Official Selection Update 1

A few minutes ago organizers announced the films that COMPLETE the Official Selection. There are two (2) new films In Competition to make a total of 19 films, Mexican director Michel Franco represents Latin America with Chronic, his first English-language film and the second film is The Valley of Love by Guillaume Nicloux, starring Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu.

There are five (5) more films in the Un Certain Regard section by great filmmakers Naomi Kawase, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Brillante Mendoza; also films by José Luis Rugeles Gracia and Yared Zekete.

Also, add one (1) more film in the Special Screening section by Robert Guédiguian and one (1) in the Midnight Screening section by Gaspar Noé.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #4 - Jia Zhangke

Hard to believe that I haven't so a post about Jia Zhangke and his movies but seems that no, this will the first one for one of my most admired contemporary Chinese filmmakers, one that I recently discover and amazed me with the most mesmerizing images of a transforming China. Truly fascinating filmmaker.

Will try not to do a highly praising elegy, which he absolutely deserves. Will try to go to the point, to state facts. So let's hope I do it in the fourth installment of the Directors check series.

Jia Zhangke

Jia Zhangke was born in 1970 in Fenyang, Shanxi Province of China. He studied painting at the School of Fine Arts in Taiyuan before entering the Beijing Film Academy in 1993, he graduated in 1997. He developed an interest in fiction and in 1995 founded the Youth Experimental Film Group. While still a film student he made three short films, 1994 One Day in Beijing, 1995 Going Home and 1996 Du Du.

It is in 1997 that he directs his first feature film, Xiao Wu (The Pickpocket) that was screened at 1998 Berlinale and went to win honors in Berlin and other festivals from the fest circuit. Film definitively rejects the 5th Generation of Chinese filmmakers tendency to move away from reality of modern China into the realm of historic legend; so film promotes the realism of a modern -still transforming- China. Xiao Wu becomes the first installment of a loose trilogy about life in Fenyang, his birthplace; the others are his second feature film, acclaimed 2000 Platform and his third 2002 Unknown Pleasures.

8th La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde

The Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde is a professional program helping talented young directors from emerging countries increase their international exposure. Each year this program, developed by the Institut Français, invites ten directors working on their first or second feature films to attend the Festival de Cannes along with their producers. They receive personalized support, improve their market position and find new international co producers.

The selection committee of La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde has chosen 10 projects (8 fiction films and 2 documentaries) for the 2015 edition.  Truly remarkable is that out of the ten directors five are female filmmakers, that's 50% which is more than double the usual less than 25% share.  Great.  Female directors are in BLUE.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cannes 2015 Jury Members

This year jury members really surprised me so will give them one post just to enjoy talking about them.

23rd L'ACID Selection

Today the Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion (ACID) announced the usual nine (9) films in the selection that promotes diffusion of independent films in movie theaters and encourages debates between authors and audiences for the last 22 years.

The selection of nine films has 5 first and 3 second features films; 6 films are fiction and 3 documentaries; and unfortunately, 7 out the 9 films have no distributor ... yet. Seems that in 2015 ALL sections in the festival have a strong French flavor, which for me is just Fantastic!

Cosmodrama, Philippe Fernandez, France
(*) Crache Coeur, Julia Kowalski, France and Poland
De l'ombre il y a, Nathan Nicholovitch, France
(*) Gaz de France, Benoît Forgeard, France and Egypt
(*) Je suis le peuple (I Am the People), Anna Roussillon, France (documentary)
La Vanité, Lionel Baier, Switzerland and France
(*) Pauline s'arrache, Emilie Brisavoine, France (documentary)
The Grief of Others, Patrick Wang, USA
(*) Volta à terra, João Pedro Plácido, Portugal, Switzerland and France (documentary)

47th Quinzaine des Réalisateurs Lineup

Today, Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director, announced at a press conference at the Forum des Images in Paris, the Directors' Fortnight selection with 19 feature films out of the 1,623 films that were submitted and 11 short films out of the 1,742 submitted.

As reported by reliable industry magazine, Variety, the Quinzaine selection includes films by Miguel Gomes and Arnaud Desplechin who "were turned down from the main competition and opted to take their films to the other side of the Croisette rather than accept slots in Un Certain Regard a major coup for Waintrop that signals one the most openly competitive years for the Official Selection and Directors' Fornight in recent memory." Interesting.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #3 - Jacques Audiard

This is not the first Cannes Check I do for one of my most admired contemporary French directors. As a matter of fact he was covered in my first experiment about the Directors and their films in Cannes main competition in 2012 when he was part of the Official Selection with De Rouille et d'Os (Rust & Bone). If you wish to read what I wrote then go here.

But believe that since 2012 have improved reporting about each director, so here I go with the third installment of the Cannes 2015 Directors Series.

Jacques Audiard

Born on April, 30, 1952 in Paris, France and surprisingly -or maybe not- in his teens he was not interested in movies as filmmaking was kind of the family business; so, he went to La Sorbonne to study literature and philosophy. He never finished his degree as started to work as assistant editor on several movies, including 1976 Le Locataire by Roman Polanski. By early 1980's he successfully began screen writing films like 1984 Réveillon chez Bob!, 1988 Mortelle randonnée, 1988 Fréquence Meurtre, 1987 Saxo and 1994 Grosse Fatigue. He also joined a theater where he work doing stage adaptations.

In 1994 he does his first feature film, Regarde les hommes tomber (See How They Fall) with none other than Jean-Louis Trintignant, a film that was part of the 1994 Cannes Directors Fortnight and that gave Audiard his first César Award for Best First Work. His second feature film, Un héros très discret (A Self-Made Hero) was In Competition at 1996 Cannes and gave Audiard the Best Screenplay Award for his adaptation of a novel with the same name by Jean-François Deniau.

54th Semaine de la Critique Lineup

A few minutes ago section organizers released the video with Charles Tesson, Semaine Artistic Director, announcing this year selection with films that could be strange/weird -as usual- but to my surprise there are some films that were in my long list and never imagined will end up in the Critics' Week.

In total, 1,750 shorts and 1,000 features were submitted for consideration. Among the 11 feature films in the selection, 9 are first flms and 2 are second films.

While Latin American cinema is not particularly well-represented in the Official Selection, the Critics' Week has two films from the region (Argentina and Colombia) and the same happens with Africa, with la Semaine having one co production from Qatar.  Still, la Semaine selection has a strong French flavor, which of course I do NOT mind at all, even when here there are some French films with "unusual" style that I wonder if I ever will watch (lol).

Sunday, April 19, 2015

47th Quinzaine des Réalisateurs News - Update 2

I'm glad that next Tuesday April 21st, la Quinzaine organizers will announce the full lineup as lately they have been announcing the films drop by drop. But at the same time I'm also glad that they are announcing films that I'm highly interested in watching. Late yesterday they announced another film this time by acclaimed Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes (remember outstanding Tabu?).

2015 Cannes Check #2 - Nanni Moretti

The second installment of the Cannes 2015 Directors Series is about one of my favorite directors who also happens to be a great actor in most of his films and other directors films.

Nanni Moretti

I'm searching my brain archives trying to find which was the first Nanni Moretti film I saw and is useless as seems I know him since my love for cinema started a long time ago. So had to check his filmography and believe the first one was the 1977 Padre Padrone by the Taviani Brothers in which Moretti performs the role of Cesare. No matter if I'm right or not, truth is that the movie that comes to life when I think about him is his outstanding family drama La Stanza del Figlio (The Son's Room) that he directed and played the lead role.  But recent films like Il Caimano and Habemus Papam are also part of my memory Moretti's profile.

This will be the 16th time Nanni Moretti is in Cannes and yes, you can call him a Cannes regular as has come with films he directed, films he is acting and not directing, has been the main jury president as well as jury member, and has been honored with La Carrosse d'Or. As a matter of fact he came 8 times as a Director, 4 times as an actor, 2 times as member of the Jury and one time to receive an award. That is impressive and more when you add his visits to Venice and Berlin festivals where he has collected several honors. But perhaps two of his major professional honors are winning the Palme d'Or with La Stanza del Figlio in 2001 and the Best Director award in 1994 with Caro Diario.

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