‘Miss Sunshine’ star Dano to make directorial debut at Cannes
Cannes invite shows Iran cinema still alive: Panahi
PARIS, France, April 16, (AFP): Hollywood star Paul Dano’s muchanticipated directorial debut, “Wildlife”, will open Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival next month, the organisers said Monday.
The film by the “There Will Be Blood” and “Little Miss Sunshine” actor features his friend Jake Gyllenhaal, who played opposite Dano in the Oscar-nominated “Prisoners” in 2013.
The film is based on a Richard Ford novel about a teenager watching his parents’ marriage fall apart.
Critics’ Week director Charles Tesson said it includes an “extremely impressive” performance from British actress Carey Mulligan, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “An Education”, the coming-of-age drama based on journalist Lynn Barber’s bestselling memoir.
“Paul Dano shows himself to be a true cineaste in his first feature film,” Tesson told AFP, “a profoundly human portrait at the disintegration of an American family... done with elegant classicism.”
The parallel event for first- and second-time directors, which starts on May 9, the day after the main Cannes festival, also features a parody of the life of a superstar footballer not unlike Cristiano Ronaldo called “Diamantino”.
Although its Portugese-American co-director Gabriel Abrantes has said that the film is “not really about” the Real Madrid star, Tesson said the “delightful off-the-wall” comedy would ring bells with football fans.
Unlike the main festival, which has been criticised for its dearth of female talent, Critics’ Week is dominated by films by and about women.
While only three of the 18 films competing for the top Palme d’Or prize are by women, they make up the majority in the Critics’ Week competition.
Indian director Rohena Gera turns the romantic comedy on its head in her first feature, “Sir”, Tesson said, a master-servant love story that shakes class and caste taboos starring rising Bollywood actress Tillotama Shome.
“One Day” by the Hungarian Zsofia Szilagyi follows the manic day of an overstretched working mother trying to hold her own and her family’s life together, while “Woman at War” is the “funny and stirring” story of an Icelandic environmental activist.
Young documentary-maker Anja Kofmel investigates the murder of her cousin, a journalist who was killed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, in her film, “Chris the Swiss”, which is partly animated.
“Sauvage” takes on the rarely touched world of male prostitution while another gritty French film “Sheherazade” dives into the chaotic life of a young prostitute and her boyfriend in the port of Marseille.
French star Romain Duris plays a union stalwart whose wife leaves him with their children in the Belgium drama “Our Battles”, which is being shown out of competition.
The line-up for the main competition at Cannes is markedly more political than usual, with an Iranian and Russian director who are banned from leaving their countries, in the running for the Palme d’Or.
It is highly unlikely that Iran’s Jafar Panahi and Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov will be able to attend, despite pleas by festival organisers and the French authorities.
The world’s biggest film festival runs from May 8 to 19.
Iran’s banned film director Jafar Panahi responded Sunday to his invitation to the Cannes Film Festival, calling it a sign that Iranian independent cinema is still alive despite “many threats”.
“This year for the first time in the history of Iranian cinema, two films by Iranian filmmakers are in the main competition at Cannes. This is a sign that Iranian cinema is alive and dynamic,” he wrote in an open letter carried by reformist news agency ILNA.
“But clearly this does not please those who want to see the death of independent cinema in Iran under any pretext and with many threats.”
Panahi was banned from making films and leaving the country after supporting mass protests in 2009 and making a series of films that critiqued the state of modern Iran.
That has not stopped him from working clandestinely in the country and his 2015 film “Taxi” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival to the consternation of his conservative critics back home.
His new film “Three Faces” is one of 17 films competing for the Palme D’Or at Cannes in May, alongside Iran’s two-time Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi with “Everybody Knows”.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux last week pleaded with Iran to let Panahi come to Cannes, while the Society of Iranian Film Directors wrote to President Hassan Rouhani requesting permission for him to leave.
“It is certain that... the pressure will continue, but independent cinema will try to preserve its independence with new voices,” said Panahi in his letter.