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Cannes Film Festival 2010 Does the Obvious

The Cannes Film Festival / Le Festival de Cannes announcing its lineup always strikes me as the way we hear Charlie Brown's teacher: "Wah wah. Wah wah wah." We know she's talking, but we don't care so much about what she's actually saying.

As we near the 63rd edition of the festival, running May 12 to 23, 2010, this becomes clearer to me: It doesn't really matter what Cannes chooses. Cannes is Cannes. With a few exceptions, Cannes makes the movies, not the other way around.

Cannes remains the only festival with that power. Founded in 1946, it is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious film festivals. It doesn't have the North American marketing muscle of Toronto or the indie veneer of Sundance. It has tradition. It has the French Riviera -- the Cote D'Azur. It has unrestrained snootiness. And it has a circus atmosphere that film reporters like me find irresistible. Cannes FF Palace

Most of the movies will never be viewed in the dark expanse of an American cinema. If you're a foreign movie buff, maybe you'll catch them when they arrive via Netflix. But when you watch them for the first time in the cinephile-saturated Palais des Festivals -- in the resort town of Cannes -- they seem like the most important movies ever. At least for the first few minutes.

Here's hoping to an entry with breakout power like last year's Inglourious Basterds. This year, Doug Liman's take on the Valerie Plame spy scandal, Fair Game, will at least have Sean Penn on hand to spice up the proceedings. It's the only U.S. entry in the Official Competition. And the President of the Jury is the American director Tim Burton. Yank this, Cannes.

The festival also reared its clubby side in choosing its original sweet 16. Returning for another stab at the prestigious Palme d'Or are:

Abbas Kiarostami with Certified CopyMathieu Amalric
Brit Mike Leigh with Another Year
Mexican-born Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Biutiful
Japan's Takeshi Kitano with the Yakuza shoot-em-up Outrage

For those of you keeping score, eight of the main entries have French ties, including Mathieu Amalric's Tournee and Xavier Beauvois's Of Gods and Men. Being on the home team has its privileges.

Most of the American studio presence got ushered aside like a paparazzo without a tux. Robin Hood, yet another Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe collaboration; Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps from director Oliver Stone, and Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger will all screen out of competition. At age 74, it's satisfying to see Allen still cranking them out.

But he's got nothing on Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, who's bringing The Strange Case of Angelica to the Un Certain Regard category. He's 102. That's 1-0-2. I plan to attend the press conference just to find out what vitamins this guy takes.

The Cannes Film Festival is organized in various sections:

The Official Selection - The main event of the festival:
         • In Competition - The 20 films competing for the Palme d'Or. They are projected in the Théâtre Lumière.
         • Un Certain Regard - 20 original, different films selected from cultures near and far. They are projected at the Salle Debussy.
         • Out of Competition - These films are also projected in the Théâtre Lumière but do not compete for the main prize.
         • Special Screenings - The selection committee chooses for these films an environment specially adapted to their particular identity.
         • Cinéfondation - About 15 shorts and medium-length motion pictures from film schools over the world are presented at the Salle Buñuel.
         • Short Films - The shorts competing for the Short Film Palme d'Or are presented at the Buñuel and Debussy theaters.

Parallel Sections - These are non-competitive programs dedicated to discovering other aspects of cinema:
         • Cannes Classics - Celebrates the heritage of film, aiming to highlight works of the past, presented with brand new or restored prints.
         • Tous les Cinémas du Monde - A showcase of world cinema. Each day, one country present features and shorts in celebration of its culture, identity and film works.
         • Caméra d'Or - It rewards the best first film of the Fest, choosing from the Official Selection, the Directors' Fortnight and the International Critics' Week selections.
         • Cinéma de la Plage - Screening of Cannes Classics and Out of Competition films for the public on Macé Beach, preceded by a program of film music.

Other Sections - Produced by outside organizations during the Cannes Festival:
         • Directors' Fortnight
         • International Critics' Week

         • Marché du Film - The busiest movie market of the world.
         • Masterclasses - Given in public by world renowned filmmakers.
         • Tributes - Honors internationally renowned artists with the presentation of the Festival Trophee following the screening of one of their films.
         • Producers Network - An opportunity to make international co-productions.
         • Exhibitions - Each year, an artist, a body of work or a cinematographic theme is the focus of an exhibition that diversifies or illustrates the event's program.
         • 60th Anniversary - Events organized in 2007 dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Festival.

Prior to the beginning of each event, Cannes’ board of directors appoints juries who choose which films will receive an award. Jurors are chosen from a wide range of international artists, based on their work and respect from their peers:  
    • Feature Films - An international jury composed of a President and various film or art personalities , who determine the prizes for the feature films in Competition.
    • Cinéfondation and Short Films - Composed of a President and four film personalities. It awards the Short Film Palme d'Or as well as its three best films.
    • Un Certain Regard - Composed of a President, journalists, cinema students and industry professionals. It awards this Prize for best film and can honor two other films.
    • Caméra d'Or - Composed of a President, as well as film directors, technicians and French and international critics. They reward the best first film in any selection.

          • Palme d'Or - Golden Palm - The most prestigious award given for the best film.
          • Grand Prix - Grand Prize of the Festival
          • Prix du Jury - Jury Prize
          • Palme d'Or du court métrage - Best Short Film
          • Prix d'interprétation féminine - Best Actress
          • Prix d'interprétation masculine - Best Actor
          • Prix de la mise en scène - Best Director
          • Prix du scénario - Best Screenplay
          • Prix Un Certain Regard - Young talent, innovative and audacious works
          • Cinéfondation prizes - Student films
          • Caméra d'Or - Best first feature film

Given by Independent Entities
          • Prix de la FIPRESCI - International Federation of Film Critics Prize
          • Prix Vulcain - Awarded to a technical artist by the CST
          • International Critics' Week Prizes
          • Prize of the Ecumenical Jury
          • Palm Dog, for best canine performance

For more info go to:

The Cannes Film Festival
the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Cannes, France

[general info courtesy of Wikipedia]

related FFTraveler stories:

Toronto's Hot Docs Divvies Awards

During its 11-day swing, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (April 29 to May 9, 2010) screened 166 films from more than 40 countries. North America’s largest non-fiction film festival, conference and market, reconvened in Toronto for the 17th year as an essential passage for the international doc community.

A Film Unfinished, Yael Hersonski's look at an incompleted Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto, was anointed Best International Feature at the May 7th awards bash in the Isabel Bader Theatre. Already an award-winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the production has Hot Docs to thank for its $10,000 cash prize.

Nine other trophies were dispensed at the Hot Docs Awards Presentation emcee'd by CBC's Jian Ghomeshi.

Leave Them Laughing  took the Special Jury Prize / Canadian Feature Award. And it could be the motto for the annual fest, which played to packed audiences even as business slackened at its companion market. So the $72,000 worth of cash infusions administered at the fest is Rx that went down especially easy with its recipients.

Directed by Oscar-winner John Zaritsky, the film is about laughing in the face of terminal illness as seen through the eyes of 46-year-old writer, singer and smart-ass comedian Carla Zilbersmith. How to live despite tough odds is a challenge the documentary community knows all too well. For his part, Zaritsky scored a $10,000 hit, courtesy of the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation

The Special Jury Prize - International Feature went to The Oath, Laura Poitras's layered essay about Osama bin Laden's former driver and his Guantanamo Bay-held brother-in-law, which, per the jury statement, "challenges our preconceived notions about radical Islam." The Ontario Media Development Corporation sponsored the award, involving a $5,000 shot of cash given by Hot Docs.

Shelley Saywell walked away with Best Canadian Feature Award for her expose of honor killing in North America, In The Name Of The Family. "We were all moved by the young teenage Muslim women struggling to figure out their own identities, caught between two opposing worlds, to whom it gave voice," went the jury statement. The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation sprang for the $15,000 prize, which is sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Tomer Haymann's I Shot My Love earned top honor in the Mid-Length Documentary category. The film follows the Israeli filmmaker's relationship with the German lover he met when presenting his film, Paper Dolls, at the Berlin Film Festival. Awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the $3,000 prize comes courtesy of Hot Docs.

Tussilago, by Swedish director Jonas Odell, was triaged as Best Short Documentary Award. The jury commended this hybrid live action/animation about the former girlfriend of West German terrorist Norbert Kröcher for its "innovative and ever-evolving use of animation to recreate a historical era." Playback is behind the award, which carries a $3,000 sum accorded by Hot Docs.

Jeff Malmberg, director of Marwencol, bagged the HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award. The film tracks unfolding dramas in the miniature WW II-era town that beating victim Mark Hogencamp constructed as art therapy. In its statement, the jury acknowledged that "Hogencamp, robbed of his memory, creates a fantasy world through which he rediscovers his identity and realizes his true self." HBO Documentary Films proffered the award.

This year's Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to acclaimed UK filmmaker Kim Longinotto. The Hot Docs Board of Directors did the honors. Spanning such award-heavy, female-centric portraits as Rough Aunties, Divorce Iranian Style and Sisters in Law, Longinotto's globally minded work commanded a retrospective at the 2010 Hot Docs.

Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji snared the Don Haig Award, set up by documentary to encourage emerging Canadian documentarians. Lyall and Mukerji are the makers of Hot Docs' 2009 official selection and audience pick, 65_RedRoses. Awarded by the Don Haig Foundation, the prize packs a $20,000 cash bounty underwritten by documentary.

Director  Kim LonginottoTwenty-year-old director Ayanie Mohamed went home with the Lindalee Tracey Award, which gives props to an emerging Canadian filmmaker with "a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour."  As part of the accolade, Mohamed will pocket $6,000 in cash prize and $3,000 in film stock donated by Kodak Canada.

Jurors of the Canadian features were Now magazine CEO Alice Klein; Liz Mermin, director of Horses; and IDFA's Martijn te Pas. The international features jury brought together Gonzalo Arijón, director of Eyes Wide Open - Exploring Today’s South America; Directors Guild of Canada president Sturla Gunnarsson; and Chris Hegedus, co-director of Kings of Pastry. Serving on the short and mid-length films jury were CPH:DOX festival director Tine Fischer; Judy Gladstone, executive director of Canada's Bravo!FACT foundation; and Havana Film Festival programmer and film critic Alberto Ramos Ruiz.

With the Rooftop Docs: Shorts Film Program now scheduled for Sunday, May 9, at the Citipark Cumberland Garage, across from the Cumberland Cinemas, there's one more chance to experience the fest's quality programming. This selection of shorts will screen with the award-winning Marwencol

Stay tuned May 10, when the winners of the Hot Docs Audience Award and audience top 10 favorites will be revealed.

For more info, award winners and wrap-up, go to:

Hot Docs
April 29 - May 9, 2010
55 Avenue Road
Hazelton Lanes
Toronto, Canada
416 637 5150

As Seen on TV (or Not) – Turner Classic Movies Live!

For the first time, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is presenting their TCM Classic Film Festival live in Hollywood, California, from April 22 through 25, 2010, at four premiere film venues in downtown Hollywood:  The Egyptian Theater, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Mann’s Chinese 6 cineplex and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

This unique occasion by the channel that is all about the film history of classic Hollywood is a golden opportunity to watch great movies the way our forebears saw them (i.e., as they were meant to be seen), introduced by the people (or their relatives) who made them, listen to behind-the-scenes stories, enjoy newly restored films, and share enthusiasm for classic cinema with other devotees.  

The official host of the festival, of course, is TCM’s own Robert Osborne, along with film historian Leonard Maltin and other hosts.

Events slated for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel include a book signing and display of original art by Tony Curtis; a special screening of Joan Crawford’s home movies, hosted by her grandson, Casey LaLonde; a presentation by special effects artist Douglas Trumbull; and numerous scheduled conversations with festival guests.

Special individual screenings are being featured, including several beautifully restored films, rare gems and celebrity introductions.

The Opening Night film is George Cukor’s A Star is Born (1954), digitally restored by scanning original negatives, resulting in much better picture quality with deeper and richer color than ever before.

Two of the oldest living Oscar® winners of Best Actor and Best Actress will be introducing their best restored films:

Luise Rainer
(who turned 100 in January) introduces The Good Earth, directed by Sidney Franklin (1937). This film won Rainer her second Oscar® for her portrayal of a hard-scrabble Chinese peasant.

Ernest Borgnine introduces Jubal, directed by Delmer Daves (1956). Borgnine starred with Glenn Ford and Rod Steiger in this quasi-noir Western that retooled Shakespeare’s Othello for the Old West. “Extraordinary scenery and an intense, intelligent script highlight this underrated drama.” This screening is the North American premiere of the restored print, with “a new 35mm digitally corrected negative which  reproduces the original Cinemascope aspect ratio for the first time since the movie’s initial release. The original stereo soundtrack has also been restored.” A Q&A with Ernest Borgnine follows.

Other classics being dusted off and newly improved include:

Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), the 50th anniversary screening and North American premiere of the newly restored print, introduced by Jean-Paul Belmondo

Fritz Lang
’s Metropolis (1927) TCM’s screening of the North American premiere of the new restoration, which includes lost footage. 

Dirigible (1931) Newly restored print introduced by Tom Capra (son) and Frank Capra III (grandson) of director Frank Capra.

The Day of the Triffids (1963), directed by Steve Sekely, the world-premiere midnight screening of the restored print. Restoration expert Michael Hyatt worked directly on the negative rather than a digital copy. He painstakingly removed more than 20,000 specks of dirt, using his own techniques, and adjusted the color timing on the film.

The Story of Temple Drake, directed by Stephen Roberts (1933), starring Miriam Hopkins. Based on the William Faulkner novel Sanctuary, this rarely screened Pre-Code film is a “steamy tale of a society girl brutalized by an impotent, murderous gangster."  The film “triggered an uproar, inspiring church boycotts of the movies and leading to stricter Production Code enforcement starting in 1934. One of the first things the new Hays Office demanded was that The Story of Temple Drake be pulled from release, [after which] it was kept off the screen by censors for decades.” This print is a restoration work-in-progress by MOMA (funded in part by Turner Classic Movies).

Other screenings include:

Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), introduced by Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau

Martin Scorsese
’s foray into comedy, The King of Comedy (1983), starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, followed by a Q&A with Jerry Lewis

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), featuring a discussion with visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull

Other tracks include:

Panels discussions
  • “Casting Secrets: The Knack of Finding the Right Actor”
  • “A Remake to Remember: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Updating Movie Classics”
  • “The Greatest Movies Ever Sold: Classic Movie Marketing Campaigns”

Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood – TCM is partnering with Vanity Fair magazine, creator of the Penguin book, Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood, edited by Graydon Carter. Vanity Fair’s Sam Kashner, Peter Biskind and David Kamp, each of whom has essays included in the Vanity Fair book, will conduct the discussions.

Hollywood on Hollywood –  stories about Hollywood by Hollywood, which include such perennial fare as Singing in the Rain

Special Programs

"Festival Shorts"  –  presented by Leonard Maltin, who curates a special program of notable shorts.

"Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection" – Donald Bogle, author of Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: A History of Black Hollywood, presents cartoons that have been kept from the public eye because of negative racial or cultural stereotypes.

"Fragments" – a compilation of surviving pieces from lost films from two of the world’s top film archives, the Academy Film Archive and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Titles  to be announced.

The Film Foundation, celebrating its 20th year of preserving and restoring classic films, was founded by Martin Scorsese and a distinguished group of fellow filmmakers. The organization is dedicated to protecting motion pictures and the rights of the artists who create them, educating the public about the importance of film preservation, and raising the necessary funds to save the endangered cinematic treasures.

For more details and information, see

TCM Classic Film Festival
April 22-25, 2010

In Downtown Hollywood:

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Blvd.

Mann's Chinese 6
6801 Hollywood Blvd.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Blvd.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.

Nashville Film Festival Is Music to the Eyes

The Nashville Film Festival turned 40 last year, and while "41" doesn't cut the same dash, the South's oldest film festival shouAdrien Grenierld keep crowds plenty fortified over the next eight days: Running April 15 to 22, 2010, at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas, NaFF has a lineup of 230 films.

Naturally, music themes bloom brightly among these. Titles in the popular "Music Films/Music City" competition include several non-fiction films. There's The Bass Player, Niall McKay's road trip with his Irish jazz-performer dad, and Clark Stiles' Don't Quit Your Daydream. The latter, produced by Adrian Grenier, follows two musicians crisscrossing America in an RV and jamming with folks they encounter along the way.

The Entourage star directed another buzz-making film, Teenage Paparazzo. Closing the Festival with it is a bit of programming mischief that NaFF artistic director Brian Owens calls "almost deliciously subversive … in a town full of celebrities" where fame is downplayed. Bolded names from Alec Baldwin to Noam Chomsky bob up in this documentary about celebrity obsession.

Grenier will make the scene together with country music artist Brad Paisley, whose short film, When Mom's Away, opens the April 22 event.

Robert Patton-Spruill's Do It Again is surely the hoot of the tune tales. The documentary tracks a middlescent journalist's mission to reunite '60s rockers The Kinks. As sad sack as he and his profession may be, America comes off as sorrier still.

NaFF's Opening Night film, Nowhere Boy, cocks a snook at the British Invasion from the other side of the pond. UK director Sam Taylor-Wood dramatizes the young John Lennon's coming of age in post-war Liverpool with his mother, caretaker aunt and the US culture that helped raise him.

Other music-flavored events at the Festival are a "One On One" with composer Carter Burwell. The Coen Brothers staple will take this year's Mike Curb Career Achievement Award For Film Music.

A chat is also scheduled with Mario Van Peebles and the cast of his latest drama, Black, White and Blues. Shot in Nashville, this tale of spiritual redemption and the Memphis blues is one of nine films that will have its world premiere at NaFF.

One of the most hotly anticipated screenings is Radu Mihaileanu's The Concert. It centers on Bolshoi orchestra conductor Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, who was fired during the Brezhnev era for hiring Jewish musicians and who now seeks to reunite them for a Paris concert that the current Bolshoi was slated to perform. French screen veteran Miou-Miou co-stars with Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds).

Like The Concert, Provinces of Night comes to Nashville as a "Special Presentation." Set in rural Tennessee, Shane Dax Taylor's work in progress stars Grammy Award winner Kris Kristofferson as a musician, womanizer and drunk. Character actor W. Earl Brown scripted this translation of William Gay's novel, featuring music by T Bone Burnett. You'd think Crazy Heart might have exhausted the field, but judging by Provinces' reception at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where extra screenings were added, the film co-starring Val Kilmer, Dwight Yoakam and Hilary Duff will garner its share of kudos at Nashville.

For the rest of the international lineup that NaFF artistic director Owens either invited or winnowed down from 2,000 submissions, see

The Regal Green Hills Stadium 16
Apr. 15 – 22, 2010
3815 Green Hills Village Drive

Nashville, TN 37215


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