2015 CANNES PRIZES ON TRACK ... TO GLOOM
The major prizes at this year's Festival de Cannes closely reflect the odds that bookies were offering, says Andrew L. Urban, with Jacques Audiard's powerful refugee story, Dheepan, winning the Palme d'Or and Hungarian newcomer László Nemes winning the Grand Prix with the harrowing concentration camp story, Saul's Son.
Comedies, the toughest genre in film, are destined never to win a major prize at a major fest ... unless of course they are dark, like Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, which won the Jury Prize. In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days or are transformed into animals and released into the woods. See what I mean?
And the Screenplay award went to Mexican filmmaker Michael Franco for Chronic, about a man nursing terminally ill patients. "It is painful to watch these terminally ill patients, their quotidian a terrifying reminder of our own fragility and mottality," wrote one critic.
The award for Best Director went to Hou Hsiao-Hsien, for The Assassin, the China/Hong Kong/Taiwan coproduction, a period action drama set in 9th century China; the title is the plot.
The Jury President was the filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen. After paying tribute to Jean Zay, a resistance hero and founder of the Festival, French actor Lambert Wilson as MC, welcomed the presenters and receivers of the prizes to the stage. It would have been a perfect opportunity to include mention of a living resistance hero, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who has been rotting in a Russian jail for over a year on trumped up terrorism charges, without trial.
He faces 17 years in prison for alleged acts of terrorism. As Sentsov himself stated in his speech in court, despite beatings, torture and threats of rape, he did not confess to any of the charges and did not renounce his Ukrainian citizenship. Real life gloom was ignored at Cannes.
"This would have been a great opportunity to bring Oleg's undeserved plight
to the attention of a relevant, global audience - instead, we were treated
to a rendition of "Just a Gigolo" by John C. Reilly. " remarks producer Mike
Downey, Deputy Chairman of the European Film Academy and one of the board
most active in pursuit of justice for Stensov.
Son of Saul