Special Report: 56th Cannes Film Festival, 2003

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Countries attending the Venice Film Festival in 1935 and 1936 were shocked by the influence of the fascist governments of Italy and Germany on the selection of films and decisions of the jury. In response, France proposed the creation of Cannes, an international cinema event. The 56th festival will be held May 14-25 headed by Jury President Patrice Chéreau. On the eight member jury team are Meg Ryan, Former Miss World Rai Aishwarya French actress Karin Viard, Italian writer Erri de Luca, Danis Tanovic director of Oscar winner No Man's Land Steven Soderbergh, Chinese director Jiang Wen and French actor Jean Rochefort.

The opening film will be Fanfan la Tulipe starring Penelope Cruz, directed by Gérard Krawczyk, and produced by Luc Besson-- a film made in the traditional cinema style with props, costumes, and swash-buckling scenes sure to take the festival mind off Iraq. Closing up will be Charlie Chaplin's classic Modern Times.

In May 1968, Jean Luc Godard, François Truffaut Roman Polanski among other directors marched into the screening of Gone with the Wind at Cannes and demanded it be halted. "Director's Fortnight", now a regular feature of Cannes was offspring to this revolt, a showcase of films not previously released in France or in previous international competition. Other competitive sections this year include' A Certain Regard', a short film competition and Critics Week. During the festival special tributes to Jeanne Moreau and Federico Fellini grace the Cannes fest.

There are always veterans, as well as newcomers at Cannes. Clint Eastwood has packed the most star power in a studio film with his Mystic Fire, part of the feature film competition with 20 contestants all vying for the coveted Golden Palm award. Lars von Trier independent Danish production, Dogville, a revenge drama is part of a new trilogy, set in the Rocky Mountains in the 30's. The actors, several of which will be on hand at Cannes, (Ben Gazarra, Nicole Kidman, and Lauren Bacall), love working with von Trier.

Cannes is not only about studio wattage and megastars like the Oscars. It's principally an international auteur festival of all sizes and shapes, a festival for the film world and market, not the public. A small film can make a big splash, such as the 2000 Grand Prize Winner (Grand Prix du Jury) Samira Makhmalbaf's Blackboards. Five in the Afternoon Makhmalbaf's second film in the feature film competition is about how a young girl encounters her new freedom after the topple of the Taliban regime.

Big studio work is generally showcased out of competition. Count on The Matrix Reloaded by the Wachowski Brothers.

One more reason for being at Cannes this year: a special preview event on the beloved Jean Cocteau and a Leçon du Cinema (Cinema Lesson) by Oliver Stone.

And for cinema lovers who do not prioritize the red carpet events, there is a special 35 mm restoration section including remastered pearls such as The Andalusian Dog (UN CHIEN ANDALOU) by Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali (1929) and three films by Michael Curtiz: MILDRED PIERCE (1945), THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942).

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56th Cannes Film Festival, 2003