Festivals and Hollywood

Princess Kaguya

For some in the international film community, the movie “season” starts with the Festival de Cannes during the month of May. Some might say Berlin, which takes place in early February, but the Sundance Film Festival should also be included, particularly for American independent films.

After the festivals for a calendar year are finished, then comes a different season – the awards season, ending with the Academy Awards™ which take place in late February. It’s usually the same small group of films that vie for these awards (too numerous to mention, even keeping to a list of American awards shows). Now that the Oscars™ have been given out and the interminable awards period is over, how have films from these international and independent festivals fared in the most Hollywood of events? Not particularly well, but that’s to be expected.

LeviathanWhiplash,” which began life at Sundance over a year ago in January 2014 but also played in the Directors Fortnight section of Cannes, was the only film from that edition of Sundance to get any Oscar™ nominations. It got a slew of them, and won three: Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons, which was expected, Best Sound Mixing and Film Editing.

Other titles from Cannes received nominations: although it won nothing, competition film “Foxcatcherwas nominated for Best Actor (Steve Carrell), supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo), original screenplay, and director (Bennett Miller). Wim Wenders’ documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado, “The Salt of the Earth” lost best documentary to Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour.”

Mike Leigh’s Cannes competition filmMr. Turner had four nominations (cinematography, score, costume and production design) but was shut out; although it should be added that Timothy Spall, who won the actor prize in Cannes, was not even nominated. Marion Cotillard did receive a nomination for her role in Two Days, One Night,” but no prize. (At the Oscars™, that is. She has been feted by many other organizations as well as critics group for her role in the Dardenne brothers’ film.)

Other films received nominations, but brought home no award: Out of competition film How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Tale of Princess Kaguya from the Directors Fortnight competed for best animated film but lost to “Big Hero 6” a film that, admittedly, this writer never heard of! A Cinefondation film,The Bigger Picture,” received a best animated short nomination.

Many films from Cannes have made their way into the best foreign language film category in the past, and this year was no exception. Although none of the Cannes-premiering films won - “Leviathan” from Russia; “Wild Tales” from Argentina and “Timbuktu” – the first time a film from Mauritania has been nominated (and which is the best film of the year in this writer’s opinion), they certainly all deserved their slots.

Fortunately, as much as we enjoy handicapping the winners and losers, none of these awards are the be-all and end-all for the lives of these films. The real winners get seen be audiences all over the world and appreciated for their various levels of artistry. And live on.

And after? Then we begin again! The 2015 edition of  Festival de Cannes will take place May 13 through 24. Competition and Un Certain Regard film will be announced in mid-April.  Watch this space.