Cannes Film Festival 2022 | The Saturday newspaper

Tom Cruise smiles. He just walked the red carpet for the world premiere of his new blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick and fighter planes roar overhead, trailing French tricolor smoke in their wake. The Ukrainian film producer I speak to winces as the boom reverberates through Cannes. “My brother is a soldier, and my father” – she gestures to a portly man standing behind us in the queue, tapping solemnly on a phone – “is in charge of keeping Russian propaganda away from satellites Europeans”. For the first “normal” Cannes Film Festival since 2019, this year’s iteration has its share of surprises in store.

Born in reaction to Benito Mussolini’s decision to cancel the judges of the 1938 Venice Film Festival to award Nazi propaganda, Cannes is again shaped by responses to oppressive regimes and international conflict. As festival director Thierry Frémaux said of Ukraine in his pre-festival press conference, “this war…is taking place three hours by plane from Paris.”

The opening ceremony includes a video appearance by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Will the cinema be silent, or will it talk about [the war]?” he asks the audience. “If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, again, everything depends on our unity. We need a new Chaplin who will prove that in our time, cinema is not silent.

The opening night film, Michel Hazanavicius final cut – its name hastily changed from the recently problematized Z – is a light-hearted remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s innovative Japanese zombie comedy A cup of the dead. Unlikely to be anyone’s favorite choice, Hazanavicius combines family comedy tone, slapstick horror and the charisma of actors Romain Duris and Bérénice Bejo in a way that continues Cannes’ tradition of upbeat, character-driven openers. stars.

Conversely, the first screening In Competition, Tchaikovsky’s wife, is an ideal example of what many people consider to be “typical” Cannes cuisine – a mournful, beautifully photographed European humanitarian drama. Dissident Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov’s exploration of the composer’s decision to hide his homosexuality by marrying a woman who loves him obsessively has attracted less press attention than his defense of one of the backers. of the film, the disgraced oligarch Roman Abramovich, and his argument against the banning of Russian culture. . This year, there is no Russian pavilion or delegation. Anecdotally, it also seems to mean fewer superyachts and vodka-fueled parties.

Following 2020’s cancellation, last year’s heavily regulated festival was more of a show of wit than a showcase of the world’s best cinema. But this year’s list of films, considered the best in many years, creates a mood of sunny optimism.

When it comes to judging what you see, it’s often difficult to separate the movie from the experience of watching it. By the time you’ve traveled to the south of France, gotten the accreditation or wanted ticket that lets you queue, and passed the teams of security guards and metal detectors, the cinemas themselves are awe-inspiring. Huge, immaculate, absurdly comfortable, with stunning acoustics and vast crystal-clear screens, every part of your cinephile being wants the movie to be worth the expense and effort of everyone involved.

In Cannes, the experience borders on religious apotheosis. Reactions tend to be heightened, walkouts are dutifully noted, vocal interjections from offended or excited moviegoers aren’t unusual, and standing ovations are so common that the only aspect worth noting is their length (Top Gun: Maverickfive minutes, final cut, four). Despite this reverence, it often feels like the films serve as the backdrop for the fashion show that unfolds on the red carpet and along the seaside Boulevard La Croisette. Many of the 230,000 people attending the festival will not see any films.

One of the biggest changes since 2019 has been the explosion of TikTok, both as a social media force and as a medium for filmmaking, after the platform increased the length of videos three to 10 minutes. In stark contrast to the difficulties of seeing the films from the festival, entries for Cannes’ inaugural TikTok short film competition have been viewed an estimated 4.5 billion times. The decision to partner with the Chinese media giant has become controversial after Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh temporarily resigned as jury president. Echoing the reasons for the birth of Cannes, Panh cited the undue influence of TikTok, before joining the jury just before the awards ceremony.

At the end of the first week – and with many of the festival’s biggest titles still playing – five films lead the race for the festival’s highest honour, the Palme d’Or. The current favorite is Cristian Mungiu NMRa tense and powerful account of prejudice in a bucolic but impoverished Romanian village.

One of the festival’s most anticipated films, David Cronenberg Future Crimes (ovation: six minutes), takes place in the near future where humans are growing organs for unknown reasons, pain has been eradicated and surgery has become “the new sex”. In the hands of the king of body horror, it should skyrocket, but Cronenberg’s film is more exposition than exposition and his ideas aren’t fully explored.

Park Chan-wook is best known for his twisted thriller Old boy and elegant erotic crime epic The servantbut Decision to leave (ovation: five minutes) – a neo-noir focusing on the romance between a police officer and the woman he suspects of murdering her husband – is perhaps his most intriguing and complex work to date. Swedish director Ruben Östlund, another former Palme d’Or winner, is also in a strong position. triangle of sadness (ovation: eight minutes) is a piercing vision of the life and ethics of the ultra-rich. The initially witty character studies become weighty, but it’s hard to criticize Östlund’s skill and purpose.

Rounding out Palme d’Or favorites is James Gray armageddon time (ovation: seven minutes), a Belfast- Where Rome-like the tale of the director’s childhood in early 1980s New York. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Strong, and Anne Hathaway, the film is sentimental, lovingly observed, and tackles tough issues with kid gloves.

Out of competition, Mia Hansen-Løve’s A nice morning is much better than its plot suggests – a beautiful but lonely Parisian has an affair. The Bergman Island the director finds a way to make the story fresh and the characters thoroughly engaging. The beginnings of Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells After Sun is the deceptively simple story of a young father who takes his 11-year-old daughter to a Turkish seaside resort, remembered by the girl 20 years later, and which deservedly earned the festival’s top reviews. so far.

In 2021 Justin Kurzel Nitram was the only Australian feature film in the official selection. This year Australians are everywhere, according to the festival poster – a scene by Peter Weir The Truman Show – at Ruby Challenger MomLife. At the Palace, George Miller drew mixed reviews for his adaptation of AS Byatt The Djinn in The Eye of the Nightingale. miller movie, Three thousand years of nostalgia (ovation: six minutes), is a two-player game between Tilda Swinton’s narratologist, Dr. Alithea Binnie, and Idris Elba, who plays the djinn she inadvertently releases from a bottle. What follows is a time-traveling romance that includes storytelling, wishing, and freedom.

In the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, Australian director Thomas M. Wright’s thrilling and tense drama the stranger has rightfully won rave reviews, especially for its lead actors Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris. But the biggest Australian presence here is Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann’s biopic Presley, Elvis (ovation: 12 minutes), brought Hollywood glamor to keep Cannes in the news and generate the social media buzz that organizers say is essential to the festival’s future success.

Away from the cinemas – amid the crosshatch of harbor lanes crowded with film professionals and journalists in dark glasses and swinging cords tapping away on their phones – there’s a sense of the city that is home to this opulence. Beyond a widely ignored recommendation to wear masks in cinemas, Covid-19 measures are almost non-existent. Ukraine is the subject of conversations, posters, round tables and demonstrations.

Paramilitary units in army fatigues slowly roam the alleys with machine guns, but after the shocking first sight they also fade into the background, with the rows of cafes, hotels, restaurants and the market local. “I don’t really go to the movies,” a soldier tells me, resting his chin on the butt of his FAMAS assault rifle. “I prefer games. My girlfriend,” he says smiling, “she prefers TikTok.

ARTS DIARY

FESTIVAL RISING

Venues across MelbourneJune 1-12

LITERATURE Queensland Poetry Festival

Venues across BrisbaneJune 3-5

EXPOSURE On stage: Spotlight on our performing arts

National Library of AustraliaCanberra, until August 7

MUSIC Cronulla Jazz and Blues Festival

Cronulla ParkNew South Wales, June 2-5

EXPOSURE NIH! Yeyi Yorga Waangkiny | To listen! women are talking now

Fremantle Arts CenterWA, until July 24

LAST CHANCE

EXPOSURE Dylan Mooney: Blak Superheroes

Brisbane Museumuntil May 29

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 28, 2022 under the headline “Cannes do”.

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