A journalist’s view of the Cannes Film Festival and its touching commitment to cinema

Posted on May 7, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/cannes-film-festival-2018-a-journalists-view-of-the-iconic-event-and-its-touching-commitment-to-cinema-4458703.html

The Cannes Film Festival is a curious beast. There’s no doubt it’s more snobbish than, say, the Berlinale – but this aloofness is part of the attraction. The old Groucho Marx quip (later appropriated by Woody Allen in Annie Hall) comes to mind: “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” Journalists from all over the world – 160 countries, this year – jostle and stand in lines unbecoming of their status, all so that they can write about the world’s biggest, most prestigious film festival. The feeling of power and popularity one enjoys back home is much diminished at Cannes, where you are one among many – unless you are a truly global star like The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw or the late Roger Ebert.

I remember how disappointed, even angry, I was after watching The Killing of a Sacred Deer, by Yorgos Lanthimos, whose earlier film (The Lobster) I had loved. Exiting the screening, I tweeted that it was “a huge, gimmicky disappointment.” A little later, Indian critic-friends told me, with horrified looks, that Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux had said no one should tweet about a film after a press screening – and for a second, my heart stopped. I felt like a school kid summoned by the principal. My friends’ faces suggested that I had farted in front of the Queen of England, which is probably an appropriate analogy. Cannes’s rigid adherence to protocol may be second only to that in the Buckingham Palace.

So it was oddly touching to receive a note, via email, where the Festival team explained itself to the press. Sample line: “The Festival celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, a venerable age that might foster a degree of immobilism. Yet our wish and ambition are quite the opposite!” In other words, change is being promised in a Festival. The note continued, “Access to films has therefore always been one of the pillars of our commitments to journalists, and it will remain so.” There was even a dose of sentimentalism, when the Festival said they continued to accredit, despite capacity problems, critics who are no longer active, “out of respect for their past in Cannes, for their dedication to films and their makers.”

Continued at the link above.

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