69th Cannes Film Festival


by Joanna Orland

The Cannes Film Festival is a celebration of cinema on an international level, showcasing innovation and raising the profile of the films it selects for its strands.  The festival is the most famous of its kind, and also considered to be the most prestigious.  It is one of the world’s largest film festivals as in addition to its main film strands, it hosts the Marché du Film, an entire film market where deals big and small are being made on an hourly basis.  It integrates independent sub-festivals which run in parallel to the main one, with their own star power and big films on display.  It entertains parties galore along the famous Croisette and across the French Riviera.  It sees celebrities aplenty flocking to Cannes to display themselves on the red carpet and at these extravagant parties.  Cannes Film festival is the premiere destination for film industry, celebrities and cinephiles alike.

This year’s festival jury presided over by Mad Max auteur George Miller consisted of an array of famous talent including Arnaud Desplechin, Kirsten Dunst, Valeria Golino, Mads Mikkelsen, László Nemes, Vanessa Paradis, Katayoon Shahabi and Donald Sutherland.  It’s the jury’s responsibility to choose the winners out of the films in competition which are all eligible for the top festival awards, including the illustrious Palme d’Or.  This year’s selection was a controversial one sparking much debate surrounding gender issues in particular, from the lack of women behind the camera to the way woman are portrayed in the competition films.  It had its ups and downs and its polarizing moments including the simultaneous boos and standing ovation received by Personal Shopper, and the abuse shouted at The Neon Demon at the press screening while the main audience gave it a seven minute standing ovation.

View our videos from the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

In Competition

The Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival highlights diversity in cinema through its different sections, the two most important of which are the Competition and Un Certain Regard.  The films which represent a wider appeal and a more auteurist approach to filmmaking are shown in the Competition section.  As there is so much to do in Cannes during the festival, of the twenty-one films in this year’s Competition, we only managed to review the following:

Juste La Fin Du Monde (It’s Only the End of the World)
Directed by Xavier Dolan
Starring Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel

Xavier Dolan is a prodigy at age 27, with a more prolific directorial career than most seasoned filmmakers. His latest film Juste La Fin Du Monde sees the director team up with his most famous cast to date, leaving behind the Quebecois talent pool for a selection of what can undeniably be considered France’s most renowned actors. The well-known cast collectively play a highly dysfunctional family whose prodigal son Louis (Ulliel) returns home after an absence of twelve years. Louis plans on announcing his upcoming death to his family, but as the dysfunction unravels, so do his plans… read more

Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass and Michael Shannon

Jeff Nichols has a distinct directorial style which he has carved out through his ambient rural dramas including Take Shelter and Mud. It’s a dubious thought to consider Nichols taking on a true story, including that of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who married and then spent the next nine years of their lives fighting for the right to live with their family in their hometown in Virginia. Their civil rights case Loving v. Virginia was a high profile one that made it to the Supreme Court in 1967, reaffirming the right to marry and opening the door to marriage for all diverse couples who have come since… read more

Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani

A dry yet slightly surreal character study of a bus driver with an inclination towards reading and writing poetry, Paterson is a minimalist observation of the everyday life of an everyday man. Adam Driver plays Paterson, a bus driver in the city of Paterson New Jersey. Paterson’s love of poetry is the grand metaphor of this film as his own observations provide inspiration for his poetry while his own life is filled with workaday prose. The abstract meets the ordinary in the life of this bus driver, as the audience is the observer of a week in the life of Paterson… read more

The Handmaiden (Mademoiselle)

Directed by Park Chan-wook
Starring Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook and Moon So-ri

Part one of The Handmaiden may come as a surprise to those familiar with the work of director Park Chan-wook. The film which is set in 1930’s Korea during the period of Japanese occupation, begins as a tame tale of a young handmaiden (Sookee) who is hired to care for Japanese heiress Hideko who lives a secluded life in the countryside alongside her Uncle Kouzuki. Sookee is living a lie. The young handmaiden is really a thief who has been recruited by a con artist who needs her help to seduce the Lady and steal her fortune. Plans go awry as Sookee and Hideko begin a sensually erotic love affair… read more

The Neon Demon

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, Desmond Harrington, Karl Glusman, Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves

“Beauty isn’t everything – it’s the only thing,” says one of the many vacuous characters in Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest polarizing film The Neon Demon. No words ring truer with this film as this shallow portrayal of beauty, envy and cannibalism is pure trash – but my goodness, the world of women looks stunning through the male gaze… read more

Out of Competition

The Out of Competition films that are shown at Cannes tend to be ones that are noted in the worldwide cinematic calendar.  For example, the latest Steven Spielberg and Shane Black films find themselves premiering here, much as Mad Max: Fury Road did last year.  Our reviews:

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement and Rebecca Hall

One of the world’s most beloved directors has adapted the work of one of the most beloved children’s authors as Steven Spielberg presents Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the classic tale of the Big Friendly Giant and his friendship with a young orphan girl named Sophie is brought to life in a highly sophisticated way, with the excellent craftsmanship you always get with a Spielberg film. Sadly, this cinematic mastery is likely lost on children, the primary audience for this rendition of The BFG story. And lacking the multilayered substance required in a children’s film for it to translate into enjoyment for adults, it’s rather hard to decipher exactly who this film has been made for… read more

The Nice Guys
Directed by Shane Black
Starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley and Kim Basinger

In 1970’s Los Angeles, inauspicious private detective Holland March (Gosling) teams up with muscle-for-hire Jackson Healy (Crowe) to solve the case of a missing girl named Amelia. Amelia is no ordinary girl as she seems to be firmly embedded in the Hollywood porn industry while those around her end up meeting their fate. March and Healy are the Riggs and Murtaugh of this generation as Lethal Weapon writer Shane Black directs what feels like a companion piece to the beloved series… read more

Women In Motion

Launched jointly by Kering and the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 as part of an official five year partnership, the Women in Motion programme celebrates women in cinema as it promotes the need for diversity and change.  The series of talks by prominent female film talent was made up of a heavyweight lineup this year.  Among the 2016 speakers were Jodie Foster, Salma Hayek, Juliette Binoche, Chloë Sevigny, and Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis who were collectively awarded the Women In Motion award, honouring their contribution to the movie industry and the women’s cause.

Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis
Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

The aim of the Women in Motion programme is to encourage reflection, discussion, and change on the place of women in the film industry both on and off screen. Who better than the founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to fuel this discussion alongside Susan Sarandon, her costar in one of the most successful female-led films of all time – Thelma & Louiseread more

Chloe Sevigny
Chloë Sevigny

“The more women in power we have, the better it is for us,” says Chloë Sevigny at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Sevigny is in Cannes promoting her short film Kitty, her directorial debut which tells the story of a young girl who finds herself transforming into a kitten as she grows up… read more

Director’s Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs)

The Director’s Fortnight is organized independently by the French Directors’ Guild who run the event in parallel to the main Cannes Film Festival.  Presenting international and world premieres, the Director’s Fortnight’s main objective is to showcase new talent and to display the latest in cinematic trends.  Among the most promising films showing at this year’s Director’s Fortnight were Ma vie de courgette (My Life as a Courgette), a sweet animated film that garnered much praise.  The most buzzworthy screening at the Fortnight was surely NerudaNo director Pablo Larraín’s latest film starring Gael Garcia Bernal.  But, we saw neither of these…

Dog Eat Dog
Directed by Paul Schrader
Starring Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe and Matthew Cook

Once I realized that Dog Eat Dog director Paul Schrader is none other than THE Paul Schrader who directed The Canyons starring Lindsay Lohan, everything about this film made sense… read more

Two Lovers and a Bear

Directed by Kim Nguyen
Starring Dane DeHaan and Tatiana Maslany

Two Lovers and a Bear is not your typical love story, obviously. Set in the Canadian Arctic, the film tells the story of Roman (DeHaan) and Lucy (Maslany), two lovers who find a connection in spite of, or perhaps because of, the issues each has with their father. Their love is a youthful naive one as they believe that love can conquer all – even their demons. What begins as the juvenile love story of Roman and Lucy strays into something much more interesting as the film dips its toe into a variety of genres, boldly taking influence directly from such films as The Thing and 127 Hoursread more

Our interview with Dane DeHaan.

Dane DeHaan


Cannes 2016 Photo Gallery:

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