“We are filmmakers from two countries: Belgium and Cannes. » Luc Dardenne is only half joking. With his brother Jean-Pierre, the filmmaker knows what he owes to the Festival. In a word: everything. “By revealing our films to the eyes of the whole world, adds the director who claims his dual nationality, the Festival has had a considerable influence on our career. We continue our story, for the moment always happy. » Since the selection of ” The promise “ , at the Directors’ Fortnight in 1996, a bitter film where Belgians, then unknown, were already zooming in on the social realities of their time, all the films of the Dardenne, these arch-spoiled children of the Festival, were presented in competition. All ! With, as a high point, two Palmes d’or (“Rosetta”, in 1999, “L’Enfant”, in 2005) and, “incidentally”, a host of other awards: Screenplay Prize in 2008 (” Le silence de Lorna”), Grand Prize in 2011 (“Le gamin au vélo”), Prize for directing in 2019 (“Le Jeune Ahmed”)… Faithful to the appointment, the brothers are back this year with “Tori and Lokita”, a new black work in which they evoke the fate of two migrants lost in Belgium. A film that may allow them to win a third Palme, which would be a great first in the long history of the festival.
The darling bonus
An isolated case the Dardenne? Fifty times no… Belgian filmmakers are not the only darlings of a Festival which, according to established formulas, loves to pamper “subscriber” directors who have their “napkin ring” there. Among these eminent directors who have considered Cannes as a second home for ages and present (almost) all their films there: Ken Loach (two Palmes d’Or: “The Wind Rises”, in 2006 and “Me, Daniel Blake », in 2016), Nanni Moretti (Palme d’or with « La Chambre du fils », in 2001), Sean Penn, Bruno Dumont – a (really) non-exhaustive list. This year again, in addition to the Dardennes, many directors revealed at Cannes are returning for yet another lap, such as the Australian Baz Luhrmann, present for this 75and edition with his long-awaited “Elvis” (out of competition) which succeeds in these ultra-mediatized places to his first film (“Ballroom Dancing”) or the memorable “Moulin Rouge”. Another eloquent example: the Romanian Cristian Mungiu who is offering this year in the “RMN” competition. Since the Palme d’or obtained in 2007 for his second feature film, “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”, the talented director has shown, like the Dardennes, all his films at Cannes. All !
When asked about this propensity to always come back to the same, or even about a possible favouritism, Thierry Frémaux, the general delegate of the Festival, explains a little annoyed that it is logical that the biggest festival in the world invites the biggest filmmakers (“Should the Louvre take down ‘The Mona Lisa’?” he pretends to wonder), and emphasizes that Cannes has always given pride of place to beginners who are by definition unknown. New babies in the Cannes cradle who will perhaps become the “subscribers” of tomorrow. A look in the rear view mirror proves him right. It is in the nursery of the Festival that future “sizes” have taken their first steps and revealed themselves to the amazed eyes of the world. The American Quentin Tarantino, 29 years old at the time, uttered his original cry there in 1992 with “Reservoir Dogs”, winning a Palme d’or two years later with “Pulp Fiction” and presented most of his films.
Ditto for his compatriot Jim Jarmusch, revealed in 1984 at the age of 31 with his very cult “Strangers than Paradise” (Golden Camera), omnipresent since that date in competition and even achieving the feat, in 2016, of present two films in the official selection: a fiction ( “Paerson” ) and a documentary about Iggy Pop and the Stooges (“ Gimme Danger “). Same observation for the tricolor Arnaud Desplechin, invited from his first medium-length film made, at the age of 30, in 1991 (“The life of the dead”) and then selected for almost all of his films. For an overwhelming result on the list since he systematically leaves empty-handed from his stay on the Croisette. Which does not prevent him, fair play, from always coming back to try his luck. The proof this year with “Brother and Sister”, which earned him another appearance in competition. His seventh attempt at winning an award…
The dirty kids
Other kids from Cannes, less well brought up, resent this “scandalous” lack of recognition on the prize list and let it be known. Thus Xavier Dolan, the Canadian “prodigy” revealed at Cannes in 2009 at the age of 20 with “I killed my mother” and has been selected almost systematically since. Annoyed to get “only” a Grand Prix in 2016 for “Just the end of the world” and ulcerated by certain criticisms, the favorite son denounced grumpy “the culture of hatred in which the festival has sunk”.
Not less. Other annoyances are more problematic and it happens that, after outings of dubious taste, ex-spoiled children become pariahs in the big family. The unmanageable Lars von Trier, historical darling and Palme d’or in 2000 for “Dancer in the Dark”, was thus excluded from the Festival in 2011 after having mentioned his “empathy” for Adolf Hitler. After winning two Palmes, d’or (“Dad is on a business trip”, in 1985 and “Underground” in 1995); Emir Kusturica, he couldn’t stand not appearing in the official selection in 2017 with “On the Milky Road” and let Thierry Frémaux know via an avenging SMS: “You are not my friend anymore! »
But not all of them are brats. And most of them, having become wise adults, know how to recognize their debt to the “mother company”. Jacques Audiard, 70 years old and many times selected and awarded (Palme d’or in 2015 with “Dheepan”, “Watch men fall”. A decisive selection: “At that time, I doubted a lot and didn’t know yet if I would really become a filmmaker. Cannes recognition played a considerable role for the rest of my career. » Words that resemble those uttered over the years by many directors who, revealed at Cannes, flourished there and presented all or almost all of their films there, such as the Austrian Michael Haneke (double Palme d’or with ” The White Ribbon”, in 2009, and “Amour”, in 2012) or the Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu, discovered in 2000 with “Amours Chiennes” presented at Critics’ Week and who would never have known international consecration and won several Oscars for “Birdman” and “The Revenant” without this initial Cannes selection.
“Cinema runs through the veins of the planet and this Festival is its heart”, he declared, lyrically, in 2019, a year when… he chaired the jury of the Festival. Like him, most of these spoiled children, when they are not presenting films in competition, are frequently invited to judge their peers within the said jury. Regulars like Tarantino, Moretti, Kusturica, Cronenberg (in competition this year with “The Crimes of the Future”), the Coen brothers or the eternal loser Pedro Almodovar (never honored with a palm, despite his six participations) chaired it , while Mungiu, Desplechin and Dolan, among others, participated. “For a filmmaker and a cinephilesaid Tarantino in 2004, the year of his presidency, there is no greater dream than to participate in the Cannes jury. For me, it’s the crowning achievement of an existence entirely devoted to cinema, my favorite obsession. »
These Cannes-born filmmakers are not the only ones still present on the Croisette. Some actors also compete in attendance. The palm to Isabelle Huppert with 28 films presented, two interpretation awards (for “Violette Nozière”, by Claude Chabrol, in 1978, and “The Pianist”, by Michael Haneke, in 2001) and a presidency of the jury in 2009, a year when, as the world of Cannes is very small, the Palme d’Or was awarded to… Michael Haneke. In line with Queen Isabelle, other actresses are like model little girls. At the top of the list: Marion Cotillard, a good student whose perseverance we can salute since, despite her outstanding performances at Audiard, Desplechin, the Dardennes or, last year, Leos Carax (“Annette”), she is never managed to win the much-desired Performance Award.
An enviable fate that Léa Seydoux has already known (honored in 2013 for her performance in “La vie d’Adèle”, by Abdellatif Kechiche) who can legitimately claim to enter the Cannes record books. On display last year were… four films from the official selection (“France”, by Bruno Dumont, “Tromperie”, by Arnaud Desplechin, “The French Dispatch”, by Wes Anderson, “History of my wife” , by Idikó Enyedi), but physically absent from the Croisette due to Covid, the actress, member of the jury in 2018, is doing it again this year by defending the colors of the long-awaited “Crimes of the future”, by David Cronenberg. Among her competitors for the Interpretation Prize, a certain… Marion Cotillard, main actress of “Brother and Sister”, the new Desplechin. Whose honor roll? Verdict of the class council on May 27.
At the picket line !
Cannes has its favourites, but also its Turkish heads. Unloved who, sometimes, have themselves chosen marginality. Thus Claude Chabrol, voluntary absentee from the Festival from the 1980s and severe with an event which, in his eyes, was of little interest. “The prizes should be distributed there by a lottery systemI saidI. This would spare the jury long and painful deliberations. And we could no longer dispute the prize list. » Same distancing or almost with a Woody Allen, certainly present on many occasions in Cannes, but who, indifferent to charms, has always wanted to appear there out of competition. More embarrassing, some great directors have not been recognized by the Cannes institution at their fair value. Thus Clint Eastwood, sometimes selected, but never rewarded and who nevertheless accepted with his natural class to chair the jury in 1994. Or Alain Resnais, only honored in 2009 with an “exceptional prize for his entire career” which had everything to a consolation prize.
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