With the Covid-19 pandemic changing things across the world, everyone is thinking novel methods backed by technology to keep the show going. There is one such innovation by the organisers of Marché
Due to the unusually long delay between the EFM in Berlin and the Marché du Film in Cannes (6-15 July), many international sales agents have expressed the need for an intermediate event in the spring, which will allow them to do business and to network virtually, while awaiting the big rendez-vous in July when the film industry will meet up again in large numbers.
Hence, the Marché du Film is organizing the “Pre-Cannes Screenings”, four days of online screenings, end of May, on a platform that will exclusively offer virtual booths for sales companies and screening rooms in streaming.
This is being done as producers, sales agents, and distributors were pushing for an earlier market. They wanted it to secure financing for projects they can shoot in the summer or, for finished films, to allow time for a theatrical release in early summer by when, it is hoped, cinemas in most regions will again be open after coronavirus shutdowns.
Many independent distributors expect a window of opportunity in the early summer after theaters re-open but before the competitive onslaught of big projects, many of which have been pushed back to the later months to accommodate later cinema openings in the United States.
Access to the pre-Cannes platform will be strictly reserved to buyers already registered with the Marché du Film (either with an online or an onsite accreditation) and this at no extra cost.
In July, the Marché du Film will offer all its usual activities on site in Cannes: stands, screenings, the Village International, networking programs, conferences… Professionals unable to travel will still be able to take part via virtual screenings of certain films, conferences that will be broadcasted simultaneously and some of the networking programs.
The Festival de Cannes will be held this year from July 6 to 17 and the organizers have confirmed that Spike Lee will be the President of the Jury of the 74th edition. Prevented last year due to the Covid crisis, the Festival de Cannes opens this new decade with Spike Lee as President of the Jury.
One of the greatest directors of his generation, Lee is also a screenwriter, actor, editor and producer. For 30 years, the tireless Lee has been an astute chronicler of the questionings of his time, with a resolutely contemporary approach that’s never without a dash of levity and entertainment.
Says Lee, “I am very humble in accepting the offer to be the President of the Jury. I have a special place in my for Paris, for France and the Cannes.”
He also fondly recalls that way back in 1986, his very first film ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ was played at Cannes and it was his first introduction to the world of cinema.
According to Pierre Lescure, President of the Festival, “Throughout the months of uncertainty we’ve just been through, Spike Lee has never stopped encouraging us. This support is finally coming to fruition and we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times.”
Says Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, “His enthusiasm and passion for cinema has given us a huge boost of energy to prepare the great Festival that everybody has been awaiting for. The party will be great, we simply can’t wait!”
From July 6 to 17, 2021 on the Croisette, these 12 days will be a celebration of art and creativity, and full of long-awaited reunions. Preparations are in full swing with a large number of films being viewed by the selection committee.
The Official Selection and the composition of the Jury will be unveiled in early June. Surrounded by the members of his Jury, Spike Lee will award the Palme d’Or at the closing ceremony on Saturday, July 17.
The 73rd Locarno Film Festival is reinventing its 2020 edition and has developed a new initiative, The Films After Tomorrow, aimed at supporting projects that aim to help filmmakers (10 international and 10 Swiss filmmakers) who had their projects put on hold because of Coronavirus pandemic. Locarno managed to raise $220,000 of prize money for The Films After Tomorrow initiative.
FilMart Hong Kong August 26-29
Amid lockdown and travel restrictions, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has decided to migrate the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART) to a virtual platform. FILMART Online will take place from August 26-29 and Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum will take place from August 26-28. The virtual FILMART will enable buyer-seller meets, showcase content and seminars.
Venice International Film Festival Venice, Italy September 2-12
The 77th Venice International Film Festival will be a toned down physical festival. Around 50 films will be part of official selection on July 28. The main competition, Venezia 77, will feature approximately 20 films. All other titles in official selection will debut either in Out of Competition or Horizons sections. Venice Gap Financing Market will happen in virutal format.
Toronto International Film Festival & Market Canada September 10-20
The 45th edition of Toronto International Film Festival will take place September 10–19 with socially distanced screenings, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. For the first time, TIFF will launch a digital platform, affording new opportunities to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. TIFF has partnered with Shift72 to develop this platform to host screenings and events.
Moscow International Film Festival Moscow October 1-8
The 42nd edition of Moscow International Film Festival, Russia’s main international film event, is scheduled to run October 1-8. The objective is to promote cultural exchanges and mutual understanding among nations and to develop further cooperation among filmmakers of the world. It is supported by the Ministry of Cultural Federation and the Department of Culture of the City of Moscow.
MipJunior JW Marriott, Cannes, France October 10-11
MIPJunior 2020 will push beyond physical boundaries with its first ONLINE+ Digital Hybrid Edition. MIPJunior gathers the most influential buyers, commissioners, producers, development executives and distributors from the global Kids TV industry. MIPJunior is the perfect destination for producers to stand out and for buyers to discover the latest kids programming before sealing partnerships at MIPCOM.
MipCom Cannes, France October 12-15
MIPCOM 2020 will push beyond physical bounaries with its first ONLINE+ Digital Hybrid Edition. MIPCOM is the world’s largest exhibition of studios and distributors, as well as the top showcase for content across all genres and platforms. A world-class market place where leading professionals gather to promote hit-defining content, strike distribution and co-production deals and network face-to-face with creative forces.
American Film Market Santa Monica, California November 9-13
The American Film Market will bring its 2020 edition online, said the Independent Film & Television Alliance® (IFTA®). AFM 2020 Online will run from November 9 to November 13. This year will be the 41st market. “AFM 2020 Online will give global film community opportunities that are always critical to our success,” said Michael Ryan, Chairman, IFTA and Partner, GFM Films.
IFFI Goa, India November 20-28
Preparations for 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) have begun. Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its pre-eminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the diversity of Indian cinema The festival will take place in limited physical and online format.
In the aftermath of COVID 19, Cannes Film Market has chalked out an alternative plan to conduct the world’s biggest film market virtually as close to replicate the mirror image of the market from June 22-26, 2020. The Cannes Film Market has not been disrupted since its inception in 1959.
Officially, the Cannes Film Festival is cancelled-first time in 73 years-but the market will happen online. Jérome Paillard, Executive Director and boss of Marché du Film has confirmed the online market plan in his interactions with the media
Accreditation for the Marché du Film Online will be available for industry professionals at an early bird rate of €95 until May 29 and €195 normal rate after that-incl. a one-year subscription to Cinando. The online registration will begin early next week.
The scenario in the decade beginning 2020 has challenged the status quo of the world’s biggest film market. Emerging technology is set to provide solutions for core Cannes Film Market activity-online interactions between film sales companies, OTT platforms, distributors, festivals, and programmers.
Using the Cinando platform-networking app of Marche-Cannes film market will have online market screenings and will adopt same rules and conditions for invitations only access-for sales agents, festival programmers and invitees. The Cinando Technology platform is enabled to provide secured encryption, the rights management, viewership tracking and the Cinando streaming platform is used by Toronto and Cinemania.
Marche will also integrate Zoom video-conferencing software in Cinando’s Match & Meet platform to organise online meetings for delegates and exhibitors which normally would have happened in a booth, cafeteria or buyers lounge. Live streaming of conferences is also being worked out. Marche which had earlier planned to launch Speed Meetings program – one-to-one meetings on co-production, locations, remakes, services, technology will conduct meetings online via Zoom/Kaltura/Vimeo.
Programs and conferences will be readapted to offer the same opportunities for networking and presenting new projects. Booking screenings is free, the cost of uploading the film via Cinando will cost between 6€ and 18€ depending of requested quality and storage duration.
The Producers Network will also be online on the Marché du Film Online platform. At the breakfast meetings every morning from regisered producers network delegates will be be able to interact with Moderators and Guests of Honor who will share their valuable insight on today’s film industry. The producers network events are intended for producers with at least one feature film with a commercial release within the past three years.
The Cannes Film Market’s virtual booth will be something similar to a webpage on the Marché du Film Online platform. The features of the virtual booth (web page) and costings will differ according to adds on and web tools – from the base structure. The exhibitor companies, institutions and country pavilions will be able to design and add features to the wordpress page. Finer details are awaited.
For example, it is possible for country pavilions to host interactive meetings and one-on-one meeting for companies as well as interactions between government representatives of various countries for collaboration.
AT THE VIRTUAL BOOTH (VIA WEB PAGE)
Sales agents will be able to connect with buyers and to display their new films and projects-in-progress at a dedicated online booth.
Online Screenings will be programmed with set schedules in fifteen virtual cinemas to maintain the market momentum and allow time for viewing and negotiation.
Institutions from all over the world will have the chance to present their national cinema, film commissions and film locations, support their producers and organize meetings in a virtual space That mirrors the traditional Village International pavilions.
A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE MARKET
Visit virtual booths and pavilions & discover exclusive films and projects-in-progress in online dedicated spaces as if you were in Cannes!
Sales companies will be able to connect with buyers and institutions from all over the world will present their national cinematography, film commissions and film locations…
Organize meetings in a virtual space with professionals from all over the world via the Marché du Film networking app Match & Meet, integrating video calls.
Attend online screenings – films / project presentations – in about 15 virtual cinemas & enjoy reruns organized in different time zones to allow time for viewing and negotiation! The platform will be based on Cinando’s technology and with strict security measures incl. DRM, individual watermark and real-time management and monitoring of admissions to screenings.
Explore the Marché du Film Online programs & conferences: programs and conferences will for the most part be transported to the digital space: Cannes Docs, Cannes XR, Producers Network, Frontières will be reshaped to this new digital environment.
Join Speed meetings around composers, book publishers or producers.
Discover VR projects with Cannes XR, our program fully dedicated to immersive entertainment, which will present its projects in an environment where films can be viewed with a VR headset.
India’s top animation-filmmaker Gitanjali Rao’s animation feature Bombay Rose will be the Out of Competition opening film at the Venice International Film Festival’s Critics Week Section. The animation film will be screened on August 29.
Bombay Rose is the story of a flower seller who has to make the choice between protecting her family or allowing herself to fall in love. This touching story is set on the streets of Mumbai and moves from real life to fantasy, accompanied by much-loved Bollywood songs from the cinema halls. Painted frame by frame, for which Gitanjali is famed, Bombay Rose is a chronicle of the people who migrate from small towns, seeking minimal life in the maximum city.
“I have always wanted to paint stories about people who live and love in the streets of Bombay, never become success stories, yet their struggle for survival makes heroes out of them. This is the city with its cast of unsung heroes and heroines that I want to share with the world and why I started this labour of love 6 years ago. My hand painted short films have travelled the globe and I have found connections to my films in the most unusual places from Cannes to Kanpur. These fans of my stories give me confidence that my first feature film, Bombay Rose, about simple people with their simple yet impossible dreams can connect with people around the world. I am thrilled that Bombay Rose will be the first Indian animation film to open Venice Critics Week,” says
Gitanjali Rao, –
Produced by Anand Mahindra and Rohit Khattar of Cinestaan Film Company (who also recently executive produced the 3 Academy Award-nominated ‘Cold War’), Bombay Rose has been written, designed and directed by Gitanjali Rao. The film is in co-production with Film d’Ici and was produced at Mumbai based PaperBoat Animation Studios lead by Soumitra Ranade. Working creatively alongside Gitanjali was acclaimed sound designer PM Satheesh.
“Gitanjali’s beautiful film has made us and India proud by being invited to open Critics Week at Venice. It has been our privilege to work with Gitanjali and PaperBoat Studios over the last 2 years to bring this piece of beautiful cinema to life. We are thrilled to share that the prestigious Venice Film Festival shall be the first of many international festival premieres for this stunning love letter to Mumbai and its people,” said Rohit Khattar, Producer and Chairman of Cinestaan Film Company –
Cinestaan Film Company is a boutique film studio committed to nurturing our rich cinematic legacy, by supporting both national and international cinemas. Cinestaan Film Company develops, produces, sells and distributes films across the world and were recently Executive Producers of Cold War, nominated for 3 Academy Awards including ‘Best Foreign Film’.
C International Sales, its Sales Agency specializes in the sale of both Indian and international films seeking global audiences and has successfully represented critically acclaimed films internationally like Hotel Salvation”(Mukti Bhawan) internationally which has been released in over 30 countries.
Cinestaan AA Distributors, it’s JV with AA Films, is the leading overseas distributor propelling big Indian audiences throughout the world into cinemas. Some of the films distributed by Cinestaan AA Distributors are Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion, Stree, Badhaai Ho, Gully Boy and most recently Bharat and Kabir Singh.
La vérité (The Truth), directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu (Shoplifters; The Third Murder; Like Father, Like Son) and starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, will be the opening film in the Competition Section of the 76th Venice International Film Festival (August 28 – September 7, 2019), directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta. La vérité will have its world premiere screening on Wednesday, August 28th in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema at the Venice Lido.
Director Kore-eda Hirokazu said: “It is with great joy that I have learned that my new film, La vérité, has been selected to open the Official Competition of the Venice Film Festival. I am extremely honored. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the entire staff of the festival. We shot the movie in ten weeks last fall in Paris. As officially announced, the cast is prestigious but the film itself recounts a small family story that takes place primarily inside a house. I have tried to make my characters live within this small universe, with their lies, pride, regrets, sadness, joy, and reconciliation. I truly hope you will like this film.”
Festival Director Alberto Barbera said: “For the first film he has directed abroad, Kore-eda had the privilege of working with two major French film stars. The encounter between the universe of Japan’s most important filmmaker today and two beloved actresses like Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, brought to life a poetic reflection on the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and the complex profession of acting. It will be a pleasure to present this movie as the opening film of this year’s Venice Film Festival”.
SYNOPSIS: Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) is a star; a star of French cinema. She reigns amongst men who love and admire her. When she publishes her memoirs, her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) returns from New York to Paris with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and young child. The reunion between mother and daughter will quickly turn to confrontation: truths will be told, accounts settled, loves and resentments confessed.
La vérité is produced by Muriel Merlin, coproducers Miyuki Fukuma, Matilde Incerti. A coproduction by 3B productions Bunbuku & M.i Movies, France 3 cinéma, with participation of France Télévisions, Canal+, Ciné+, Le Pacte, Wild Bunch, Gaga Corporation.
Kore-eda was born in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. After graduating from Waseda University in 1987, Kore-eda joined TV Man Union where he directed several prize-winning documentary programs. In 2014, he launched his production company BUN-BUKU. In 1995, his directorial debut “MABOROSI” won the 52nd Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Osella. “AFTER LIFE” (1998), brought Kore-eda international acclaim. In 2001, “DISTANCE” was selected in Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2004, he presented “NOBODY KNOWS”, Yagira Yuya, the young star in the film, receiving the Cannes’ Best Actor Award. In 2006, “HANA” was presented in San Sebastian and in Toronto. In 2008, he presented the family drama “STILL WALKING”, which reflected his own personal experiences, and received high praise from around the world. In 2009, “AIR DOLL” made its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and was widely-praised for marking a new frontier in its depiction of a sensual love fantasy. In 2011, “I WISH” won the Best Screenplay Award at the 59th San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 2012, he made his TV series directorial debut with Going Home. “LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON” (2013) winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, broke the box office records of this previous films in many territories. In 2015, “OUR LITTLE SISTER” premiered in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival as well at the San Sebastian Film Festival received four awards including Best Film and Best Director at Japan Academy Prize. In 2016, “AFTER THE STORM” premiered in Un Certain Regard at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. In 2017, “THE THIRD MURDER” premiered in Competition at the 74th Venice International Film Festival and won six Awards at Japan Academy Prize. In 2018 “Shoplifters” won the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival and broke the box office records of his previous films.
Submissions are now open for the third edition of the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards 2019, organised by Reed MIDEM.
Dedicated to championing and promoting diverse and inclusive content that can make an impact on wide audiences, the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards will be held on Monday 14 October 2019. The world’s entertainment content market, MIPCOM takes place in Cannes, France from 14-17 October 2019.
Reed MIDEM also aims to ensure that MIP Markets have an inclusive atmosphere and support initiatives from different groups, bring new content creators and create new opportunities for them in the business, and support diversity in executive ranks and writers’ rooms to empower new generations.
“As the global TV industry event, one of MIPCOM’s missions is to push the agenda to encourage equal and positive representation – both in front of and behind the camera. We are so delighted to launch the 3rd edition of the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards, which has quickly become one of the main highlights of the event,” said Laurine Garaude, Director of the Television Division at Reed MIDEM, which organises MIPCOM.
To achieve these goals, Reed MIDEM relies on the support and guidance of the MIP Markets Diversity Advisory Board, comprised of: Bunmi Akintonwa, CEO, Little Black Book Company; Sahar Baghery, Head of Business Development, Amazon Prime Video; Sean Cohan, President, Wheelhouse Entertainment & Chief Business Officer, Wheelhouse Group; David Cornwall, Managing Director, Scorpion Television; David Ellender, President, Global Distribution & Co-productions, Sonar Entertainment; Sallyann Keizer, Managing Director, Sixth Sense Media; David Levine, GM, Disney Channels UK; and Nick Smith, EVP Formats, All3Media International.
This year’s Diversity and Inclusion programme will feature major personalities who are speaking out to create more opportunities and enhance visibility for talent from diverse backgrounds. It will also highlight experts demonstrating the positive impact of diversity, and support a series of networking events bringing together various communities.
A key part of the programme, the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards ceremony is an invitation-only event for some 200 leading TV executives. The winning shows will be chosen by charitable organisations and specialised publications that campaign for equality and inclusion (names to be announced soon), who will reward positive programming across the year that embraces representation in worthy shows. The deadline for submissions is 22 July 2019.
To be eligible, programmes must provide a fair and accurate representation of BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, stand out for originality and excellence in terms of storytelling, casting and production values, challenge stereotypes, and show a positive impact.
Episodes submitted must have aired within the past year (between 1 September 2018 and 21 July 2019) on a linear and/or non-linear platform (first broadcast of any season).
Programmes can be entered in one category only:
MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of Race and Ethnicity . Scripted . Non-Scripted
MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of LGBTQ+ . Scripted . Non-Scripted
MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of Disability . Scripted . Non-Scripted
MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for kids’ programming, across all genres
All submitted programmes will be reviewed by members of the MIP Markets Diversity Advisory Board, along with a panel of TV experts to be announced soon and Reed MIDEM’s editorial team.
Reed MIDEM is pleased to welcome back Diversify TV as partner of this year’s MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards.
Netflix is both a haven and a trap for Indian filmmakers who have always been tempted by Cannes and international exposure. Tempted, and frustrated.
By Pierre Assouline
Indian filmmakers have been totally ignored the past 25 years by Cannes’ Official Competition. Thus, their dilemma of ‘should I go with Netflix and loose out the possible Cannes boost’, is minor compared to filmmakers from countries with cultures better understood by Thierry Frémaux, the Festival General Delegate. His despising sarcastic reply to a Kolkata journalist asking why year after year India was missing from the Competition is hard to forget: “India? What am I supposed to answer? Perhaps that it is a great Cinema country?”.
Evoking the Un Certain Regard section, Frémaux stated: “The eye on India would focus on ‘New Gen’ films rather than offerings from Bollywood or Bengali cinema”. His comment lumping together Bollywood and Bengali films reveals that he is hardly aware of Indian Cinema,what to speak of Indian Culture. Setting ‘New Gen’ against Bengali Cinema shows he is in a time warp, still stuck in the Ray era. Aren’t Rituparno Ghosh, Kaushik Ganguly, or Qaushiq Mukherjee (Q) Bengali? How to categorize their films if not ‘New Gen’? Qaushiq Mukherjee’s (Q) cinema is even ‘New Gen’ within the ‘New Gen’.
Long-gone are the days of the charismatic Gilles Jacob who selected Shaji Karun’s Swaham in Competition and Vanaprastham in Official Selection.
Cannes’ Directors Club only
Although the politically correct 2019 press conference boasts “a balanced selection with the right assortment of stalwarts and newcomers”, the truth is that young directors are mostly considered only after securing all possible seats for “Cannes’ Directors Club members”, or, as Frémaux himself refers to them, the “Subscription Holders”: Ken Loach (returning for the 14th time!), the Dardenne brothers, Jim Jarmush, Marco Bellocchio, Arnaud Desplechin, Pedro Almodóvar, et al.
The danger is a declining Cannes Film Festival every year more detached from contemporary realities.
In 2017, Thierry Frémaux was proudly speaking about his selection of Okja- fully produced by Netflix. At that time, he never expressed the opinion that a film is not a film if not shown on the big screen. Quite the opposite. He stated: “Netflix or not Netflix, Okja is a Cinema film, a Cinema product. Bong Joon-ho is a great contemporary director. He shows us a film, we like the film, we take the film.”
In 2018, Frémaux sang a different tune. He excluded the Netflix film to which it is the hardest to deny the quality and title of Cinema: Roma, by Alfonso Cuaron. Why the one-eighty? The pressure of French film industry heavyweights, the very ones he owes his seat to? Not only.That exclusion reveals a Cannes’ rising awareness that Netflix is a threat to the very sustainability of its conservative model.
Far from being merely technical,the disagreement is not about the sacrosanct chronology of media in France which forbids an OTT platform to stream a film before 17 months following a theatrical release(hence Netflix’s refusal to allow any French theatrical exhibition for its productions). The rivalry is really all about both parties’ stubbornness to stand by their respective vision of what Cinema is.
Held hostage filmmakers
Filmmakers find themselves hostages of this power struggle. The situation of “The other Side of the Wind”,an unfinished film by Orson Welles is a case in point. After decades of knocking at studios’ doors, Welles’ daughter, Beatrice Welles-Smith, could still not complete the film. Finally, Netflix came to the rescue for full financing. But Netflix failed to back her dream of seeing her father being honored at Cannes for the final curtain of his cinematic career. Netflix, and not Cannes which has indeed proposed a special screening Out of Competition in Official Selection. Netflix turned down the offer, thus revealing a higher concern for the enforcement of the Netflix model rather than for any one of the titles it has funded.
Filmmakers never asked for a confrontation between the world’s largest Film Festival and the OTT giant. Their interest is not to have to choose. They want and may deserve both.
Netflix may not bestow Indian filmmakers’ work the glamour and prestige that Cannes has specialized in over the years (when not turned into a pitiless crushing machine), but they and other major OTTs make films available to millions. For the first time in history, Indian Cinema is being watched by a majority of non-diaspora global audience.
To indulge in a ‘The Fox and the Grapes’ attitude of “What cannot be had, you speak of badly” plays into the “us and they” mentality that is stifling the Cannes Festival at present. Cannes still has unique benefits. To belittle it as a relic of a past that is out of sync with the way cinema is watched today cannot be honest. Why then wouldn’t Indian filmmakers consider Netflix as a possible stepping-stone for a future Cannes-eligible feature film?
Even if series like Sacred Games (2 non-Indian viewers out of 3) surpass by far the D2C international capacity of feature films (an evaluation based on acquisitions and not yet on Originals), Indian feature filmmakers should grab the opportunity of content-thirsty Netflix and other competitive global or domestic OTT platforms. While at it, they can incidentally relish the creative freedom of swapping Kafkaesque CBFC whims for non-restrictive OTTs Best Practices code.
Cannes? Worry about it later.
Pierre Assouline,a producer in France and India with Selections and Awards including Competition in Venice, Competition and Jury Award in Locarno, Competition in Toronto, Official Selection in Cannes, National Award in India, Pierre Assouline currently works at establishing “The Uplifting Cinema Project”, a production slate of universal and uplifting films conveying India’s beauty to the world.
With ability to tackle sensitive issues head on through a bold and provocative approach, Arab cinema has come of age, helping movies from the region enter some of the most important festivals the world over – By Gautaman Bhaskaran
Incredible as it may sound, Arab cinema has taken off to dizzying heights in the past five years or so. And one of the singularly most important reason for this is the cinema’s ability to stay focussed. In about 90 to 110 minutes, an Arab movie grips us with its story, which, I dare say, can be bold and provocative, raising sensitive issues and getting into them head on – which Indian films have not been allowed to do, either by the administration or political groups.
It is this approach of Arab cinema that has helped it to enter some of the most important festivals the world over. While India has not had a title in either Cannes or Venice Competition for many years, Arab works have scored here. Last year, two movies from the Middle East – Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum and first-timer Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine – ran for one of the most prestigious awards in the world of cinema, the Palm d’Or at the Canes Film Festival. And as Arab cinema programmer Intishal Al Timimi, who heads Egypt’s two-edition-old El Gouna Film Festival, points out,”2018 turned out to be a great year for the region’s cinema, and in recent years 70% of the winning works by Arab directors at international movie festivals are first or second features, which bodes well for the future of Arab cinema.”
Indeed so. Capernaum won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2018, and is now one of the five competing for the Foreign Language Oscar. Probably, it will walk away with the trophy. For, the other important contender, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, in this section is also listed under the Best Picture category in the general list, and it has an excellent chance of winning. This leaves Capernaum as a clincher, the other three including Poland’s Cold War, are not in the same league as Labaki’s creation.
The other 2018 Cannes Competition entry, Yomeddine, is a brutal, unflinching look at the life of a leper, an actual leper, who soon after the death of his wife gets on to his donkey cart and goes in search of his long estranged family in Egypt’s Luxor. The trip from Cairo, where he had been living, to Luxor is extremely eventful with some sad and some happy incidents. What is most significant, the helmer does not make his work a celebration of disfigurement, and underlines the cruelty of a society towards lepers. We saw this long, long ago in the 1960s Ben-Hur, where people afflicted with this disease were shut away in a cave!
Societal unfeeling attitude is also brought out most starkly in the Tunisian drama, Beauty and the Dogs, by Kaouther Ben Hania (who earlier gave us Imams Go To School and Zaineb Hates The Snow). Hania’s latest adventure is based on a real-life incident in 2012, and looks at a young woman, who is raped when she gets out of a party at night. Her nightmare continues when she walks into a police station to file a complaint, but she meets a wall. For, the perpetrators of the crime are the cops themselves, the guardians of the community. The film is fearless in the way it attacks and exposes not only the men in uniform, but also hospital staff and doctors – all of whom turn monstrously unsympathetic to the woman’s horrific plight.
(Compare this with India, where we refused to let Indo-Canadian moviemaker, Richie Mehta, to shoot Delhi Crime Story on the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape in Delhi. I do not know how Mehta managed to put the movie together, but it is now premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.)
Community’s indifference – even rank neglect towards – those men and women who are down is also magnified in Tunisian writer-director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud’s latest outing, Fatwa, which won the Best Movie award at the Carthage Film Festival and also the Saad Eldin Wahba Prize for Best Arab Movie at the Cairo International Film Festival.
Fatwaexplores extremism in Tunisia, and how it hits the families of those involved. The work is a deeply disturbing look at the radicalization of Tunisian youth and sheds light on a system that offers little in the way of reformation — even for former extremists who have had a change of heart, but are thrown into jail with little hope for the future.
Conflict has been a favourite theme of Middle-Eastern writers and directors, and they have talked it most animatedly in their cinema, and how it destroys hope (like we see in Fatwa) and peace – as in Syrian moviemaker Soudade Kaadan’s feature debut, The Day I Lost My Shadow, screened at El Gouna last year. It narrates the horrors of the internecine strife in her country, filtered through a simple story of a mother’s desire to give her son a hot meal. Partly folklore and partly magic realism, based on the idea that those who lose their shadows lose their souls, the director weaves a distressing account of disruption and disappointment.
Guiding us through some of the most tension-ridden situations imaginable, as the mother walks through forests, dodges sniper fire and hides from trigger-happy rebels fighting government forces, Kadan conveys most profoundly how such bloody wars can rob people of their souls, if not their lives. Venice artistic chief Alberto Barbera called the movie “an impressive depiction of one of the most tragic realities of the past decades.”
Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author of a biography on Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and a leading cinema writer who has covered Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, Cairo and other movie festivals for years – tracing their journeys through fascinating films. He may be e-mailed at email@example.com, and he tweets at @gautamanb
2011 Special Screening Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever told Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Jeff Zimbalist Actors: Javed Akhtar, Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and others
2010 Un Certain Regard Udaan Director: Vikramaditya Motwane Actors: Rajat Barmecha, Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor
2007 All Cinemas of the World section To commemorate 60 Years of Indian Independence and 60 Years of Cannes Film Festival India was the focus country at Cannes Film Festival in 2007. The seven Indian movies selected for this section include Saira Directed by Dr Biju, Missed Call (Directed by Mridul Toolsidass & Vinay Subramanian), Guru ( Directed by Mani Ratnam), Dosar (Directed by Rituparno Ghosh), Veyil (Directed by Vasanthabalan), Dharm (Directed by Bhavna Talwar) and Lage Raho Munnabhai (Directed by Raj Kumar Hirani).
2005 Out of Competition Section Pather Pachali directed by Satyajit Ray Actors: Subir Bannerjee, Runki Bannerjee, Uma Das Gupta
2002 Retrospective of Raj Kapoor in 2002 A retrospective of Raj Kapoor: 1948’s Aag, 1949’s Barsaat and 1951’s Awaara.
Out of Competition Devdas directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali Actors: Jackie Shroff, Kiron Kher, Aishwarya Rai, Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit
1999 Un Certain Regard Marana Simhasanam directed by Murali Nair First film Actors: Lakshmi Raman, Vishwas Njavakkal, Sudhas Thayat
Un Certain Regard Vanaprastham directed by Shaji N. Karun Actors: Venmani Haridas, Mohanlal, Suhasini
1997 Un Certain Regard Gudia directed by Goutam Ghose Actors: Mithun Chakraborty, Nandana Dev Sen, Pran, Masood Akhtar, Mohan Agashe
1996 Competition Section Oru Neenda Yathra directed by Murali Nair Actors: K. G. Ramu, M. M. Roy, Parvati,