CANNES FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF FILM
AMERICAN FILM IS FRONT AND CENTER
One of the world’s most infamous film festivals celebrated its 60th birthday this year, as cinephiles, critics, paparazzi, filmmakers, agents, actors and gawkers from across the globe all converged on the French Riviera for 12 days starting May 15 to May 27, 2007 at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Over 240 films from around the world were part of this year’s festival with its many segments including the Official Competition, Un Certain Regard, Critic’s Week, and the Director’s Fortnight presentations. Every night, black tie galas graced the streets, while parties were continuous with deal lunches, dinners and receptions taking place around the clock. An endless array of international celebrities lit up the red carpet each night including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Ashiwara Rai, Catherine Denuve,
Quentin Tarantino, Jude Law, Norah Jones, Maggie Cheung, Simon Yam, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Javier Bardem to name a few. And even the infamous rock band U2 took to the red carpet to play a short set just before their Saturday midnight screening of their concert film “U23D.” It was an event that had everyone on the “Croisette” dancing in the streets.
American films and film stars was certainly present at this year’s fest, with offerings that included the world premieres of Michael Moore’s next expose dealing with the American health care system entitled “SICKO” – The Weinstein Company will release in the US in June; the Brad Pitt produced Michael Winterbottom directed chilling and heartbreaking “A MIGHTY HEART” starring the brilliant Angelilna Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Punjabi and Irfan Khan based on the book by Mariane Pearl chronicling the kidnapping and killing of her husband, the Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl, in 2002 in Pakistan – Paramount Vantage will release in June; Quentin Tarantino’s new version of his crazy fun “DEATH PROOF” equipped with new footage that was not in the US version; Gus Van Sant’s solid “PARANOID PARK” dealing with a Portland teen skateboarder and his life after a major life changing incident occurs – the film won Van Sant a special Cannes Jury Prize; the outstanding new film from the Coen Brothers – “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” starring Josh Brolin in a career changing role with Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones and Woddy Harrelson; and last but certainly not least the world premiere of “OCEANS 13” which had the entire beach front going ga-ga over the sight of Brad Pitt, Jolie, George Clooney, Matt Damon and the rest of their crew at their gala. Each of these films were rousingly received by the Cannes audiences with many a standing ovation in tow. But one of the most memorable moments this year was Mariane Pearl along with her 5 year–old son Adam joining Jolie for their ovation after the gala premiere of “A MIGHTY HEART.” There was not a dry eye in the theatre of over 1200.
True to form, it is almost always the Cannes press conferences that continue to be the highlights of this festival. Access to filmmakers and their cast add to the excitement of the premiere of these films. For example, Roman Polanski got up and walked out of the press conference for the film “TO EACH HIS OWN CINEMA” that had over 33 short films from some of the best known filmmakers from around the world, while Jolie and Pitt and the cast of “A MIGHTY HEART” joined Mariane Pearl and helmer Winterbottom to create a very moving press conference. Even as questions about Pitt and Jolie’s personal life with the paparazzi kept being asked, the high profile couple always remained on point and kept bringing the topic back to the film and Daniel and Mariane Pearl’s life creating an air of respect and humbleness not often seen at these junkets. The press conference for Wong Kar-Wai’s “MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS” with Kar-Wai and his actors, pop music sensation Norah Jones and Jude Law drew overflowing press, as did Michael Moore for his docu and the conference for “DEATH PROOF” which included Tarantino and his posse of beauties – Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, and Tracie Thoms.
At the end of the day, it was the films that continue to make the festival sparkle inside of all of the receptions, publicity stunts and the parties that make up the Cannes Film Festival. This year the highly coveted Palme D’Or was bestowed upon a moving Romanian film from filmmaker Cristian Mungui for his "4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS," while Julian Schnabel won the award for best director for "THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY.” The Grand Jury runner-up award went to "THE MOURNING FOREST" (Mogari No Mori), directed by Naomi Kawase from Japan.