CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2003 - PREVIEW
FOCUS ON EUROPE
Cannes hasn’t totally snubbed the US in the bitter post-Iraq era, with new Clint Eastwood, Gus van Sant and Vincent Gallo films in the Competition, The Matrix Reloaded having its world premiere there – and two Americans on the Jury (Meg Ryan and Steven Soderbergh). But the tone and flavour of the program is very Euro-focused, with the late Federico Fellini as the festival’s 2003 mascot. And Australia is represented with two new features, as Andrew L. Urban reports.
Festival de Cannes, May 14 – 25. Some may find it simply curious, others will fancy a political agenda behind the choice, but the comic swashbuckling adventure, Fanfan la Tulipe, has been chosen as the opening film of the Cannes film festival this year, coinciding with the film’s national release in France. Gérard Krawczyk's film tells the story of the imaginary and popular 18th century hero, made famous by the director Christian-Jaque in 1952.
Written by Jean Cosmos and Luc Besson, from the original script by René Fallet, René Wheeler, Christian-Jaque and Henri Jeanson, Fanfan la Tulipe has Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz in the roles originally played by Gérard Philipe and Gina Lollobrigida.
The closing night film will be Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, which has been restored by the Bologna Cinematheque using a new a photochemical technique - thus accomplishing technical wonders that were impossible just a decade ago. “The audience will witness a high-definition digital projection. Just a few days prior to its release in theatres, the great Lumière theater of Cannes will have the honour of presenting this timeless magnum opus that, with time and care, has become priceless,” says the Festival.
This follows the signing in Cannes last year of a historic agreement by the Chaplin family and Marin Karmitz of MK2 and Warren Lieberfarm, President of Warner Home Video, to restore and re-release many of Chaplin’s films first theatrically and then on DVD. (In Australia, the first 4-disc DVD set is due out August 6, with The Great Dictator and Limelight, each with a full disc of bonus materials; a second release of Gold Rush and Modern Times will be released later in the year, also in 4-disc sets, all sets priced at $55.95.)
If the opening and closing films suggest a nostalgia for the good old days, the tributes to Jeanne Moreau and to Federico Fellini (see below) seem to confirm it. But it is only partial, since the fest is also presenting the work of a contemporary American artist who works with light (lumiere, of course…). Celebrated American artist Jenny Holzer, will light the Palais des Festivals, as well as other unexpected places in Cannes, “with a myriad of luminous projections. Every night, at dusk, famous words spoken by film directors will be projected on giant screens - like film credits - thus contributing to a unique atmosphere, that of the world capital of cinema.”
Jenny Holzer has also designed the official poster for the 2003 Cannes Film Festival: a drawing that plays on words and on metallic inks, “a foretaste of the installations tailor-made for the Festival.”
AUSTRALIANS AT CANNES – THE FESTIVAL
Japanese Story, starring Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashima, is screening in the Un Certain Regard section; the film is the second feature from the creative team of producer Sue Maslin, director Sue Brooks, and writer Alison Tilson, who made the award winning Road to Nhill.
Japanese Story is a drama set against the backdrop of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Collette plays a geologist who finds herself stuck on a field excursion in the desert with a Japanese businessman (Tsunashima), who she finds inscrutable, annoying and decidedly arrogant. It is a journey of change and discovery.
Un Certain Regard is an official non-competitive section of the Cannes Film Festival. Selection for Un Certain Regard is based on a filmmaker’s innovation, personal vision and cultural expression. Australian films that have screened in this section in previous years include Love Serenade (writer/director Shirley Barrett, producer Jan Chapman) and Bedevil (writer/director Tracey Moffatt, producers Anthony Buckley and Carol Hughes).
Cracker Bag is the only other Australian film selected for Cannes, and will screen in the Shorts Competition. Cracker Bag was produced by Jane Liscombe and is set in the late ‘70s when Cracker Night was still legal and shows how one small event can change a child’s life forever. Melbourne-based filmmaker Glendyn Ivin studied documentary filmmaking at the Victorian College of the Arts. Cracker Bag is his first short drama.
In addition, the feature Watermark and the short, Unit #52, have been selected to screen in the Directors’ Fortnight event run in parallel to the festival, beefing up the Australian presence.
Directors’ Fortnight (separate but parallel to the Festival) features films by emerging filmmakers which present highly original views of the world. Previous Australian films screened in this section include Mallboy and Head On.
Watermark, Georgina Willis’ debut feature and produced by Kerry Rock, is a psychological thriller that weaves between the 1970s and the present. Willis’ short films have screened at over 70 festivals in the US, Europe and Australia. She has also held local and international exhibitions of her sculptures and photographs. Kerry Rock has produced six short films including Trees at the Crossing and When the Sun Falls. Watermark is her first feature.
The short film Unit #52 was written and directed by Tony Krawitz and produced by Tamara Popper. It is a dark tale of delusion and fantasy set in a sparse apartment building in a coastal suburb of Sydney.
AUSTRALIAN AT CANNES – THE MARKET
There are fewer than usual films screening for buyers at the Cannes Market this year; Australia’s two feature film sales companies, Beyond and Arclight, are both taking a low profile with Australian films. Arclight has the sales rights to the anticipated Love’s Brother, written and directed by Jan Sardi and produced by Jane Scott (the Shine team), starring Giovanni Ribisi and Adam Garcia; but the film isn’t ready for screening so Arclight has a showreel on hand.
Beyond is selling Horseplay, a comedy set in the horse racing world, which opens in Australia May 22; the film is written by Stavros Kazantzidis and Allanah Zitserman (the Russian Doll team) and stars Marcus Graham, Jason Donovan and Tushka Bergen.
Lost Things, the first in a planned slate of films from a new partnership of Ian Iveson, Stephen Sewell and Martin Murphy, is also screening for buyers. Directed by Murphy, the supernatural thriller stars Leon Ford (Changi), Lenka Kripac (The Dish), Steve LeMarquand (Vertical Limit), and newcomers Charlie Garber and Alex Vaughan. Canada’s CinemaVault is handling international sales for the film.
On the 10th anniversary of his death Federico Fellini is honoured by this year’s festival through the official poster, and a retrospective of his work, organised with the help of Cinecittà studios and all of Fellini's producers. These screenings will be presented in several theatres of the Palais and other venues in Cannes, as well as at nightly screenings at the Cinéma de la Plage. There will be new and restored prints, some of which will contain unseen material the director had initially included. The retrospective will be accompanied by a series of documentaries and photos of Fellini at work.
There will also be a number of events that bring to life the music written for Fellini, like a brass band which will interpret famous musical themes by Nino Rota in the musical kiosk. On the Croisette, the open air system will play Nino Rota's and Nicola Piovanni's compositions of Fellini's films.
This year, the selectors viewed 2,498 films (including 908 feature films and 1,590 short films), compared to 2,281 films (including 939 feature films and 1,342 short films) in 2002, 1,798 (854 feature films and 944 short films) in 2001 and 1,397 (681 feature films and 716 short films) in 2000. Counting all categories and sections, Cannes will present 40 world premieres. In the late 1990s, less than a thousand films - all categories included - were submitted for selection.
Counting all the projection rooms (Lumière, Debussy, Buñuel), the Official Selection will be presenting 52 feature films from 24 countries, this year.
Thirteen countries are represented In Competition, compared to 15 in 2002 and 12 in 2001, hence 20 films In Competition (against 21 in 2002 and 23 in 2001).
And for the second year running the Festival is recognising the importance of DVD, by attributing its Label to the best titles released in the DVD categories, Creative and Heritage. Works having received the Label “DVD Collection” will compete for the 2003 Festival de Cannes DVD Award, which will be presented to the best achievement in each category. A presentation of the award-winning DVDs will be held during the next Festival de Cannes, in the Buñuel Theatre. The entire DVD collection will be at the public's disposal in the DVD Space.
Director Patrice Chéreau, the Jury President will be joined by the actresses Aishwarya Rai (India), Meg Ryan (USA) and Karin Viard (France). The Italian writer Erri De Luca, the French actor Jean Rochefort and the directors Steven Soderbergh (America), Danis Tanovic (Bosnia) and Jiang Wen (China) complete the line up.
(Director – title)
Samira Makhmalbaf - A Cinq Heures De L'après-Midi
Kiyoshi Kurosawa - Bright Future
Hector Babenco - Carandiru
Raoul Ruiz - Ce Jour-Là
Lars Von Trier - Dogville
Gus Van Sant - Elephant
Pupi Avati - Il Cuore Altrove
Claude Miller - La Petite Lili
Bertrand Blier - Les Côtelettes
André Téchiné - Les Égarés
Denys Arcand - Les Invasions Barbares
Clint Eastwood - Mystic River
Alexandre Sokourov - Père Et Fils
Ye Lou - Purple Butterfly
Naomi Kawase - Shara
François Ozon - Swimming Pool
Vincent Gallo - The Brown Bunny
Peter Greenaway - The Moab Story / The Tulse Luper Suitcase - Part I
Bertrand Bonello - Tiresia
Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Uzak
OUT OF COMPETITION:
Michael Haneke, Le Temps Du Loup
Sylvain Chomet, Les Triplettes De Belleville
Lester James Peries, Mansion By The Lake
Gilles Marchand, Qui A Tué Bambi ?
Andy Wachowski, & Larry Wachowski, The Matrix Reloaded
João César Monteiro, Vai E Vem
TALL PRESIDENT FOR SHORTS
Tall filmmaker Emir Kusturica will preside over the Short Film and Cinefondation jury succeeding Martin Scorsese, who was president in 2002. Kusturica is one of a small group of directors who have won the Palme d'Or twice in Cannes; first in 1985 for When Father Was Away on Business and then in 1995 for Underground.
SHORTS IN COMPETITION
(Director – title)
Philippe Barcinski - A Janela Aberta 10 '
Glendyn Ivin - Cracker Bag 14 ' (Australia)
Virgil Widrich - Fast Film 14 '
Esther Rots - Ik Ontspruit 15 '
Juan Solanas - L'homme Sans Tête 15 '
Sophie Goodhart - My Blind Brother 14 '
Karolina Jonsson - Novembersnö 15 '
Alicia Duffy - The Most Beautiful Man In The World 5 '
Marsa Makris - To Tameno 14 '
Published May 15, 2003
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Japanese Story, stars Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashima
Fan Fan La Tulipe - opening film
Meg Ryan - jury member