This year’s 59 th Cannes film festival was May 17-28 and the “second most important event in the world after the Olympics” which I heard more than once. It opened with the filmed version of the popular Dan Brown book Da Vinci Code. It, as well as other films such as Over the Hedge and An Inconvenient Truth, ran in the category “out of competition.” These films, not in the running, seem to be block busters with a well-known cast; the artistic value of these films is not as important as the PR value of having Halle Berry or Bruce Willis walk up the red carpet. But nobody is complaining. We need these people, too.
Twenty films competed for the Palme d’Or. Chinese director Wong Kar Wai headed the nine-member jury, which also included Samuel L. Jackson, Patrice Leconte, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tim Roth. The unofficial jury of the daily Screen magazine gave us a hint of who the winners might be. At half-time Volver, Red Road, Iklimler, and Lights in the Dusk were leading the pack. Therefore, it was a great surprise, when director Ken Loach won with The Windthat Shakes the Barley. Perhaps it deserved to win; perhaps the jury decided that Ken Loach at age 70 was due for an award, which had eluded him in Cannes in years past.
Probably the most interesting category is Un Certain Regard which introduced 25 films from new and/or interesting directors working in France, Paraguay, Australia, Hungary, South Korea, Algeria, Italy, Indonesia, China, Norway, Romania, Spain, Poland, USA, Lithuania, etc., - a veritable line-up of potential World Cup winners. For these there was a six-member-jury, which awarded five prizes, topmost to Luxury Car by Wang Chao and Ten Canoes by Rolf de Heer.
And then there were short films, old films, documentaries and market films looking for buyers. One special theater showed films according to country with a Chile Day, a China Day, etc. There was an out-door screen on the beach where anyone could watch a film for free. I achieved my goal of watching at least three films or press conferences per day for a total of 15 events in five days.