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CANNES FESTIVAL 1997

50TH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL DU FILM
CANNES, MAY 7 - 18, 1997

The fanfare music can be heard around the Palais des Festivals each evening on loudspeakers to announce the screening of one of the films in Competition. The red carpet waits for the limos to deliver the stars, the filmmakers, the invited guests, the dignitaries…and even a few film buffs. It is one of the highlights of a filmmaker’s career to be invited to walk up the red carpet, to be greeted by cheers and applause. This year, Australia has one film in Competition, one in Short Competition, and another in the festival’s Out of Competition program.
Below, Andrew L. Urban outlines the three festival films - but first . . .

THE 1997 WINNERS

PALME D'OR
Shohei Imamura: The Eel
Abbas Kiarostami: The Taste of Cherry

GRAND JURY PRIZE
Atom Egoyan: The Sweet Hereafter

BEST ACTOR, MALE
Sean Penn: She's So Lovely

BEST ACTOR, FEMALE
Kathy Burke: Nil By Mouth

BEST DIRECTOR
Wong Kar-wai: Happy Together

BEST SCREENPLAY
James Schamus: The Ice Storm

THE AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL FILMS:

THE WELL - In Competition

The Well is about "how the need for love can corrupt you," says director Samantha Lang. "We wanted the structure to be like a string which we tie in a know, and the ending unties it. I feel this is a story you need to see - the meaning is infused through the whole film, so it’s not very American and doesn’t have a three act structure."

Indeed, when Lang finished the assembly, she rang producer Sandra Levy "and I told her this is a very odd film - it’s ambiguous, mysterious, as well as a psychological drama."

Adapted from Elizabeth Jolly’s novel by Laura Jones, The Well is about two very different women at different ages and with seemingly nothing in common. They meet by chance and initially thrive on their new friendship, but as time passes, each discovers that appearances can be deceptive. An accident with serious consequences seals their fate.

Miranda Otto stars as Katherine, the young, sensuous girl who is taken into Hester’s (Pamela Rabe) home to help around the house.

"We weren’t absolutely faithful to the book," says Lang, who was invited to direct the adaptation by producer Sandra Levy. "I think they wanted young blood," says Lang, who at 29 is just 18 months out of the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
"Australian film-making at its best..." says Urban Cinefile's Louise Keller.

WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP - Out of Competition, midnight screening
Welcome to Woop Woop is the story of Teddy (Johnathon Schaek), a young New York hustler on the run who ends up in Woop Woop, Australia's equivalent to Timbuktoo, a tiny desert community run by Daddy-O (Rod Taylor). Teddy's first problem is Daddy-O's daughter Angie (Susie Porter), a sex-crazed tomboy with big plans for Teddy. The bizarre little place is more akin to a fifedom or open prison, under the personal control of Daddy-O, whose grand vision and patriotic fervour stir the hearts of his community. Except for Teddy. And then there is the big red ... ?

Elliott has not only twisted the black story into a romp, he added music so inappropriate that it shifts the film from the derailed to the surreal.

"It's not a musical comedy, it's a comedy with music. Best way to describe it," he says. There is Rodgers and Hammerstein everywhere, and while getting the rights was a feat in itself, the use of the music, as Elliott readily admits, is risky: "It's incredibly subversive - much more than anything I've done before..."

But on another level, the film is a showcase for some almost fossilised Australiana: "It's blowing one last big kiss goodbye to the mass of old Australian culture which is disappearing; 50's, 40's, 60's culture which is just about to go and we've been out there in Alice Springs and we've been travelling - there is beer guzzling, there is sexism and there is racism and there is more beer guzzling . . . you name it, it still exists out there, but slowly the city is trying to pretend that it doesn't. It will eventually disappear; it is disappearing. This is my homage, my goodbye to a great piece of Australian culture that I think is just terrific."

FINAL CUT - Short Competition

Final Cut is the 3 minute 11 second debut for the safely-named Justin Case, about a Mexican walking fish that is kidnapped, but the ransom note is sloppily pasted and becomes a love note. The kidnapper gets more than he bargained for; his neighbour’s amorous wife.



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THE 1997 JURY

Isabelle Adjani (President),
actress (France)

Gong Li
actress (China)

Mira Sorvino
actress (U.S.)

Paul Auster
writer (U.S.)

Luc Bondy
stage/film director (France)

Tim Burton
director (U.S.)

Patrick Dupond
dancer/choreographer (France)

Mike Leigh
director (U.K.)

Nanni Moretti
director (Italy)

Michael Ondaatje

1997 FESTIVAL FILMS

(CAPITALS indicate Australian)

OFFICIAL COMPETITION

Opening Film:

The Fifth Element (Luc Besson)

Closing Film

Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood)

***

The Ice Storm (Ang Lee)

Il principe di Hombourg (Marco Bellochio)

Call It Love (Nick Cassavetes)

The Brave (Johnny Depp)

The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)

Funny Games (Michael Haneke)

L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson)

La Femme defendue (Philippe Harel)

Unagi (Shoei Imamura)

Assassin(s) (Matthieu Kassovitz)

THE WELL (SAMANTHA LANG)

Nil By Mouth (Gary Oldman)

Kini & Adams (Idrissa Ouedraogo)

Western (Manuel Poirier)

The Truce (Francesco Rosi)

Happy Together (Wong-kar Wai)

The Eel (Shohei Imamura)

The End of Violence (Wim Wenders)

Welcome to Sarajevo (Michael Winterbottom)

Keep Cool (Zhang Yimou)

The Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami)

Out of Competition - Special Screening

Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh)

Al Massir (Youssef Chahine)

The Blackout (Abel Ferrara)

Nirvana (Gabrielle Tornatore)

Voyage to the Beginning of the World (Manoel de Oliveira)

Ghosts (Stan Winston)

WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP (STEPHAN ELLIOTT)

***

UN CERTAIN REGARD -

Opening Film

The Serpent's Kiss (Philippe Rousselet)

Closing Film

Post-Coitum, Animal Triste (Brigitte Rouan)

***

La Cruz (Alejandro Agresti)

Le Frere (Alexei Balabanov)

The House (Sharunas Bartas)

American Perfekt (Paul Chart)

La buena estrella (Ricardo Franco)

Histoire(s) du cinema (2 chapters) (Jean-Luc Godard)

Marius et Jeannette (Robert Guediguian)

Wind Echoing in My Being (Leon Soo Il)

Akrebin Yolculugu (Omer Kavur)

Twelve Storeys (Eric Khoo)

Love & Death on Long Island (Richard Kwietniowksi)

In the Company of Men (Neil Labute)

Her Majesty, Mrs Brown (John Madden)

ABC Manhattan (Amir Naderi)

Sunday (Jonathan Nossiter)

Witman Fiuk (The Witman Boys) (Janos Szasz)

Marcello Mastroianni: mi ricordo, si mi ricordo (Anna Maria Tato)

Inside Out (Rob Tregenza)

Private Confessions (Liv Ullman)

East Palace, West Palace (Zhang Yuan)

***







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