Special Report: The 56th Cannes Film Festival

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
The 56th Cannes Film Festival ended as it began with Mistress of Ceremonies, actress Monica Bellucci, welcoming the audience to the awards.

President of the jury Patrice Chéreau led off the star studded black tie extravaganza by declaring, "We asked for a special exception, a break in the rule which festival organizer Gilles Jacob granted", an announcement that became obvious later when Gus van Sant won the Golden Palm and best director award.

His film Elephant explores the enigma of high school violence and tracks the lives of ten teenagers from Portland Oregon during one day that ends in a bloody shooting spree, Van Sant's impressionistic rendering of the Columbine murders. Played by young amateur students the film investigates the breeding ground of senseless violence. As proud recipient of the Golden Palm, Gus Van Sant accepted for Elephant, and said 'Viva la France'. He denied that Elephant was an anti-American movie:

"I live in the USA and I am not criticizing anything specifically except some systems - such as the urge to conform to the bland way of life, of forgetting diversity. It is not an attack of the US, but a musing on High school violence in the US."

During the 12 days of the Cannes festival, some critics complained that there were not enough good films at the festival, longing for established directors such as Bergman and Tarantino who were supposed to screen their new films. However, the jury prizes prove there were extremely powerful pieces. The first film to come to Cannes from Afghanistan, Osama, by Sedigh Barmak was screened winning several special awards.
Two films from Iran and Turkey were victorious for their imagery and stories. The special jury prize went to Samira Makhmalbaf, the 23 year old Iranian I spoke about on last week's MMI show, for her film At Five in the Afternoon:

"I would like to dedicate this award to women in this world", she said "who have a big desire for responsibility, and don't have the opportunity. The film is about a woman who wants to be president. Because I am living in a world of President George W Bush, I prefer to be a filmmaker".

The coveted 'Grand Prix' award went to Uzak by Nuri Bilge Ceylan from Turkey , an existential story on the lonely lives of two men.
Lars von Trier innovative new film Dogville starring Nicole Kidman went away without distinction. The Brown Bunny, an experimental road movie by Vincent Gallo would have been pelted by tomatoes by who admitted that he wouldn't want to see it either.

The official selection also featured visionary creators like Peter Greenaway who presented the Tulse Luper Suitcases, a film with three sections, which is also a DVD interactive multimedia project.

The Cannes festival celebrates great cinema and is a showcase of artistic and distinguished work, each year with its own alchemy. One of the prime threads was Greenaway's prophetic work about traditional filmmaking--in time we will not be coming to festivals to see cinema he says, and will be plugged into new ways of spectatorship without the movie theater.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan

More Information:
The 56th Cannes Film Festival