Friday, May 23, 2008

Letter from Cannes

Just dropping in quickly to say hi from Cannes. It was lovely to see the messages on the Mother Ship - thank you very much for that - particularly Steenbeck. I'll try to give a few very brief impressions of the Festival this year. I have to say that the GU's coverage of the Festival has been pretty spot on - they tell it like it is. First of all, the weather has been pretty miserable with some brief respite yesterday. This actually resulted in people at one point dodging round pools of water to get up the red carpet. It looks breezy and a bit sunny today so I might get out for a brisk sea-air walk on the Croisette. As for the films - and that is after all why were are here - the high standard continues. Everything I have seen has had its rightful place in the prestigious line-up, whether for reasons of superlative story-telling, bold cinematographic language or wonderful script and directing. Each film has had something to offer and you could see why it caught the eye of the selectors. My favourite so far has been Argentinian film Leonera by Pablo Trapero which tells the story of a young women imprisoned for murder and pregnant to boot. She raises her baby in prison and the film uses brilliant visual contrasts between the candy pink fluffy world of babies and the barbed wire around the walls. The highlight for me was getting in to see Madonna's Malawi documentary in the presence of Her Madgeness and Guy Ritchie with Sharon Stone there for moral support. Read the GU's article in today's edition. The film is absolutely heartbreaking and left no one indifferent. She was unbelievably touching. This film really really mattered to her and you could see how seriously she took the whole thing when she presented it with her director. She's one of my heros and it was incredible to be a metre away from her. She's actually very very tiny and slim but in no way fragile. I would have broken my ankle after two minutes in the beautiful high heels she was wearing but she negociated the steps with the grace of a dancer. Other highlights include seeing one of the stars of the Hungarian film - Delta - Felix Lajko - playing the violin at the Hungarian party. I have never seen as much passion, energy and horse hair flying! Have to be off so I'll leave you with my FP tip for the Palm - Waltz for Bashir which I didn't see but which seems to have created great excitement. Bisous from the Riviera. FP.

7 comments:

Proudfoot said...

Thanks fp. My brother-in-law is in Cannes but he doesn't write me nice letters about it. Would love to see the Madge/Malawi film. I was there from early childhood to 1988 and I, for one, have never had a problem with her putting the place on the map. The only people who do are the politicians who are embarrased by the fact the Malawi's grinding poverty is made more visible to the media and they're not doing anything about it.

Mnemonic said...

I saw Felix Lajko play last year and it was one of the most astonishing performances of my life. Does he play violin or zither in the film? If so, it's going straight to the top of my "must see" list

lukethedrifter said...

proudfoot - where were you living in Malawi? I've lived here for the last two and a half years. I'm also keen to see the film, though I've yet to see anyone capture the problems of underdevelopment in visual form, except as a polemic.

Proudfoot said...

Lukethedrifter.I was in Blantyre most of the time (although I taught near Rumphi for a bit). The shanty town (Ndirande) was pretty bad then but I hear it's much worse now. I think you're right about catching the problem visually, especially in the rural areas- the struggle to get water, fuel for cooking (and resultant deforestation)and the nailbiting wait for the rains every year. Difficult to get that on camera without a lot of voice over! I don't want to sound like an expat colonial but it depresses me when I see pictures taken when I was first there. Most families had a bicycle for transport, most kids could attend school (yep, there actually were enough) and that you had a lake full of fish and a land full of trees. I ended up working in the Polytechnic of Malawi in the 80s. We trained over a hundred fully qualified engineers (mechanical, civil, electrical) a year and they'd be lucky to get a job as a bus mechanic's assistant. Malawians are the best bunch of people I've ever met. They deserve better.

ejaydee said...

Who's getting a standard ovation in the picture?

FP said...

Well... that's supposed to be Madge - she was a metre away from me. Annie Leibowitz has nothing to fear from me.... I've got tickets to see the Wim Wenders film tonight so am excited about that. Weather cold and crap so I shall have to go shopping this afternoon. Again.
@ Mnemonic - not sure what he plays in the film but I think he's done the violin soundtrack which sounds beautiful.

steenbeck said...

I'm so jealous, FP, I have trouble even keeping up with films that came out last year on dvd, and you're in CANNES watching all the newest latest...Sigh.