Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cannes Film Festival + Cinema Miscellanea

Link to official Cannes Film Festival site

Link to Cannes 2010 Festival Prize Winners

Cannes Film Festival being one of the major preview/heralds of film to come in the
next year, judging from what I'm seeing here, 2010/ 2011 looks to be shaping up in
pretty awesome fashion.That is, assuming we get these films distributed stateside.
Cannes 2009 saw very little in the way of the major films from the fest ever appearing
in theatres in the US, let's hope this coming year we see otherwise. New ones by some
of the worlds greatest cinematic orchestrators of shock, beauty, subtle entrancement,
rapture and genre-transcendence. Links below to some of the notable Directors works
and prize winners from this years festival. Unfortunate that none of them made it into the
West Coast SIFF/SFIFF Fests this year (the exception being Apichatpong's "Letter to Uncle
Boonmee" which played in the SFIAAFF). After doing reading on the festival in both Sight
& Sound and Film Comment, the abundance of curious and atypical works by established
directors suggests there are some major surprises to be had in the coming year!:

Link to Apichatpong Weerasethakul - "Letter to Uncle Boonmee" at Cannes site

Weerasethakul's amazing Palme d'Or win this year is both a bit shocking and very much
deserved for this Thai director! Congratulations Apichatpong!: "Synopsis: Suffering
from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded
by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife
appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form.
Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his
family to a mysterious hilltop cave -- the birthplace of his first life..."

Link to Lee Chang Dong - "Poetry" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Mija lives with her middle-schooler grandson in a small suburban city
located along the Han River. She is a dandy old lady who likes to dress up in flower
decorated hats and fashionable outfits, but she is also an unpredictable character
with an inquisitive mind. By chance she takes a "poetry" class at a neighborhood
cultural center and is challenged to write a poem for the first time in her life.
Her quest for poetic inspiration begins with observing the everyday life she never
intentional took notice of before to find beauty within it. And with this, Mija is
delightfully surprised with newfound trepidation as if she were a little girl
discovering things for the first time in her life. But when she is suddendly faced
with a reality harsh beyond her imagination, she realizes perhaps life is not as
beautiful as she had thought it is..."

Link to Abbas Kiarostami - "Certified Copy" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: This is the story of a meeting between one man and one woman, in a
small Italian village in Southern Tuscany. The man is a British author who has
just finished giving a lecture at a conference. The woman, from France, owns an
art gallery. This is a universal story that could happen to anyone, anywhere."

Link to Mahamat-Saleh Haroun - "A Screaming Man" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Present-day Chad. Adam, sixty something, a former swimming champion,
is pool attendant at a smart N’Djamena hotel. When the hotel gets taken over by new
Chinese owners, he is forced to give up his job to his son Abdel. Terribly resentful,
he feels socially humiliated. The country is in the throes of a civil war. Rebel
forces are attacking the government. The authorities demand that the population
contribute to the "war effort", giving money or volunteers old enough to fight off
the assailants. The District Chief constantly harasses Adam for his contribution.
But Adam is penniless; he only has his son...."

Link to Jia Zhang-Ke - "I Wish I Knew" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Shanghai, a fast-changing metropolis, a port city where people come
and go. Shanghai has hosted all kinds of people – revolutionaries, capitalists,
politicians, soldiers, artists, and gangsters. Shanghai has also hosted revolutions,
assassinations, love stories. After the Chinese Communists' victory in 1949, thousands
of Shanghaiers left for Hong Kong and Taiwan. To leave meant being separated from home
for thirty years; to stay meant suffering through the Cultural Revolution and China's
other political disasters."

Link to Cristi Puiu - "Aurora" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: An apartment kitchen: a man and a woman discuss Little Red Riding Hood,
their voices hushed, mindful of waking the little girl sleeping in the next room.
A wasteland on the city’s outskirts: behind a line of abandoned trailers, the man
silently watches what seems to be a family. The same city, the same man: driving
through traffic with two hand-made firing pins for a hunting rifle. The man is 42
years old, his name - Viorel. Troubled by obscure thoughts, he drives across the
city to a destination known only to him."

Link to Sergie Loznitsa - "My Joy" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: "My Joy" is a tale of truck driver Georgy. Georgy leaves his home town
with a load of goods, but he is forced to take a wrong turning on the motorway, and
finds himself in the middle of nowhere. Georgy tries to find his way, but gradually,
against his will, he becomes drawn in the daily life of a Russian village. In a place,
where brutal force and survival instincts overcome humanity and common sense, the
truck driver’s story heads for a dead end..."

Link to Olivier Assayas - "Carlos" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, Carlos is a central figure in the history of
international terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s, from pro-Palestinian activism to
the Japanese Red Army. At once a figure of the extreme left and an opportunistic
mercenary in the pay of powerful Middle Eastern secret services, he formed his own
organization based on the other side of the Iron Curtain which was active during
the final years of the Cold War. This film is the story of a revolutionary
internationalist, both manipulator and manipulated, as he is carried along by the
currents of contemporary history and his own folly. We will follow him to the end
of his road, relegated to Sudan where the Islamic dictatorship, after having
protected him for a while, handed him over to French police."

Link to Alejandro Inarritu - "Biutiful" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: « Biutiful » is the story of Uxbal. Devoted father. Tormented lover.
Mystified son. Underground businessman. Friend of the disposed. Ghost seeker.
Spiritual sensitive. A survivor at the invisible margins in today’s Barcelona. Uxbal,
sensing the danger of death, tries to reconcile with love and save his children, as he
tries to save himself. Uxbal’s story is simple: just one of the complex realities that
we all live in today."

Link to Ken Loach - "Route Irish" at Cannes site

"Synopsis:Liverpool, August 1976. 5-year-old Fergus met Frankie on his first day at
school. They’ve been in each others’ shadow ever since. As teenagers they skipped
school and drank cider on the ferry over the River Mersey, dreaming about traveling
the world. Little did Fergus realise his dream would come true as a highly trained
member of the UK’s elite special forces, the SAS. After resigning in September 2004,
Fergus persuaded Frankie (by now an ex-Para)to join his security team in Baghdad.
£10,000 a month, tax free. Their last chance to "load up" in this increasingly
privatized war. Together they risked their lives in a city steeped in violence,
terror and greed, and awash with billions of US dollars. In September 2007,
Frankie died on Route Irish, the most dangerous road in the world."

Link to Hong Sangsoo- "Hahaha" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Filmmaker JO Munkyung plans to leave Seoul to live in Canada. So days
before his departure, he meets his close friend BANG Jungshik, who is a film critic.
After a few rounds, they find out coincidentally, they have both been to the same
small seaside town Tong-yung recently. They decide to reveal their accounts of the
trip over drinks, under the condition that they only stick to pleasant memories.
Not realizing that they were in the same place, at the same time, and with the same
people, the two men’s reminiscence of a hot summer unfolds like a catalogue of

Link to Lucy Walker - "Countdown to Zero" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: From Participant Media and producer Lawrence Bender, who last teamed
for the Academy Award® winning An Inconvenient Truth, COUNTDOWN TO ZERO is a
stunning documentary about the escalating global nuclear arms crisis. Written and
directed by Lucy Walker (Waste Land, Blindsight), the film is a fascinating and
frightening exploration of the dangers of nuclear weapons, exposing a variety of
present day threats and featuring insights from a host of international statesmen
and experts. Among the voices are President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez
Musharraf, Tony Blair, former CIA Operations Officer Valerie Plame Wilson, the
Ploughshares Fund’s Joe Cirincione and Stanford political scientist Scott Sagan.
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the
present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities
and others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could
be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. It makes
a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever
with President Obama and other world leaders working to revive this goal today."

Link to Sophie Fiennes - "Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: The film bears witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer’s alchemical
creative processes and renders as a film journey the personal universe he has built
at his hill studio estate in the South of France. In 1993 Kiefer left Buchan, Germany
for La Ribotte, a derelict silk factory near Barjac. From 2000 he began constructing
a series of elaborate installations there, comprising 48 buildings, a labyrinth of
tunnels, bridges, lakes and towers. Traversing this landscape, the film immerses the
audience in the total world and creative process of one of today’s most significant
artists. Shot in cinemascope, the film constructs visual set pieces alongside
observational footage to capture both the dramatic resonance of Kiefer’s art and the
intimate process of creation. This polarity - in terms of scale, sensibility and time
- animates the film, creating a multi-layered narrative through which to navigate the
complex spaces of La Ribotte. Here creation and destruction are interdependent; the
film enters into direct contact with the raw materials Kiefer employs to build his
paintings and sculptures - lead, concrete, ash, acid, earth, glass and gold..."