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Cannes 2012: Palme d’love

Left to Right: Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges and Emmanuelle Riva as Anne Photo by (c) Films du Losange, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

By Marcin Radomski.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival was a special event for the filmgoers. It was the 65th anniversary under the patrona of the forever beautiful Marilyn Monroe. This international event boasts having the largest film festival audience in the world. Cannes festival gathers film lovers, film professionals, filmmakers and media community from all around the world.

Left to Right: Emmanuelle Riva as Anne and Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges Photo by (c) Films du Losange, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The new films presented in the main competition include those from, among others, Wes Anderson, Ulrich Seidl, Cristian Mungiu, Michael Haneke, Thomas Vinterberg, Abbas Kiarostami, Carlos Reygadas, and David Cronenberg. Film lovers had the opportunity to admire the talented artists in the section Un Certain Regard, who, often without complex, outdo the skill ability of the champions who fight for the Palme d’Or. Movies seemed great, but it was hard to find that one, which could be hailed as outstanding. The Golden Palm prize for Love directed by Michael Haneke was not surprising because the audience immediately recognized a masterpiece, already after the first showing. The Austrian director is an artist, uncompromising and utterly pursuing his own concepts; he is a contemporary philosopher of the cinema. His thought-provoking films pose many questions. Love is a sublime and reflective image of a feeling that never ends; it is sincere but sometimes painful. The Grand Prix of the festival this time went to (a surprise for the journalists and audiences) Reality by Matteo Garrone. The film that many described as being ten years too late in the choice of topic, discusses the fascination with reality shows like Big Brother. Special attention should be drawn to The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (Submarino, Festen), an incredibly moving story about the crushing power of human speech, confusion and over-confidence — that parents have for their children. The forty-year-old Lucas has a good job in a kindergarten, starts a new relationship with a woman, wants to rebuild a relationship with a teenage son. A little lie leads to the exclusion of the main character from a hermetic community, causing his mental breakdown. The director noted in one of the interviews that The Hunt shows the true mentality of the Danish society, which in this film seems to be degrading and extremely dark. Mads Mikkelsen playing the main character in the film was awarded with the prize for the best man actor, and justly so. In turn, the prizes for the best actresses were given to Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur from Cristian Mungiu’s film entitled Beyond the Hills. The creator of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days depicts a convent located in the Romanian province, where a certain dramatic experiment takes place. This acting duet deservedly got the prize, although, this year there were many brilliant female appearances to be seen, for instance Marion Cotillard in Rust & Bone and Emmanuelle Riva in Love. Mungiu was awarded also for the best screenplay. In my opinion the jury appreciated this story because of it universality. The winner of this year’s Sundance Film Festival Beasts of the Southern Wild — Zeitlina Benha — got the Cannes Caméra d´Or, the award for his directing debut. The director offered a lively fairy tale, a tale of the wrong and cruelty of the world seen through the eyes of a young girl. She tried to cope with the adversities of fate and save the world from annihilation. This is just a very moving story and a very real one too. It wouldn’t be fair to leave some other really intriguing movies without a mention, for instance Post Tenebras Lux directed by Carlos Reygadas.  The director is the best artist of this year. His latest film is a journey into the emotional life of a young couple who live outside the city. Through a series of bizarre images, distorted ideas and controversial scenes (dangerously close to pornography) and sometimes shocking brutality against animals, Reygadas portrays the emotional crisis of two people. Another film that is definitely worth mentioning is The Angels’ Share by Ken Loach, which won the Jury Prize. The film tells about a man who narrowly escaped jail. In addition, he recently became a father and plans to take care of the future — he wants to establish a whiskey distillery. Loach illustrated the young excluded very well, the marginalized elements of society looking for a chance at a better life.

Left to Right: Matthias Schoenaerts as Ali and Marion Cotillard as Stephanie. Photo by © Roger Arpajou / Why Not Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

It seems that this year’s jury, chaired by the director Nanni Moretti, agreed to a compromise with regard to the critics and audience. The awards were divided fairly, without causing disputes. One thing is certain:  Cannes’ winners often emerge as the year’s most talked-about films. I think that will be the case of Haneke’s Love. This film deserves to be watched with attention by the audience. It seems that the main award should change its name in this year to Palme d’love. Because love prevails not only on screen, but also in our lives.

Marcin Radomski is an independent scholar.

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