Entertainment behind the scenes
Phew, it’s over, sigh Cannes hacks
Safely back in the UK it’s time to bid farewell to another Cannes film festival. It’s the kind of event that you get excited about before, are fed up with while it is happening, never want to experience again by the end, and then long for a few months down the line. Does that make it like many marriages?
Unlike some of the miserable, grim and ultra-serious movies that Cannes likes to showcase, this year’s festival had a more Hollywood-style ending. After a competition of 22 films that started well, then deteriorated markedly, the 12-day festival was saved at the death by “Entre les Murs”, a stirring drama set in the classrooms of a tough Parisian high school.
It was the last competition film to screen to reporters, many of them long-faced, exhausted and slightly depressed about the string of duds they had sat through. Then, all of a sudden, as if from nowhere, they had something to get excited about. Called The Class in English, the film was remarkable for the realism that the teacher and untrained teenage actors brought to the screen as well as for its exploration of hot political issues like immigration, ethnic integration and violence.
It also underlined the power of language, pitting the street talk of the children against the classical French taught by the school and asking whether one is more valid than the other. When the teacher oversteps the mark in a heated argument and calls two of the girls a French word translated as “skanks”, it is a shocking moment of high tension.
The fact that the film went on to win the top Palme d’Or prize, a prestigious award in world cinema, made us all feel much better about life. Sean Penn and his jury made a popular choice. The only thing that baffled many critics, was why “Waltz With Bashir” won nothing. The Israeli animated documentary was hailed as a ground-breaking way of looking at one of the darkest passages of recent history in the Middle East.