Saturday, June 7, 2008

CANNES' Red Carpet: The Jury’s Last Word

At the end of the closing ceremony, the jury explained the award selections during a special press conference. President, Sean Penn and jurors Jeanne Balibar, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, Marjane Satrapi, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Alfonso Cuarón and Apichatpong Weerasethakul answered questions from journalists.

-Sean Penn explained the first choice:
"We all wondered about that as we all have had films in festivals before, and the concern about placement and so on. My own view is that I truly believe that our response would have been the same at any point during the festival. The generosity of this picture just reaches out and I don't think it has anything to do with scheduling."

- Sean Penn on why Waltz with Bashir did not garner any prizes:
"I was happy to find out that buzzes mean nothing; this Jury was entirely not influenced and I can tell you that I would agree with you, but we had only so many prizes to give. There were several people - myself inclusive - who found it a worthy film. As I said during the ceremony, there were things that called out, and there were times when we felt that we had almost a certain category fulfilled and then something else would come and provoke us in a different way. There's not a good answer to this question. Even though I did not particularly argue for it ultimately, I think it was a wonderful film. I also believe that it is a film that is going to find its audience with or without us."

-Marjane Satrapi, on the Palme d'Or:
"We all fell in love with it immediately. It's a film that goes beyond bad neighbourhoods, beyond schools, to raise the real question of democracy, of all these people who live together. What's more, it doesn't give any answers. Often [in a film], you see a teacher who miraculously settles all the problems at the end. This film doesn't give any answers, but it contains all the questions that are troubling people. I'm also impressed by the quality of the acting and the obvious realism. I was a fervent admirer of this film."

-Sean Penn on the Palme d'Or:
"One of the reasons that we agreed unanimously on the Palme d'Or - we start with the art of film. And in that integration and completeness of integration: virtually a seamless film. All of the performances: magic. All of the writing: magic. All of the provocations, and all of the generosity: magic. It's simply everything that you want a film to give you. On top of that, because of the things that it takes on, and the issues that it confronts, and the timeliness of them, in a world that, everywhere you go, hungers for education and for a voice - it just touched us so deeply."

-Alfonso Cuaron on the reach of the film:
"This is one of those rare films in which we're talking about high cinema that you can share with really young audiences. That is what it has to say, in the world in which we are living. They are going to be the ones who will be in charge of finding solutions, in the very difficult world they are inheriting."

-Sergio Castellito on the Palme d'Or:
"As I watched this film, I thought of myself as a father, speaking to my son's teachers. That gives the film a universal social reach, without any loss to its poetry. It's a film that seems to have been shot live, that lasts two hours, and covers a one-year period. This narrative quality is amazing."

-Sean Penn on the 61st Festival de Cannes Award:
"I think that they [Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood] and others are largely, for many of us, why we got into film. When people like that who have lived within cinema for a very long time, and are still inventive and expressive, practicing their craft on even a higher level than perhaps they previously did, it's the kind of encouragement that makes film happen. I won't say that we felt indebted, it's just in a form that by definition has artifice to it. It would be so artificial not to acknowledge them and the weight that their work and their presence brought this festival."

-Jeanne Balibar on the Palme d'Or: "I was grateful to this film for not leaving out any contradictions. I was grateful to this director for never claiming to have resolved them, either for the people on the screen, the audience, or French society. I think he exposes them, in all their violence. It might be the most violent film we saw. In my opinion, the highest expression of art is in contradiction, with its harsh truth and its hope."

-Sergio Castellito on the two Italian films that got awards:
"I thought of these two films as being twins in the same belly. They complement each other, in a way. We members of the jury were all wondering what a Western civilian democracy, right in Europe, can hide. I think both of these directors succeeded in taking a good, hard look, for all of us."
Special prize
The jury also created a special 61st festival prize and gave it to two veterans doing work that Penn characterised as "so rare and so important." One recipient was Catherine Deneuve, star of Arnaud Desplechin's marvelous ‘A Christmas Tale,’ a multi-generational drama centered on a gorgeously fractious family that comes together for a memorable Christmas-week reunion. Unexpected but still made squarely in the French humanistic tradition, this is a film you don't want to end, not because the characters are so happy but because they are so human and so alive.
The other recipient was Clint Eastwood for directing ‘Changeling,’ a dark, yet hopeful drama, made with his trademark assurance and storytelling skill. Eastwood was not present to accept his award, while Deneuve said she was "very touched" by hers.
The festival's remaining two awards went to a pair of Cannes veterans. The best screenplay prize was given to Belgium's Dardenne brothers for their ‘Lorna's Silence,’ about a young Albanian woman wrestling with her conscience. And the best director award went to Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan for his formal beautiful "Three Monkeys." Taking the Camera d'Or for best first film was ‘Hunger,’ a look at the 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland directed by Turner Prize-winning video artist Steve McQueen.
The non-winning competition film most deserving of recognition was the Israeli animated documentary ‘Waltz With Bashir,’ directed by Ari Folman. Dealing with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon in an often surreal way, this haunted, haunting film is aesthetically adventurous and passionately committed to the cause of peace.
The official Jury of this 61st Festival de Cannes, presided over by Sean Penn, revealed the Prize winners during the closing Ceremony of May 25. It ended with French movie ‘The Class’ winning the coveted Palme d'Or award for best film.
The following are the prizes won in the competition in Feature film category:
•Palme d'Or
Entre Les
•Grand Prix
•Prize of the 61st Festival de Cannes ex-aequo
-Catherine Deneuve for UN CONTE DE NOËL by Arnaud DESPLECHIN
-Clint Eastwood for THE EXCHANGE
•Award for the Best Director
Üç Maymun
•Jury Prize
Il Divo
•Prix d'interprétation masculine
Benicio Del Toro for Che by Steven SODERBERGH
•Best Performance for an Actor
Benicio Del Toro for Che by Steven SODERBERGH
•Best Performance for an Actress
Sandra Corveloni for LINHA DE PASSE by Walter SALLES, Daniela THOMAS
•Award for the Best Screenplay
•Le Prix Vulcain de l'Artiste-Technicien
Luca Bigazzi and Angelo Raguseo for IL DIVO by Paolo SORRENTINO.
Short Films' award in the competition
•Palme d'OrA 15 minutes movie, MEGATRON by a Romanian director, Marian Crisan won the coveted Palme d'Or award in short film category. It was a story of a village boy living with his mother who goes to McDonald's in Bucharest for his eight birthday, but longs to meet his father who lives in the city.
•Jury Prize
•Heart Throb Jury Prize
•Camera d'Or for Best First Movie

Meanwhile, African film makers who attended the feast look forward to seeing African movies being screened for entries into the main pool of the competition in the subsequent editions. The biggest question now is, will Nigeria as the giant of Africa and also the third largest film producing country in world be there at Cannes?

Published in LEADERSHIPWEEKEND June 07, 2008

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