Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘Cannes Film Festival 2011’

Von Trier Cries Mea Culpa (Again)

In Film News on May 24, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Cannes’ first-ever official “persona non grata,” Lars Von Trier, reacted today to news that none other than the Iranian Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs, Javad Shamaqdar, had come–unbidden, one assumes–to his defense.

Shamaqdar reportedly stated that Cannes’ actions represented “traces of fascist behavior,” apparently not appreciating the irony of the situation: Cannes played host this year to not one but two films by Iranian directors who have both been persecuted by their government simply for making films.

The most well-known director, Jafar Panahi, who has won awards at both Berlin and Cannes in the past, is serving a six-year term under house arrest for trying to make a film about the contested 2009 Iranian presidential election.  He is also banned from making films for 20 years.  His entry, “This Is Not A Film,” was reportedly sent to Cannes via a thumbdrive hidden inside a cake that had to be smuggled out of the country.

What Shamaqdar (and, by extension, the Iranian Culture Ministry) doesn’t acknowledge in comparing Von Trier’s treatment to “the churches’ medieval treatment of Galileo” is the fact that what Galileo stated (that the earth goes around the sun, rather than vice versa) was an assertion of scientific judgment.  What Von Trier spouted last Wednesday was a rambling stream of consciousness monologue that included statements about his being a Nazi, being glad he wasn’t a Jew because he doesn’t like Suzanne Bier–despite his company, Zentropa, having produced her Oscar-winning film–and how he “sympathizes” with Hitler.  Cannes didn’t infringe on Von Trier’s right to free speech by kicking him out of the festival, as Shamaqdar claims; he is free to say whatever self-sabotaging nonsense he wants, just not on the Festival’s property.  Von Trier also apologized for his comments several times of his own accord, not because he was “forced” to do so by the Cannes organizers, as Shamaqdar claims.

Kirsten Dunst, star of "Melancholia," tries to get Von Trier to shut up

Perhaps needless to say, Von Trier quickly distanced himself from the Ministry’s comments, stating that his press conference drivel had been “unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful.”  He went on to say that what he really meant was that historical atrocities have to be portrayed in terms that people can relate to, rather than casting them as episodes of such extreme evil that they cease to seem real and relevant to the present day.  The chastened director went on to state that such multifaceted portrayals are “necessary in order to avoid any future crimes against humanity.”

If Von Trier really wanted to apologize for his idiocy, perhaps his next film could be devoted to the plight of those who, like Panahi, are persecuted, imprisoned and murdered by regimes like that of Iran, simply for exercising their right to free speech.


Malick triumphs at Cannes *updated*

In Film News on May 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Terrence Malick’s enigmatic new film “The Tree of Life” has won the Palme D’Or at Cannes.

Starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, the ascetic director’s 5th film in about 30 years has drawn a variety of reactions from festival goers–the only thing everyone seems able to agree on is that it draws distinct parallels with Kubrick’s “2001.”

Malick is known for being incredibly shy, and did not show up for the presentation of the award.  Instead, his producers accepted it for him.  The film will open in limited release in the US this Friday, the 27th.

Jury president Robert De Niro said of Malick’s long-awaited film, “Most of us felt very clearly that it was the movie — the size, the importance, the tension, whatever you want to call it — that seemed to fit the Palme d’Or,” though he also emphasized that the jury was equally impressed with many other films screened at the festival this year.

After Lars Von Trier effectively took his own film, “Melancholia,” out of the running after a Nazi-invoking press conference, Malick’s existential epic was something of a shoo-in for the grand prize.

However, “Melancholia’s” star, Kirsten Dunst, was honored with the Best Actress accolade, and in her acceptance speech she specifically thanked Von Trier himself for helping her to be “…so brave and…so free” in her performance.  Audiences can judge for themselves when the film is released in the US on November 4th.

Best Director went to another Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, for his latest film “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.  The film is an action thriller set in Los Angeles, and quite a departure from Refn’s last film, “Valhalla Rising” (reviewed here!) which was an almost non-verbal Viking epic set almost a thousand years ago.  Refn reportedly described Gosling as “my favorite alter ego.”  “Drive” will be released in the US on September 16th.

Other winners included the Dardenne brothers, who have won an award with every film they’ve ever taken to Cannes, and American Jeff Nichols, whose new film “Take Shelter” won in two different categories (it will be released in the US on October 7th).

For a full list of winners and more inside dirt, see Sunday’s Variety roundup of all the festival awards.  Apparently, Robert De Niro spoke French and accidentally referred to other members of the jury as “champignons” (French for “mushrooms”) instead of “champions.”  Who else wishes they could have attended?!