CANNES CALLING | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 11, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:12 AM, May 11, 2019

CANNES CALLING

Cannes has been a hotspot for international films for over seven decades now, serving as the biggest platform for film lovers all over the world. Besides the star studded red carpet, special screenings, master classes, prominent juries and prestigious competition awards, the ‘Festival de Cannes’ also serves as the one stop platform for networking with film personalities from around the world. With the grand festival just around the corner, this week, Rafi Hossain recounts the remarkable journey he has made over the years during his visits to this prestigious festival and what he will be expecting to experience this year.

As a Bangladeshi when I first went to Cannes, they were quite surprised. The festival committee was amazed to know that a small country like Bangladesh has a film industry. Little did they know back then that, Bangladesh has been making movie since the birth of cinema. The first Bangladeshi independent filmmaker to step foot on the French Rivera was Tareque Masud. Following his footstep, I went on to explore the international festival as a journalist. I was among the firsts to cover festival news and publish them in our country. The festival were quite happy with the wide spread coverage and they kept those news in their archives. And over the years, the festival has gained more and more recognition in our country. Not only journalists but young aspiring filmmakers began to participate. Cannes is not only overwhelming and full of activity, but is a once in a lifetime experience for film enthusiasts like me. I personally love European films and I believe the best directors that the world of cinema acquired are from Europe. I was lucky to have met Agnes Varda during my visits to the French Rivera. She had so much humility in her that her fame never overpowered it. Her friendly, joyful personality always made me comfortable around her. Her smile and welcoming nature was the initiator for all the conversations we had over the years. It is an honour for me to have known and met a legendary persona like her. The only regret I have is that I was always so caught up in our conversations that I never took the opportunity to take a picture with her. Realising this, I have decided to take a picture with Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu this year as a memento. There are so many fragmented memories I made during my remarkable journey that it will be difficult to pen down all of them in one take. I look forward to making new ones this year, so that I can come back and share those with my committed readers. ”- Rafi Hossian

AGNES VARDA

The French film cineaste Agnès Varda, went on her final journey leaving behind decades of milestones that aspiring filmmakers will now strive to reach. She was a Belgian-born French film director, photographer and artist. She was born with the name Arlette Varda, but when she was 18, Arlette legally changed her name to Agnès. She studied literature and psychology at the Sorbonne in Paris, art history at the École du Louvre, and photography at night school. She then worked as a stage photographer for Jean Vilar’s Avignon festival and his Théâtre National Populaire in Paris. In 1962 Ms. Varda got married to the director Jacques Demy with whom she shares a son, Mathieu Demy and one adopted daughter, Rosalie Varda Demy. Her daughter was from Varda’s previous relationship. Varda made three films dedicated to the memory of Demy, who died of Aids in 1990: The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993), The World of Jacques Demy (1995), and Jacquot De Nantes (1991). Her maverick, unconventional style of work influenced the formation of the Nouvelle Vague, France’s influential cinematic New Wave of the 1950s and 1960s. Filmmakers all over the world consider her as the “mother of the French New Wave.” Her age never derailed her drive from filmmaking. She was always young at heart when it came to holding her camera to create something new. In an interview in 1975 Varda said, “I couldn’t help resenting the brakes put on my work and my travels.” Even when she had certain barriers, she never stopped working on her own terms. For example, for Daguerréotypes (1976), she had a 300 ft electric cord pulled from her house, attached it to her camera and microphone and with this cord she managed to interview the shopkeepers and her neighbours on the Rue Daguerre. Even with the technological revolutions of cinema, Varda did not fail to embrace the change. She created masterpiece after masterpiece in her career and evolved to become a film maestro for future generations to follow. From her debut film La Pointe Courte (1955) till her recent projects, she never ceased to remain unnoticeable.  During the 90s, her films like Cléo from 5 to 7 and One Sings, the Other Doesn’t broke the stereotyping of cinema by bringing forth the empowering dimension of womenhood.  During her final years, she was more involved in the creating nonfiction works inspired by her life and career for theoretical reflection and visual playfulness. Her recent documentary projects like the Oscar-nominated Faces Places, the autobiographical The Beaches of Agnès and the universally acclaimed The Gleaners and I are all reflections of her clever and intimate relationship with the camera. She will always be the inspiration for cinema exponents. She is truly one of the legendary film connoisseurs of all time whose remarkable directorial ventures will continue to live upon film-lovers for centuries to come. 

UN CERTAIN REGARDS

Over the decades, the section Un Certain Regards has been the ultimate exhibit for diversified, non traditional and unique feature films from all over the world. The segment is an encouraging platform for innovative filmmakers who seek recognition on international film platforms.  This not only serves as a promotional platform but also creates an opportunity for the young creative directors to win prize for funding their feature projects and their distribution in France. This year, Lebanese director and actor Nadine Labaki is the president for the Un Certain Regard jury. Her film, Capernaum not only gained accreditation in Cannes itself, but has reached international fame through her nomination for best foreign-language film in the Oscar’s this year. Her evolution as an internationally well-acclaimed director, rooted in the Festival de Cannes, makes her a living testament of how Cannes can open great horizons for young directors. Joining her in the jury board are French actor Marina Foïs, German producer Nurhan Sekerci-Porst, directors Lukas Dhont and Lisandro Alonso.  The official list for the 72nd edition has been finalised which consists of eighteen feature films - The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão, Evge, Beanpole, The Swallows of Kabul, A Brother’s Love, The Climb, Joan of Arc, Chambre 212, A Sun that never sets, Port Authority, Papicha, Nina Wu, Liberté, Bull, Adam, Summer of Changsha, The Famous invasion of bears in Sicily and Once in Trubcheusk.

COMPETITION JURY

A handful of award-winning noteworthy filmmakers are on the finalised jury panel for the 72ndFestival de Cannes. The culturally diverse jury team comprises a total of four men and four women from four continents and seven different nationalities. Oscar-winning film director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is the president for the Jury at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. He will be the first ever Latino-American filmmaker to preside over the festival jury. Joining him to judge the Palme d’Or will be three time Cannes prize-winning director, Yorgos Lanthimos for Kynodontas, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Pawel Pawlikowski, an unconventional Polish filmmaker, who won last year’s Cannes Best Director award for his black and white Polish drama, Cold War. The panel also includes renowned directors, Kelly Reichardt, Alice Rohrwacher and Robin Campillo. Marking the significance of the versatile jury panel, American actor, Elle Fanning, best known for her remarkable role in J. J. Abrams’, Super 8, French artist, director and writer Enki Bilal and African actor and director, Maimouna N’Diaye  are all set to join the competition jury.

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS

The official selection for the In competition feature films consists of a total of 21 feature films. The Palme d’Or competition will commence with the screening of Jim Jarmusch’s, The Dead Don’t Die. Alongside Jim Jarmusch, the selected movies are Pain and Glory, The Traitor, Parasite, Young Ahmed, Oh Mercy, The Wild Goose Lake, Atlantics, Matthias amd Maxime, Little Joe, Sorry We Missed You, Les Misérables, A Hidden Life, Bacurau, The Whistlers, Frankie, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, It must be Heaven, Sibyl, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo. Noted French filmmaker, Claire Denis is set to be the President of the Short Films & Cinéfondation Jury. The short films running for the competition comprises of a total of 11 films, among which 9 are fictional works, 1 documentary and 1 animation. The names of the films are: The Van, Anna, The Jump (Documentary), The Distance between us and the sky, All Inclusive, Who talks, And then the bear (Animation), Butterflies, Monster God, White Echo and The Nap. The Cinéfondation 2019 selection are Ambience, Mano A Mano, One Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand, Jeremiah, Pura Vida, Adam, Rift, Solar Plexus, Rosso: A True Lie About a Fisherman, As Up to Now, Favourites, Roadkill, The Little Soul, Hiéu, Bamboe, Complex Subject and Alien.

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