Postcard from Cannes #9 : Place your bets

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It’s been a whirlwind two weeks at the 2022 Cannes film festival, where dreams definitely came true for some at the awards ceremony on Saturday night. As the names of the winners were read out, those who had seen the films shouted with joy, while others sighed, disappointed that they had not placed the “winning bet”.

Covering Cannes is like going to the “cinema casino”: from the moment the official selection is released in April, the roulette wheel starts spinning and all bets are on.

I admit that I was disappointed not to have seen the Palme d’Or “Triangle of sadness” by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund. A colleague told me that he thought I had a good chance of winning an award, but I chose to focus on other films and ran out of time. Oops.

French actor Vincent Lindon, who headed the jury, also wished he had more time.

In his speech, he jokingly called for his term to be extended, saying that one festival was not enough.

His elegantly phrased remark “let’s be reasonable and ask for the impossible…we need four more years” was met with appreciative laughs.

win something lose something

When Claire Denis’s “Stars at Noon” was announced as one of two films to share the Grand Prize, I was thrilled to see that she had been interviewed earlier in the week.

But since I hadn’t seen Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s second prize “Close”, I was wondering what I had missed.

The best director award went to Park Can-wook from South Korea, a big favorite with bookmakers and most of the people RFI spoke to. Phew! I saw his weird romantic detective story “Decision to Leave” and it’s exciting to say that my “first park” was a winner at Cannes.

cannes heavyweights

I really enjoyed “Broker” for which Song Kang-ho was named Best Actor. The Korean was all smiles as he took the stage to receive his award for his role in the quirky family adoption drama by previous Palme d’Or winner, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t mention the other winners here… I didn’t see these movies and I have nothing but gossip to share.

Let’s be honest, with only 24 hours in a day (and minimal sleep required!), how can you fit in 24 films from the main competition, especially when so many are from veteran Cannes entrants?

On top of that, how can you fit in with the exciting and exotic side events like Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, plus some beachside parties? Sssh, don’t tell the boss about that last one, even if it provides some interesting research.

suspense

Aside from the name of the directors, the cast, the film’s location, and a brief synopsis, there is very little information ahead of the festival, much of which was intentionally kept “secret” to build suspense.

Once the two-week festival begins, word starts to spread, critic ratings pop up, trailers hit the internet, and there are the personal favorites of pros and amateurs alike. The wheel spins faster and faster…

With just a few days to go before the closing ceremony, journalists are running around like crazy trying to tie up loose ends and watch the films they think can win something, so they have an opinion and material for an article.

Had to bail out and go for a swim as my brain was fried by day 10!

risky business

Things don’t always go as planned. Interviews are expected, scheduled, and sometimes canceled. Everyone leaves with a list of movies to watch later once they are released in theaters. Or not. Maybe that’s for the best. That’s part of the fun of Cannes.

Although I enjoyed the main competition, the highlight of this 75th edition of Cannes was being able to see so many documentaries. From South Sudan to Ukraine, through the streets of French cities, I was transported around the world to better understand the challenges people face and how they deal with them.

Who knows, maybe as one person suggested, the “best movie” at Cannes in terms of box office and popularity might well be Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was screened out of competition for the first week.

But Cannes isn’t really about the box office or the ratings. Rather it is a risky business based on passion (the casino metaphor seems to fit here again) with no guarantee of outcome.

Millions of dollars, hundreds of people, years of work and tireless advertising…all of that for a couple of hours in a dark room and maybe a happy customer at the end. Long live France! Live the cinema!

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