Tuesday, February 7

The Cannes Film Festival kicks off and its director defends it from accusations of discriminating against female directors, being a rusfilo, being a censor and being sold to Hollywood


The French event celebrates its 75th anniversary in the first year free of masks (not a pandemic), but with cinema looking out like few times before into its deepest crisis

Entrance to the Grand Theater Lumire in Cannes.PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAAFP
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Cannes begins with curves. As always, but this year a little more closed than usual. The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which will take its first step on Tuesday, experienced a kind of tumultuous prologue the day before. The system that assigns the tickets collapsed, the one that distributes the accreditations also and in the magazine ‘dead line‘ of cinema a long article was published early in the morning in which the artistic director of the French contest, Thierry Frmaux, was accused of having censored an interview. And after the accusation, the publication made public its refusal to make the interview public. Logically, the excessively summery heat of the Croisette or this year’s debatable poster inspired by ‘The Truman Show’ irremediably passed into the background. And programming as a whole, the same.

Thus, in the middle of the afternoon Frmaux burst into the press room ready to refute practically everything. And to all. Regarding the supposed censorship that the American publication laments, the director of Cannes explained that he had limited himself to requesting the transcription of the same to correct inaccuracies or, given the case, “until you assert your right to change your mind.” “As is the norm in the French media,” he added. The magazine denounces that Frmaux directly erased some controversial statements about the possibility that in the future Roman Polanski, convicted and persecuted by the American justice, would participate again in the festival, and something else, without specifying what, about the poor participation of female directors. (only five of 22) in the official section.

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“At Cannes, a woman has never been denied participation because she is a woman, What would you say if now we blacked out the participation of a man for being a man?, said Frmaux in an attempt to settle the issue that annually occupies this and all festivals, and which was supposedly the center of the controversy maintained with the magazine in question. The director insisted that all the Cannes selection courts are equal and that if it is not controversial that among the four selected French films three are directed by women, it should not be the other way around. In passing, he recalled “the historic milestone” that last year all the important awards fell into the hands of female directors, as well as the irrefutable female presence in the sections “closer to new cinema” such as ‘Un certain regard’. “Things change and the festival with them,” he said.

The second topic of discussion was devoted almost exclusively to one director. Man and, here’s the thing, Russian. Kirill Serebrennikov It has been monopolizing all the conversations since its presence was announced in the official section. Frmaux confessed that since then the festival has had to deal with an authentic avalanche of mails and messages ranging from very strict to simply insulting. “The festival follows the boycott with all Russian productions and journalists who represent official media or production companies linked to the government. This is not the case with ‘Tchakovsky’s wife'”, he insisted again after specifying that it has been taken into account whether this or any other film of Russian origin has been completed before or after the blockade was announced. Furthermore, he recalled, few dissidents were as critical of the Putin government as Serebrennikov.

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The third of the let’s say exciting topics was an old classic: Cannes has been sold to Hollywood by accepting a film like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’? And here, Frmaux turned his attention to the real honoree who is none other than Tom Cruise, the protagonist of the tape. “No other Hollywood star has dedicated himself to the cinema as he has done in such a dedicated way. You will not see Cruise in a series, in an advertisement, in a video clip… he is an actor who demands to be seen in a movie.” movie theater and Cannes values ​​that,” he said just after recalling that cinema was invented in France and the United States at the same time. That is to say, Frmaux is Frmaux and… three out of three.

There were more controversies, but, after all of the above, they seemed lackluster. Why does Cannes reach an agreement with tik tok on the red carpet (it will be the social network that broadcasts the statements) after having spent years banning the selfie and mobiles? In the response there was some mention of youth involvement and some sponsorship. And it was clear that it was a matter of… money. What about the computer crash? That was, she said, a matter of ‘hackers‘. Of which of why, no trace. “I can only say that this year’s system is better than last year’s.” And so.

Be that as it may, the festival that will start from the hand of ‘coupez‘ (the film of Michel Hazanavicius which changed its original title’Z‘ for that of not being mired in a symbol of the war in Ukraine) can boast of as many attractive polemics as controversial attractions. It is not the same. David Cronenberg with his ‘Crimes of the Future’ tops the wish list. His return to directing after eight years promises strong emotions. Or so the director himself has declared, who has set himself the challenge of not leaving a single session without his fainting spell.

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Without moving from the official section, where you can see the latest works of up to four gold palms (The Swedish Ruben stlund, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu, the Japanese Hirokazu Kore-eda and the Belgians and Dardenne brothers) next to the long-awaited new works by people like Ali Abbasi and Lukas Dhont. The first revolutionized the fantasy genre with ‘Border‘ in 2018 and the second made ‘Girl‘ in that same year the most bloodless and feverish vindication of transgender cinema from the trans gaze. And next to it, James Gray, Claire Denis or Park Chan-Wook with the almost classic attire. Otherwise, the presence of Albert Serra with ‘Pacificion‘, from Rodrigo Sorogoyen with ‘as bestas’ and of Elena Lopez Riera with ‘Water’ (respectively in competition, Cannes Premiere and the Directors’ Fortnight) make up for the ugly surprise caused by the Spanish absence the first time that the same Frmaux as before appeared before the media.

What follows is two weeks with Ethan Coen, George Miller, Kelly Reichardt, Olivier Assayas, Cruise, Javier Bardem, Forest Whitaker… All that and the curves, of course. “What is at issue is the very future of cinema and the 75th anniversary is dedicated to cinema, not Cannes.” Fraux’s word.

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