Entertainment behind the scenes
Cannes family or Cannes clique?
The press conferences that follow screenings at Cannes are singular affairs, where journalists often spend as much time expressing their admiration as they do asking questions. They can be revealing nonetheless and rarely more so than when the regular master of ceremonies, a certain Henri Behar, introduces somebody as “very much part of the Cannes family.”
One of the persistent criticisms levelled at the world’s biggest film festival is that it always features the same names. It is an unfair criticism in some ways. There isn’t an infinite number of great film makers and so it isn’t surprising that certain directors and actors keep being invited back. But just running through this year’s main competition lineup, there certainly does seem to be something like a “Cannes family”.
This year’s competition opened with “On Tour”, directed by Mathieu Amalric. The story of a troupe of burlesque dancers on a wandering tour through the French provinces was his first effort as director at Cannes but he’s been here before in 10 films as an actor.
Chinese film maker Wang Xiaoshuai, who presented “Chongqing Blues” was here for the fourth time, having won the Jury Prize in 2005 for “Shanghai Dreams”.
It was Korean director’s Im Sangsoo’s first time in competitition but his entry, “The Housemaid” starred Jeon Do-youn, who won the best actress award in 2007. That film was made by Lee Chang-dong, who was back again this year with “Poetry”, his third film in the festival.
Britain’s Mike Leigh, who brought “Another Year” to Cannes returned for the fourth time. He won the Golden Palm in 1996 for “Secrets and Lies” and was named Best Director in 1993 for “Naked”.
Bertrand Tavernier, who showed the historical drama “La princesse de Montpensier” is also a regular. It was his eighth festival either in front of or behind the camera and he too is a previous award winner, having been named Best Director in 1984 for “Un Dimanche a la Campagne”.
Japan’s Takeshi Kitano was also back for the eighth time as either actor or director, with “Outrage”.
Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami, who showed “Certified Copy” is an even more familiar face. This was his 11th Cannes and he too is a previous Golden Palm winner, having taken the top prize in 1997 with “T’am E Guilass”.
French director Xavier Beauvois, who brought “Of Gods and Men” had only been once before, in 1995 but it was a fruitful visit which earned him the Jury Prize for “N’oublie pas que tu vas mourir”.
It was fourth time around for Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who showed “Biutiful”. He won the Best Director award in 2006 for “Babel”.
Italian Daniele Luchetti was back again for the fourth time with “La nostra vita”, while “Uncle Boonmee, Who Can Recall His Past Lives” was Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s third film in Cannes. The Thai director won an award with both his previous entries.
British veteran Ken Loach, back for the 16th time with “Route Irish” is another Golden Palm winner. He won the top prize in 2006 with “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”.
Hungary’s Kornél Mundruczo, showing “A Tender Son – The Frankenstein Project” has brought three previous films to Cannes. “The Exodus – Burnt by the Sun 2″ was the ninth entry as actor or director for Russia’s Nikita Mikhalkov. His first involvement in a film showing at Cannes came as long ago as 1964.
France’s Rachid Bouchareb was back for the fourth time with “Outside the Law”. Three of his cast, Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze and Roschdy Zem had a share in the collective Best Actor award given for his previous entry “Days of Glory” in 2006.
It was the first time for American Doug Liman, who brought “Fair Game” to the Croisette, although his star Sean Penn is a festival regular who was Jury President in 2008 and would have been able to explain the ropes if he had not been kept away by pressing business. Only Ukraine’s Sergei Loznitsa, who brought “My Joy” and Chad’s Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, who showed “A Screaming Man” were completely new to the scene.