Monday, May 12, 2008

Cannes film festival May 14-25, 2008

"So where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?"
-- Christina Aguilera

This year the Cannes Film Festival is being held from May 14th to the 25th and American actor/director Sean Penn has been named as President of the Jury of the 61st annual festival. Following in the recent tradition of opening the festival with a blockbuster film, rumor has it that the new Indiana Jones movie will be the opener this year. Cannes is one of the biggest film festivals and is of utmost importance in marketing and distribution, especially for foreign films. Of course, it is also an elegant and star-studded affair which many of us secretly wish we could be a part of. It may not have the importance to Americans as the Oscars, but for those of us who love foreign films, it is interesting to take a look at the world of recent films from an international point of view. For an excellent overview of the film festival now and then see the article “Twenty-one years in the Midday Sun : Revisiting Roger Ebert’s Cannes” by Kenneth T. Rivers at

The library owns only a few of the Palm D’Or prize winners but even from this short list the variety and changing interests of the judging is apparent and you can be sure that these films are well worth watching. So grab yourself a bottle of French wine, sit back, put on one of these films, and let's pretend...

2006 Wind that shakes the barley (Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy in a dangerous and violent fight for freedom. As the Irish freedom fighters bold tactics bring the British to a breaking point, both sides finally agree to a treaty to end the bloodshed. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and families who fought side by side, find themselves pitted against one another, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test.)
2005 L’enfant (Fr.) (When a small-time crook and his young girlfriend have a child, he decides to sell the baby for money. When his girlfriend finds out, she goes into shock. While she recovers in the hospital, he tries to get their son back and redeem himself.)
2004 Fahrenheit 9/11 (Through actual footage, interviews, and declassified documents, Michael Moore illustrates the connections President Bush has to the royal house of Saud of Saudia Arabia and the bin Laden's, how the president got elected on fraudulent circumstances and then proceeded to blunder through his duties while ignoring warnings of the looming betrayal by his foreign partners. When the treachery hits with the 9/11 attacks, Moore explains how Bush failed to take immediate action to defend the nation.)
2003 Elephant (A realistic drama that takes the viewer inside an American high school on one single, ordinary day that very rapidly turns tragic. It observes the comings and goings of its characters from a safe distance. The experiences of each student range from friendly and innocent to traumatic and deeply disturbing.)
2001 The Son’s room (It.) (A family struggles to go on after a devastating loss. Giovanni (Moretti) is a psychiatrist with a successful practice. He has a warm relationship with his wife, Paola (Morante), and they have a daughter, Irene (Trinca) and a son, Andrea (Sanfelice). The family's calm is shattered when Andrea is unexpectedly killed in an accident.)
1974 The Conversation (A provoking mystery-suspense drama explores the morality of privacy in the story of Harry Caul, a surveillance expert, who conducts a routine surveillance job only to later find himself suspicious that he has become an unwitting player in murder scheme.)
1949 The Third Man (Murder thriller set in post-World War II Vienna during the four-power occupation of the city. A famous American writer comes to Vienna to visit an old friend and finds that he is too late - his friend has been hit and killed by a car. The writer sets out to discover whether it was an accident or murder because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding his friend's death.)

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