Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cannes Day 10





Virginie Ledoyan, from Assayas Cold Water (1994), on the red carpet at Cannes 18 years later



Nicole Kidman returns the next day for Philip Kaufman’s Hemingway & Gellhorn






Sarah Gadon appears in both David Cronenberg's Cannes film Cosmopolis and his son's film, Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral



Russian director Sergei Loznitsa brings his film In The Fog to Cannes





In an oh, by the way story, the City of Chicago has refused to pay police officers overtime pay for their NATO duty, even if this meant working a 6 or 7 day work week, which is certainly beyond the norm and most certainly constitutes overtime:

The city hasn’t released details of its NATO-related purchasing and personnel costs. The tab for police overtime for the 3,100 officers assigned to NATO duty is expected to be huge.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy canceled days off and ordered all officers to work 12-hour shifts so the department could devote extraordinary police resources to the summit and also provide increased neighborhood police protection.

Despite the ugly image of baton-wielding police officers squaring off against protesters at times trying to provoke them, the police department has won praise for its preparation and performance during the summit. McCarthy’s leadership on the front lines in helping to diffuse that potentially volatile confrontation at Michigan and Cermak has turned him into a local celebrity.

Earlier this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the police “performed incredibly well,” but so did a lot of other city employees “you didn’t see.” The mayor wouldn’t say whether police would be rewarded during contract talks.

City Hall has since begun negotiations on a new contract with Chicago firefighters. By the time police contract talks do begin in earnest, the NATO summit will likely have faded from public memory, the sources said.

For anyone who's interested, how about Barack Obama - - the college years?

















In 1979, he was an 18-year-old freshman who liked Earth, Wind & Fire and wore silly hats. David Maraniss' new biography reveals how Barry from Honolulu became Barack, president of the United States

Cannes photos from The Guardian:

and more:

Cannes photos from The Hollywood Reporter:

Fashion photos from The London Telegraph:

The Best fashion moments at Cannes from Time magazine:

Cannes announced the Director Fortnight Awards from indieWIRE:

While films from the Cannes Directors' Fortnight are not given official festival awards, they are honored by organizations. This year, Pablo Larrain's "No," starring Gael Garcia Bernal, a surprise stand-out at Cannes, Merzak Allouache's "El taaib," Noémie Lvovsky's "Camille Rewinds," Fyzal Boulifa's short "The Curse" and Basil da Cunha's short "The Living Also Cry" have each been singled out. 

Art Cinema Award: The CICAE, Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai, gives the Art Cinema Award, prize that helps with film diffusion. The international Jury is composed of independent cinemas programmers. Jury 2012 : Joanna Lapinska, Albert Wiederspiel and Jimi Andreani

"No,"  Pablo Larraín (Chile, U.S., Mexico)

Europa Cinemas: Label aims to enhance the promotion, circulation and box-office runs of European award-winning films on the screens of a cinema network stretching across Europe. Awarded by a jury comprised of Europa Cinemas member exhibitors. Jury 2012 : Paula Astorga, Francesc Villalonga, Erik Hamre and Sarah Beaufol.

"El taaib (Le Repenti)," Merzak Allouache (Algeria, France)

Prix SACD 2012: La SACD (Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques) honors a French-language feature film in the Directors Fortnight selection.  This film is chosen by a film commission chaired by Bertrand Tavernier, with Gérard Krawczyk, Arthur Joffé, Christine Laurent, Benjamin Legrand et Luc Jabon.

"Camille redouble (Camille Rewinds)," Noémie Lvovsky (France)

Premier Prix Illy for Short Filmmaking: The jury, made up of Julie Bertuccelli, President, Carlo Bach, Maureen Loiret, and Patrick Villacampa gave the prize to:

"The Curse," Fyzal Boulifa (U.K., Morroco)

Special Mention

"Os vivos tambem choram (The Living Also Cry)." Basil da Cunha (Switzerland, Portugal)

Jonathan Romney at Cannes from Sight & Sound:

Possibly the slowest and most contemplative war film ever made, In the Fog is a delicately complex work of shifting perspectives, and like My Joy, a contemplation on narrative and the act of storytelling. The wonderfully bitter payoff of the Sushenya flashback is that he has at last stated the case for his defence – even if it’s not one that can possibly save him – but it’s only at the end that he realises he’s told it to a dead man.

The film’s consideration on justice, moral integrity and martyrdom unfolds in a way that’s all the more telling because it’s so simple – and I’ve just had a conversation with someone who regarded the film as mundane. Yet to me, the theme’s development felt lucid in a particularly deep way – it’s the lucidity and depth of Tolstoy’s short stories.

The film is extraordinarily acted, largely in a sotto voce style that expresses the dogged determination and patience of these characters. Actors and landscapes alike could have come out of nineteenth-century Russian paintings; as Sushenya, Svirksi’s looks and stillness make him the embodiment of an age-old Russian archetype – the wise peasant who embraces his fate against all promptings of worldly logic.

Yes, the film is slow – shot by Oleg Mutu, it’s edited with only 72 cuts – and I suppose you might call it bleak, although it shows an enormous faith in human capacities. But I’m not automatically praising it because of those qualities. It’s just among the handful of truly eloquent and moving films here.

Geoff Andrew recalls Nicholas Ray from Time Out London:

 Having made documentaries for more than a decade, in 2010 the Belarussian director Sergei Loznitsa attracted a lot of critical attention with his impressive first feature, ‘My Joy’, an unremittingly bleak look at contemporary Russia. With the likewise sombre but in other respects rather more conventional ‘In the Fog’, Loznitsa looks set to garner even more praise.

Set in Belarus in 1942, the film begins with a lengthy travelling shot (the first of only 70 or so shots in the movie), which ends with the Nazis hanging Belarussian resistance fighters. It then proceeds to chronicle what happens after two partisans arrive at the house of a comrade widely believed (since he alone was freed by the Nazis after a train was sabotaged) to have betrayed the executed men. He protests his innocence, but they are no more persuaded by his claims than his wife, and they take him through the forest, hoping to avoid discovery by the German forces patrolling the district.

What follows not only shows the respective destinies of the three men but sketches, in flashback, their characters and their different responses to the question of how best to deal with the occupying German forces. Loznitsa adopts a slow, stately pace, allowing a number of cruel ironies to emerge from the stark, simple storyline with steadily accumulating dramatic force. There’s almost no military action on view, and the dialogue is generally hushed, even ruminative, particularly when the man suspected of betrayal muses on the effects of war, both on individuals and their relationships with one another. But the film never feels excessively talky; its meaning may be found not only in the dialogue but also in the eloquent compositions (shot by the great Romanian cinematographer Oleg Mutu), filled with dark trees, snow and mist.

Not unlike Nicholas Ray’s likewise philosophical ‘Bitter Victory’, ‘In the Fog’ is a war movie that foregrounds the emotions of individuals over the spectacle of battle, and uses metaphor and a calm mood of ethical enquiry rather than simplistic polemics arguing for or against military engagement. Loznitsa knows that war exists and won’t go away; rather than indulging in patriotic or pacifistic platitudes, he tries to show what it might do to our souls. And, in this writer’s opinion, he succeeds.

Stephen Dalton from The Hollywood Reporter:

Heavyweight historical suspense drama eventually delivers.

Revenge is a dish served cold, bitter and morally conflicted in this marathon World War II glumfest, which carries a heavy historical weight as Russia’s sole Competition contender in Cannes. Based on a novel by the Belorussian author Vassily Bykov, Sergei Loznitsa’s slow-moving three-hander methodically unpicks the agonising ethical choices facing citizens of Nazi-occupied Belarus in 1942. Fans of old-school Soviet cinema may find these wintry forests and fatalistic characters a touch over-familiar, but the film repays patient viewing as it evolves into an engrossing, nuanced, philosophical drama. Though hardly blockbuster material, In The Fog (V Tumane) should attract a niche global audience with its intellectual gravitas and technical prowess.

Never fully elaborated by the film-makers, the context is Nazi Germany’s wartime occupation of the western Russian territory of Belarus between 1941 and 1944, which led to a bitter guerrilla uprising by pro-Soviet partisans and left over two million people dead. These events remain contentious in Belarus, now a post-Soviet republic frequently described as Europe’s last remaining dictatorship, which may explain why Loznitsa shot this well-crafted pan-European co-production in the neighbouring Baltic state of Latvia instead.

The action begins with a grim public hanging of three alleged saboteurs for an act of resistance, initially unexplained, against the occupying Nazi regime. Strikingly, their executions occur off camera, like every death in the film. Instead, Loznitsa’s roving camera comes to rest on a pile of bones outside a butcher’s shop. Not subtle, but effective.

Russian films about the horrors and heroism of World War II have an illustrious track record, of course, becoming a major feature of the Soviet era for obvious political propaganda purposes. In The Fog is standing on the shoulders of giants like Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes are Flying, Andrei Tarkovksy’s Ivan’s Childhood and - especially - Elem Klimov’s savagely beautiful 1985 epic Come and See, which addressed the Nazi occupation of Belarus directly.

Possibly mindful of this, Loznitsa’s addition to an already overstuffed canon takes the opposite stylistic approach, being essentially an intimate meditation on the tortuous Faustian dilemmas facing ordinary citizens under brutally sadistic regimes. Although Bykov himself lived through the Nazi occupation of Belarus, he never wrote about partisan heroism in glowingly triumphalist terms, preferring to focus on more personal, psychologically driven stories.

Initially a documentary maker, Loznitsa earned the Best Director prize at Cannes two years ago with My Joy, a bleak existential trek across a hellish contemporary Russia. In The Fog is more conventional in structure and content, but shares some of the same elements. Romanian cinematographer Oleg Mutu returns, shooting with a similar mix of tight close-ups, long single takes and slow, Bela Tarr-style, back-of-the-neck tracking shots. His color palette is mostly drained and autumnal, cross-cut with deep shadows and striking chiaroscuro contrast.

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Stephen Dalton namedrops with the best of them, using Kalatozov, Tarkovsky, and Klimov in the same sentence, tho he forgot Klimov's wife, Larissa Shepitko, whose psychological war drama The Ascent (1977) this most likely resembles, as he offers high praise for Sergei Loznitsa's Russian WWII war film In the Fog, a war film with no war action, a long, slow slog into the psychological descent into the madness of war, shot with cinematic depth by the same guy (Oleg Mutu) who did the Romanian Competition film Beyond the Hills, supposedly only 72 shots in a little over two hours, where comrades turn against comrades, suspecting there is among them a collaborator for the other side, where there is slow pacing, no musical score, and an intense, interior moral dilemma about what to do.  While this film may well be good enough for an award on merit, the behind-the-scenes talk is otherwise, where the question is about awarding a "Russian" film about "morality" during the reinstatement of the dictatorial, KGB-like police state reign of Vlaldimir Putin, does this not send the right message to the Russian people and to the rest of the world?   

Yes, that's strictly a political response, but Cannes plays politics with the best of them, where an award isn't just about the film, it's about the significance of the award.  At the Academy Awards, when A Separation won the first Oscar ever for an Iranian film, winning Best Foreign Language film, much was made of the gracious and humble acceptance speeches by director Asghar Farhadi, which also won the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.  When accepting the Oscar, Farhadi said, “At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at a time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

So yes, political implications cloud and often supercede artistic judgment, just as it does every other walk of life, where the Academy Awards were not broadcast live in Iran, so people had to obtain the news through other sources.  In a bit of chest beating afterwards, Iran's state-spun praise hailed the country's first Oscar-winning film as a triumph over arch enemy Israel, as the Iranian film won over an Israeli film Footnote, boasting of a conquest of Iranian culture. 

Even among Americans, film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, March 5, 2012:

The unexpectedly huge acclaim accorded to Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation in the U.S, appears to be motivated by something more than an appreciation for a better-than-average feature. Is this a sufficient reason for it to be the most successful Iranian film to be released in America to date? Why was it named the best foreign language film of 2011 by the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, and the New York Critics Circle, and the best picture of the year by the most popular American film critic (Roger Ebert), meanwhile placing third as the best picture by the National Society of Film Critics (which rarely considers films for this category in any language but English, and included only one other such film in its latest top ten, Ruiz’s Mistérios de Lisboa)? Why was it nominated for two separate Academy Awards?

I suspect that an important reason for this sort of enthusiasm is the desire of many Americans — or at least Americans who see foreign-language films — not to go to war again, shortly after the (very) belated return of American troops from Iraq, and during the incessant and frightening beating of war drums by all of the Republican candidates for President except for Ron Paul (who still isn’t taken seriously by the mainstream media–and not because of his radical economic positions, but, to all appearances, because he refuses to support another American invasion in the Middle East). It’s a good example, in any case, of the way that the cultural impact of some films can’t be gleaned from reading reviews and might even be inexplicable to people years later. Who cares today about Mrs. Miniver, the William Wyler propaganda feature of 1942 that won six Oscars, including best picture, director, screenplay, cinematography, actress, and supporting actress, and was nominated for six others?

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Top 5 Contenders (no real surprises except the Kiarostami keeps cropping up) for the Palme D'Or from indieWIRE:

Abbas Kiarostami's Japan-set enigma about a young prostitute driving around town with an elderly professor left a lot of critics scratching their heads even though many enjoyed the experience. Kiarostami's textured narrative draws you into the proceedings with his typically advanced use of mise-en-scene and patient storytelling approach that constantly seems littered with meaning even as the big picture remains elusive. The jury may also want to single out an Iranian filmmaker for the political ramifications such a decision could have.

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Political implications perhaps best explains why Kiarostami, the most significant Iranian filmmaker in history, remains in the running both here at indieWire and with Neil Young at Jigsaw Lounge, where he's remained at the top of the list since before the fest began with the best odds to win the Palme D'Or, despite the puzzled and less than favorable response from many of the critics. 

What would the award mean to Iranians at a time when Jafar Panahi, a leading Iranian filmmaker for decades, has been imprisoned for questioning the validity of the Ahmadinejad Presidential election results in 2009, charged with commiting propaganda against the Iranian government, sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media as well as leaving the country.     

An award isn't just about the film, it's about the significance of the award.

What message will it send to the rest of the world?

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Xan Brooks from his Cannes Diary from The Guardian:

Three films, I think, loom head and shoulders above the other combatants – and these pictures could scarcely be more different from one another. Michael Haneke's Amour was a stately, tender chamber-piece, superbly played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva; Cosmopolis a lithe, liquid glide over the surface of millennial fears. And then there was Holy Motors, that jaunty, flamboyant circus of a movie, replete with fairytale ghouls, talking cars and a mad interlude of accordion folk. Who knows what will win? It's time to leave, my brain is soup. Here's hoping it's a film with a white limousine.

Xan Brooks asks Peter Bradshaw, Andrew Pulver and Charlotte Higgins which film they think deserves to win the Palme d'Or on Sunday, shown in a Video clip (9:26), not really starting until the 4-minute mark, from The Guardian:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/video/2012/may/25/cannes-2012-palme-dor-video?intcmp=239

Scott Foundas and Gavin Smith review what's played so far at Cannes from an audio segment (16:27) from Film Comment:  http://www.filmlinc.com/blog/cannes-entry/cannes-2012-diary-smith-foundas-on-the-festival-so-far

There is an online Criterion Forum discussion on the films at Cannes:

A big thank you shoutout to George the Cyclists's West coast friend Matt Langdon (http://bunuel.blogspot.com/ and http://rashomon.blogspot.com/) for mentioning the Cannes coverage at this blog on the Mubi Forum:  http://mubi.com/topics/cannes-film-festival-who-to-read

Les étoiles de la critique is a scorecard of French critics, through Thursday's edition, where Audiard's Rust and Bone and Haneke's Amour still remain the best reviewed films so far:  Interestingly, despite the alleged critical acclaim, Holy Motors is rated five 4 stars, three 3 stars, two 2 stars, three 1 stars, and one less than 1 star on the French critic vote.   http://www.lefilmfrancais.com/109988/cannes-les-etoiles-de-la-critique

Over at Screendaily, the highest scores are Mungiu's Beyond the Hills, rated 3.3, and Haneke's Amour, rated the same, with Audiard's Rust and Bone, Dominick's Killing Them Softly, and Vinterberg's The Hunt rated 2.9.  After that, Loach's The Angel's Share is rated 2.8, Walter Salles On the Road is 2.7, while the Resnais You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom are both rated at 2.6, while the Kiarostami scores 2.4.  Holy Motors, interesting enough, only averages a 2.  You can find the Digital Jury Grid Ratings Page here.  Click on the most recent Day (currently Day 9), and forward through the pages by clicking on the bottom right page, to around page 22.  http://www.screendaily.com/home/cannes-2012/cannes-dailies-2012/5041906.article?blocktitle=Most-popular&contentID=-1

While at Jigsaw Lounge, Neil Young is sticking with Kiarostami as the favorite to win the Palme D'Or prize.  One should review the French Cahiers critical reviews of Kiarostami from Les étoiles de la critique, where 2 stars is the highest rated review, 4 rated it 1 star, and 3 less than 1 star.  Mungiu's Beyond the Hills similarly has one 4 star, five 3 stars, five 2 stars, three 1 stars, and one less than 1 star - - in other words all over the place.  This would not seem to indicate Kiarostami has the critical backing to win any top prize.  Young's predictions seem to be erratic and are in a constant state of flux except his insistence of Kiarsotami at the top.  Neil Young with the current odds at Jigsaw Lounge:  http://www.jigsawlounge.co.uk/film/reviews/cannes12odds/

4-1 : LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE  - Kiarostami {prediction : Palme d’Or}
9-2 : AMOUR - Haneke {Grand Prix & 65th Anniversary Award for the actors}
5-1 : HOLY MOTORS – Carax {Best Actor}
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Prize candidates
10-1 : COSMOPOLIS - Cronenberg {Best Director}
10-1 : IN THE FOG - Loznitsa {Jury Prize}
10-1 : BEYOND THE HILLS - Mungiu {Best Actress, ex-aequo}
10-1 : POST TENEBRAS LUX - Reygadas {Technical award}
11-1 : YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET! - Resnais {Best Screenplay}
14-1 : RUST AND BONE - Audiard
14-1 : THE HUNT – Vinterberg
22-1 : PARADISE : LOVE – Seidl
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Outsiders
25-1 : KILLING THEM SOFTLY - Dominik
25-1 : MUD - Nichols
28-1 : REALITY - Garrone
33-1 : MOONRISE KINGDOM – Anderson
33-1 : ON THE ROAD - Salles
50-1 : IN ANOTHER COUNTRY – Hong
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Longshots
100-1 : AFTER THE BATTLE - Nasrallah
100-1 : THE ANGELS’ SHARE - Loach
100-1 : LAWLESS – Hillcoat
100-1 : THE TASTE OF MONEY - Im
150-1 : THE PAPERBOY – Daniels













Nanni Moretti surrounded by the better half of the Cannes Jury.  Look at those buttoned up collars - - is this really the year for Holy Motors?

Predictions:

Palme D'Or
Léos Carax, Holy Motors

Grand Prix
Michael Haneke, Amour

Jury Prize
Jacques Audiard, Rust and Bone

Best Director
Sergei Loznitsa, In the Fog

Best Screenplay
Alain Resnais, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Best Actor
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

Best Actress
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour


Shortening the list to just the basic necessities, Screendaily still has paywalls, but if you click on most reviews, they are open to the public, though some still remain mysteriously unavailable:  http://www.screendaily.com

or even better:

The Hollywood Reporter at Cannes:

David Hudson (formerly of Mubi) does all the links for each review at Fandor:

Variety at Cannes:

Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee at Press Play from indieWIRE

the indieWIRE Playlist:

indieWIRE reviews, with grades listed:

At this late date, I'm adding yet another link to Cannes reviews, this time from Pop Matters:

Robert Koehler from Filmjourney:

Daniel Kasman at Mubi:

The House Next Door at Cannes:

Drew McSweeny and Guy Lodge from HitFix:

Mike D'Angelo at The Onion AV Club:

The Film Center's Barbara Scharres from the Roger Ebert blog:

Richard Corliss from Time Magazine:
http://entertainment.time.com/tag/cannes-2012/

Karina Longworth at LA Weekly:

Cannes Fest at Time Out London:

Cannes Diary from Film Comment:

The Guardian Cannes commentary:

And, of course, George is back at Cannes this year, where he finds off the beaten track film fare: http://georgethecyclist.blogspot.com 

Today's matching set of films were two films in Competition that were a series of episodes rather than straight forward narratives--a sublime Mexican film "Post Tennebras Lux" from Carlos Reygadas and the rather ridiculous French entry "Holy Motors" by Leos Carax.

One of the many characters in the Reygadas film asks "Will Mexico ever win the World Cup."  If he had asked the question, "Will a Mexican film ever win the Palme d'Or?," this film could be the answer.  Reygadas came close with his last film "Silent Light," losing out to "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days."  "Post Tennebras Lux" is the most ambitious and original of the Competition films I have seen and will be hard to top.  From the very opening scene with a little girl running through a field of cows, this is a film of wondrous images and poignant slices of life, each segment dealing with a concern that weighs upon someone or is of importance to them. The segments include an AA meeting in a shack, a sex club in a high-tech setting, trees falling, dogs fighting, prep school boys playing rugby.  Its lack of narrative flow drew boos, Ralph said, at the press screening in the Palais, but there were none from my audience.

An aging actor drives around Paris in a stretch white limo putting on various costumes complete with facial masks and then slipping out into public to put on an outrageous performance in “Holy Motors,” almost a hallucination of a movie.  He dresses in a vinyl suit with luminous white bulbs and performs a crazed dance. He joins up with a troop of accordionists in another segment.  In another he runs through a cemetery like a deranged centaur eating flowers and biting off the hand of a woman interrupting a photo-shoot. The photographer likes his beastly look and she recruits him but then he runs off with the model.  It was bizarre, but senseless.

My day also included a matching set of Un Certain Regard films, both most wrenching, anxiety-ridden portrayals of characters in deep shit, not unlike the kindergarten teacher and student yesterday in the  Danish and Mexican films.  After seeing them back-to-back I was almost ready to call it a day.  "Our Children" opens with a woman in a hospital bed asking if the corpses of her four young children can be sent to Morocco.  The conclusion of this film is no secret, a mother overwhelmed by her life who kills her four young children.  She is transformed from a young woman very much in love happy to be given a wedding proposition to a slave of a wife.  Her husband is Moroccan and she is Belgian.  They live in Belgium.

A car salesman with a conscience is caught up in horrible mess when he flees the scene of a hit-and-run accident that leaves the victim in critical condition in the French film "3 Worlds".  He makes the idiotic decision to visit his victim in the hospital.  He is in a coma.  A woman who witnessed the accident but didn't get his license number is at the hospital at the same time and finds his visit strange so tales him and guesses who he is.  She confronts him in his office at the car dealership that he has just been promoted to run by his soon-to-be father-in-law.  The plot gets more and more complicated with moral dilemmas left and right, but they all are credibly developed.  This was surprisingly plausible and most gripping, and another predicament that is becoming a theme of the festival that one wouldn't wish on anyone except his worst enemy.

Colombian street youths in "La Playa DC"  are also caught up in lives of desperation.  This was a most realistic submersion into their lives focusing on three brothers.  One has just returned to Colombian after spending some time in Canada as an illegal immigrant.  He says whenever he returns to the country he wants to leave once again.  His younger brothers would like to accompany him as he does by stowing away on a freight.  They are trying to save the money by various hustles.  This was another film affirming the great relevance of cinema and its power to insert others into worlds they know nothing about.

The same could be said for "Aqui Y Alla" a Mexican film that won the award for the best film in Critic’s Weekly.  He could be the first of three Mexican films to win their respective categories along with "After Lucia" in Un Certain Regard and the Reygadas film in Competition, and none of them focusing on the drug cartels that seem to dominate the news out of Mexico these days.  This was a very quiet, understated film taking place in a Mexican village with a cast of seeming non-professionals all playing themselves.  A 40-year old father of two teen-aged girls he hardly knows has just returned from a prolonged spell of working in the US.  He became a musician while there and tries to make a career of it back in his village.  It’s not so easy so he picks up whatever other menial work he can find.  In the mean time he and his wife have another child.

Along with all the day’s Great Cinema was a sensational "Master Class" on directing conducted by the highly respected French film critic Michel Ciment interviewing Philip Kaufman, attending the festival with the presentation of his film "Hemingway and Gellhorn."  Unlike yesterday’s Master Class with Norman Lloyd this one played to a full house, with people turned away.  Kidman was among those attending.  When I walked past her sitting in the first row not expecting to see her I was immediately stunned by her remarkable aura, unlike any I've experienced.  I've had close contact with quite a few actress at Telluride--Laura Lynney, Tilda Swinton, Charlotte Rampling, Penelope Cruz, Catherine Deneuve, Meryl Streep-- but none had such star power.  It was a stark contrast to Kaufman, a most regular guy. Ciment actually commented on what a pleasant fellow he was, unlike many directors who have such forceful personalities.

This two-hour session including clips from many of his films--The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Henry and June and his latest.  It began with a clip from his first film, Goldstein, which won an award at Cannes in 1964.  The clip showed an older Jewish man dancing out on a pier in Chicago.  Kaufman grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Chicago wishing to be a history professor.  He found that career too stifling so went to Europe to be a novelist.  There he discovered French New Wave cinema and returned to Chicago to make his own version with 40,000 dollars.  Once again I was thrilled to have sacrificed a movie for this extraordinary and enlightening session.

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