Cannes Film Festival 2007

Kaleem Aftab assesses the health of the world’s most famous film festival in its 60th year. The prognosis is good!

Cannes celebrated its diamond jubilee in some style this year. There was hardly a dud film on the Croisette and even the English Bookshop in Cannes was in celebratory mood, hosting the book launch of Chris Darke and Keiron Corless’ excellent new tome Cannes: Inside The World’s Premier Film Festival.

Unusually, the jury, headed by the UK’s Stephen Frears, agreed with the critics and awarded the Palme D’Or to Cristian Mungiu’s abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. It was the first Romanian film to scoop the top prize, affirmation, if it were needed, that the country is currently sporting some of the top talents in world cinema. The jury did, however, disagree with the majority of the press over the merit of the new Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men. The adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel starring Javier Bardem and a revelatory Josh Brolin was a return to the dark humour of Fargo.

Two remarkable features shared the Jury Prize. The first was Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s excellent animated adaptation of Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis, a coming of age tale based on her experience of growing up in Iran circa the 1979 revolution. Carlos Reygadas (Japón, Battle in Heaven) decided to follow in the footsteps of Carl Dryer and Robert Bresson in Silent Light, a fascinating tale of an extra-marital affair in the Mexican Mennonite community. And it’s hard to knock the jury for giving prizes to Fatih Head On Akin’s The Edge of Heaven or Julian Schnabel’s excellent adaptation of Jean-Dominique’s Bauby’s novel The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Of the much-anticipated movies only Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof stank.

Scottish director Richard Jobson has always said that he wanted to make an English language Wong Kar-Wai movie, well now Wong has made one himself. My Blueberry Nights is a celebration of the ‘Pax Americana’. Like many foreign directors making their first America movie, Wong is rather more concerned with showing his own variation on the clichés of American movies than on the plot.

The Brangelina show came into town with Michael Winterbottom’s The Mighty Heart, which recounts the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Michael Moore was once again the biggest act in town and his Sicko received groans from the British contingent for its rose-tinted view of the NHS.

Away from the main competition, Anton Corbijn debuted his superb Control. Like his music videos, this biopic of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, is shot in black and white. Having shot music videos for three decades Corbijn successfully manages to avoid the clichés that ruin most biopics. Of special note, as it takes place in the Highlands of Scotland, is Harmony Korine’s bizarre Mr Lonely (pictured) which stars Diego Luna as a Michael Jackson impersonator and Samantha Morton doing a Marilyn Monroe impression. These movies were only the tip of a very impressive iceberg at what was a wonderful celebration of cinema. Happy Birthday Cannes.

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