By Moira Sullivan.
Toward the end of the festival, when the press was anxious to leave for home and needed an injection of new sites and hospitality, the mayor of Cannes, Bernard Brochand, took the opportunity to invite over 100 journalists to a luncheon in the old quarters of Cannes – Le Suquet. The official jury also attended the lunch and press had the opportunity of photographing this high profile group of directors and actors. Women dressed in traditional clothing holding garlands, and a local marching band met a busy crowed of journalists at the entrance of the ancient fortress.
A traditional Provençal meal typical of the area was served – fish, vegetables and aïoli and the guests were sent home with a bottle of local olive oil. It would have been nice if the Mayor and the Jury had a few words with the press, but security is always an issue at Cannes
Film Highlights on Day 10
A remarkable entry in the Un Certain Regard section was Mohammad Rasoulof’s film Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-Neveshtehaa Nemisoosand). Shot in secret, the film explores state oppression in Iran. Rasoulof was arrested for attempting to make a documentary that questioned the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which later was reduced to one year. Rasoulof did not get a permit to make Manuscripts, and he would have been refused if he had. His stunning narrative is based on a real life event in which 21 Iranian writers and academics on a bus survived an ambush plotted by their own government to silence dissident voices.
Knowledge of the event was a scandal, provoking Iran’s secret police to hunt down and murder anyone in the possession of a manuscript that detailed the attack. The situation is shocking and unthinkable, showing that the Iranian government is so afraid of criticism that they are glad to execute a few intellectuals to keep order. The film speaks strongly about the actual torture and murder of so-called enemies of the state, while foregoing any film credits. After all, they would only jeopardize those associated with the project. Ultimately, Manuscripts stands as visible evidence of the power of film to expose corruption and persecution.
Only Lovers Left Alive could have been a very clever and provocative film if director Jim Jarmusch had not decided to go with vampires in his tale. The vampires Adam (Tom Hiddelston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) live on opposite ends of the earth – Eve in Tangiers where she gets a quality blood supply from Kit (John Hurt) and Adam in Detroit where a local researcher is his supplier. Adam also has errands done for him by Ian (Anton Yelchin), a Zombie he trusts, since all the other Zombies are after him for some unknown reason. Naturally, the two are meant to be together, and so the film builds to their reunion. Meanwhile, the film’s soundtrack puts the audience into a trance, mostly owing to music from Jarmusch’s own band Sqürl, who gives the film an acid rock feel.
Notably, Jarmusch’s latest shows an innate nostalgia not only for the 60s and 70s but all past culture, and he uses vampires as a way to channel this energy: Adam’s apartment is full of old instruments and electronic equipment from the 60s and 70s, including a Hagström guitar; Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), watches 1975 music videos with French vampires on YouTube. Jarmusch also said at the Cannes press conference that Detroit is like Paris, and that when the car industry thrived people would arrive to buy expensive cars in palatial showrooms and auditoriums. At the very least, his film has a little of the feel of Leos Carax’ Holy Motors (2012) to it from last year’s competition, in the reverent and nostalgic study of an old city, especially by night.
Moira Sullivan is an accredited journalist at Cannes, and served on the Queer Palm Jury 2012. She is a member of FIPRESCI with a doctorate in cinema studies from Stockholm University and graduate studies in film at San Francisco State University.