Ten Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Cannes this Year

Mon May 05,2014


by E. Nina Rothe

Cannes is undoubtedly a name that conjures up images of glamour, celebrities and French Riviera joie-de-vivre. Yet when I see those ten plus days in the middle of May fast approaching on my calendar, along with my excitement I also feel a bit of dread. There is no festival quite like the Festival de Cannes. And the reasons it's so are a mixture of incredible films, a cinematic market like no other, premieres and events that run back to back and seem to go on forever, and the unbelievable crowds of journalists, media professionals, producers, distributors and celebrities in attendance. In simpler words, from the mouth of one lone writer with a passion for cinema, incredibly stressful.

But don't misunderstand me, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do than rub shoulders with my colleagues while waiting for a film's premiere, in front of the Palais de Festival, that magical building where most screenings take place. I also can't wait to catch up with those cinematic personalities that converge on Cannes from May 14th to the 25th, and watch the buzz build in the buzziest place on earth, the Croisette. When people say "I've got the best job in the world" I usually disagree. Because, really, I do.

Following are ten very personal highlights for this year's festival. Since Cannes is mostly, firstly and absolutely about films, but not only…

‘Grace of Monaco’

Announced months ago to be the opening film of this year's 67th edition of the festival, this Nicole Kidman starrer also boasts wonderful performances by Tim Roth and Frank Langella. The real-life royalty of Monaco combine with the make-believe royalty of the acting world to create a fairy tale project. Directed by French filmmaker Olivier Dahan, whose previous work include 'La Vie en Rose', the film will open nearly worldwide on the 15th of May, the day after its premiere in Cannes, though perhaps not in the US… I'm personally hoping the issues with US distribution can be resolved because, after all, who doesn't like an actress-turned-princess-turned-tragedy story? On a behind-the-scenes aside, the film is co-produced by Yash Raj films, which also has the film 'Titli' in competition this year, in Un Certain Regard.

‘Grace of Monaco’ trailer here

‘Maps to the Stars’

Up to now, I haven't been a huge follower of the "Baron of Blood", as Canadian-born filmmaker David Cronenberg is known to his fans. Horror, in any way shape or form, is not my thing. But his upcoming ‘Maps to the Stars', starring Julianne Moore, Robert Pattison and John Cusack promises not to be his usual fare. Think more melancholic look into the lives of the rich and famous than gory entertainment, which is why I'll give this one a try. Plus, the cast does look yummy.

Trailer of 'Maps to the Stars' here

Film website: http://mapstothestarsfilm.com/

‘Goodbye to Language’ 3D (Adieu au Langage)

Yup, you read that right, grand maestro Jean-Luc Godard's latest oeuvre is in 3D. And no, it's not going to be your typical multiplex 3D movie, rather a very complex tale of a woman, a man and a dog, featuring a film within a film. While the synopsis sounds strange, the idea appears fantastically cinematic and this being Godard, there is no question I'll get up at the crack of dawn to stand in the long, long line to the first screening of this future masterpiece -- wouldn't you? Oh, and it also features French Algerian actor Kamel Abdelli, a talent to discover.

'Goodbye to Language' website: http://www.wildbunch.biz/films/goodbye_to_language_3d

‘Challat of Tunis’

Screened at the tenth edition of DIFF, Kaouther Ben Hania's film set in Tunis and featuring a woman's battle of wills against a moped-riding, razor blade wielding prowler who slashed women ten years earlier is screening in the ACID program at Cannes. ACID is a filmmaker's association that fights its own battle to help promote and find distribution for films that would not traditionally find a commercial market. It's a great cause, one near and dear to my heart, and a great film. Yet another instance where DIFF knew it, and knew it first. Considering that this year the program is conspicuously missing some great MENA film fare in the Competition and Un Certain Regard sections, this is one film that's high on my list.

‘Challat of Tunis’ Trailer here

ACID 2014 program in Cannes here

‘The Aftermath of The Inauguration of The Public Toilet At Kilometer 375’

This 18 minutes long film by Omar El Zohairy may be short in length but it is heavy in heft, since it carries the title of being the first student film from Egypt to ever be screened in the Cinefondation Selection in Cannes. Another of the few, count them on the fingers of one hand, titles from MENA in this year's festival, we are rooting for some good things for this groundbreaking project, although searching for an image or some video from the film proved more difficult than imagined. You can follow the filmmaker on Twitter however...

Omar El Zohairy’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/zohairyo



Indian cinema has come a long way from the days of just singing and dancing, in wonderfully colorful costumes. While the Bollywood genre is still a best seller, Hindi cinema has developed into something mysteriously dark, as in the films of Cannes favorite Anurag Kashyap. But this year, Kashyap being conspicuously absent, his torch in representing new Indian cinema, is carried by Kanu Behl, who co-wrote ‘LSD’ (Love, Sex aur Dokha), along with filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee, who returns the favor by being co-producer on ‘Titli’. ‘LSD’ turned out to be one of the pioneering films of alternative Indian cinema and changed the way young, upwardly mobile Indian audiences watched films. 'Titli' also stars Ranvir Shorey, an actor who is the go-to star for characters with a twist and one of my personal favorite thespians in world cinema today. Set in the badlands of Delhi's underbelly, this film is bound to combine all of the darkness, with some of the humor of all these talents combined, to make for great entertainment. One of at least two Yash Raj co-productions in Cannes this year.

‘Titli’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Titlithefilm

‘Two Days, One Night’

Film should help make us more aware of the world around us. At its best use, it holds a special, socially conscious way of changing our minds, making us notice the real deal, away from the headlines. Perhaps the most incredible pioneers in what I like to call “cinema with a conscience” are the Dardenne brothers: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. This Belgian duo who write, direct and produce all their films together, show a gritty side to life that manages to change laws (as their 1999 film ‘Rosetta’ did in Belgium) and open minds.

Their latest film promises to be no different in theme but slightly more glammed up, thanks to the presence of French star Marion Cotillard. Although, as stars go, Cotillard is one of the most down-to-earth ones, with a mission to make films that get to the heart of the matter. And the Dardennes are Cannes royalty really, having been among the very few (seven in total!) to have won the coveted Cannes d’Or twice.

‘Snow in Paradise’

When Andrew Hulme's film crowdfunded on Kickstarter in the summer of 2013, the film's tagline read "WARNING: a film that does NOT portray Muslims as terrorists." In fact, 'Snow in Paradise' tells a story loosely based on Martin Askew's life experiences, of growing up amidst the violence of London's East End, yet finding his peace through Islam. The project is therefore high up on my list of must-watch, because it is based on a real person -- though names and some incidents have been changed to make the film a dramatic narrative, and definitely not a documentary -- and because it deals with a theme that I find both true and very needed, in our ever-divisive, media-confused world.

'Snow in Paradise' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SnowInParadise

‘Saint Laurent’

You can't have Cannes without glamour, and fashion this year is going to be a big part of the festival. Among the trend-setting films is 'Saint Laurent', directed by Bertrand Bonello, who is not known for making meek films -- if you get my meaning. This biopic on the great Moroccan-born star of French fashion promises to put all other fashion films to shame. I'm excited because along with food and film, I believe fashion is an art. And because I am looking forward to learning more about the man behind the mythical, at times controversial fashion icon.

DPA Gift Lounge

Last but not least, while on the subject of fashion and style, the one stop I live by in Cannes is the suite inside the glamorous Carlton hotel where the DPA gift lounge, run by Nathalie Dubois-Sissoko, is housed. It's like a candy store combined with a toy store for adults in there. It’s also a particularly magical place this year, because ‘Grace of Monaco’ opens the festival and one of the great films of Grace Kelly’s career, ‘To Catch a Thief’, was filmed in, and on the Carlton.

On a personal note, last year I found myself walking out with so many bags, filled to the brim with goodies and fun novelties, my stride finally felt at ease on the Croisette and I possessed an extra bounce in my step passing the Chanel and Christian Dior shops. Truly, nobody does a gift lounge the way Dubois-Sissoko does and when in Cannes, she's as high on my list as any and all films.

DPA Group Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DPAGROUP

For all info on the Festival de Cannes, check out their official website: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en.html

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