A Cannes do spirit

By admin Wednesday, 03 June 2015 5:39 PM

A Cannes do spirit

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The 68th Cannes Film Festival just wrapped up two non-stop weeks of glamour, heists and high heel controversies. Dedicated to women, this edition’s poster featured the timeless star Ingrid Bergman and witnessed the film world’s leading lights team up with top luxury brands to dominate the headlines. Aviamost captures the entire buzz just for you…  

The 68th annual edition of the International Cannes Film Festival has concluded after awarding the winners of this year. The festival’s jury was presided by filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, and included Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, British star Siena Miller, French actress Sophie Marceau, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Malian actress Rokia Traore, as well as Spanish movie star Rossy de Palma.

Women were the toast of the 68th Cannes Film Festival with the festival’s poster featuring the immortal Hollywood star and Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, photographed by David Seymour and paying tribute to her contributions to films. Incidentally, Bergman served as the jury president in the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. As part of the tribute, the Swedish documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words was screened in the Cannes Classic Section.

It also had a film directed by a woman as the festival’s opening film. Standing Tall (French: La Tête haute) directed by Emmanuelle Bercot and co-starring thespian Catherine Deneuve, was the festival's opening film and was the second opening film in the festival's history to have been directed by a woman, after A Man in Love by Diane Kurys which opened the 1987 Cannes Film Festival Ice and the Sky, directed by Luc Jacquet, was the festival's closing film. Both the opening and closing films were selected for the strength and importance of their messages - Standing Tall for the way its themes respond to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and Ice and the Sky for its concern for the future of the planet.

French film director Agnès Varda was presented with the honorary Palme d'Or at the festival's closing ceremony. She is also the first female filmmaker to ever receive the award.

The well known French actor Lambert Wilson once again played host to the Cannes awards, which were held at the grand Lumiere Theatre in the festival’s headquarters. The nattily coated host cooed, “Cinema est une femme,” at the black-tie opening ceremony dedicating the edition to women. Interestingly this year’s opening ceremony was perked up with dance and musical numbers recalling the Oscar ceremony.

It would not be out of context to cite Lambert’s quote from last year’s concluding ceremony, “The world is written in an incomprehensible language, but cinema helps us translate it universally. Without its guiding light, everyone would be stuck in the dark of night.” It may not be strictly be a guiding light so to speak, as the majority of us watch movies more as a form of entertainment. But at times they do touch a deep chord somewhere that makes us think about and ponder about issues we may not otherwise have given much thought to.     

The Caméra d’Or, for best first feature, went to “La Tierra y la Sombra,” from the Colombian director César Augusto Acevedo; the film was shown in a parallel section and was inexplicably preceded by a performance of “I Ain’t Got Nobody” sung by a tuneless John C. Reilly. Mr. Wilson followed this by singing “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Reilly.

And the winners are…

It was just one of those things. You’re backing what you assume is the winning horse but its ‘pipped-to-the-post’ by an unlikely hero who has never figured in your list. And so it was this year at what is arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival – Cannes when French director Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan came, was seen and before anyone realized it, quietly walked away with the Palme d’Or. It beat two of the festival favourites Carol starring the great Cate Blanchett, Laszlo Nemes's Holocaust drama Son of Saul and The Lobster starring Colin Farrel. If reports are to be believed, celebrations are on in Sri Lanka where you’re welcome to join in.

But what else can you expect from a jury headed by none other than the legendary Coen Brothers themselves – Joel and Ethan Coen whose hit list of films includes Fargo, No Country for Old Men and Burn After Reading (among numerous others)? It was also the first time that two people chaired the jury.

Dheepan faced stiff competition from several other films too such as Justin Kurzel's gritty Shakespeare adaptation Macbeth, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, Michael Franco's right-to-die drama Chronic and Hou Hsiao-hsien's martial arts epic The Assassin.

As it is the bookies favourite The Lobster, cornered the Jury Prize, while the Grand Prix went to Son of Saul. Meanwhile Rooney Mara who starred alongside Blanchett in lesbian themed Carol shared the Best Actress prize with Emmanuelle Bercot who acted in Mon Roi

A Gist of the Best

Standing Tall is a social realist drama about France’s social workers and has a riveting performance by teen actor Rod Paradot who plays a wayward youth whose police records read longer than the complete works of Marcel Proust. It takes a gritty and compassionate look at France’s justice system and is weighed in reality. It may not be feminine, but it’s something better: it’s human.

Dheepan is based on the lives of three refugees from the civil war in that island nation as they try to build a new life in a violent French ghetto and instead end up in a pastoral British backyard. A critic’s favourite shown at 8.30 in the morning, it nonetheless clinched it in the Palme d’Or’s milestone 60th year. What a great way to be remembered!

A critic’s as well as a popular favourite, the Lesbian romance Carol is based on Patricia Highsmith’s book ‘The Price of Salt’ and centres around two women Carol played by Blanchett and Therese played by Rooney Mara who find each other despite one being married and the other having a boyfriend. Set in the early 50’s (with its very own torturous attitude), their love is both dangerous and thrilling, conveyed by a subtle look or by a light graze of the hand. The film received a standing ovation for a full five minutes when the lights went up after the premiere. As to why Cate Blanchett (rather than Bercot) did not share the Best Actress award with Rooney Mara is a question one can answer only after watching the film.

A difficult but must-watch film, the runner-up or Grand Prize winner Son of Saul is a first feature film from Laszlo Nemes set almost entirely in the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau. It relates the heart wrenching tale of a Jewish German Nazi death camp prisoner from the Sonderkommando unit who suddenly comes across his little son’s body in the pile of corpses he has to dispose, and seeks to give it a proper burial by locating a rabbi to recite a funeral prayer.

‘Sonderkommando’ refers to a work unit at the Nazi camp assigned to get rid of the corpses in the Nazi camp, but only after mercilessly sourcing them for valuables like jewellery, watches and gold teeth. Son of Saul may be a difficult film to watch, but it’s a must-see one from the Cannes list. You may ask why. It is when we as a race know the depths we are capable of going down to, that we can truly rise. And recalling bleakest moments in mankind’s history is one way to do it.

Best Director was won by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien for what is described as ‘the thrillingly beautiful martial arts film’ The Assassin featuring his favourite actress Shu Qi. It relates the centres around Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) who as a child is delivered to the care of a powerful, nun-princess Jiaxin who instructs her in the deadliest of martial arts and now orders her to return and kill a man she was once married to who runs a district. The movie is the 69-year old director’s 10th to play at the Cannes Film Festival. His first was The Flight of the Red Balloon which premiered in 2007. Another director in competition this year was Jia Zhang-ke from Mainland China with Mountains May Depart.

Less favoured, Mon Roi is a melodrama from French director Maiwenn about a woman recovering from a skiing accident and a terrible marriage. It stars Emmanuell Bercot who shared the Best Actress alongside Rooney Mara.

French character actor Vincent Lindon was bestowed the Best Actor for his understated but powerful performance as a middle-age factory worker who is laid off and is forced to take up a job as a security guard who struggles to keep his pride and provide for his family in French film The Measure of a Man by director Stephane Brize. A tough drama about unemployment, the film is sure to get Lindon, international attention. His fans especially being pleased, that despite being nominated five times for the highest French acting honour a Cesar - the equivalent of an Oscar – he has never been conferred the award.

Meanwhile The Lobster is an absurdist comedy from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos portraying a world where people who remain unmated are turned into animals.

Winner of the Best Screenplay, Chronic by the young Jewish Mexican director Michael Franco features that stalwart of acting Tim Roth as a male nurse who bizarrely goes beyond the call of duty to care for his dying patients. Told from the caretaker’s perspective, Roth’s deadpan expression and deeply depressed state point to a greater mystery, which is what the story is all about. It was Franco’s second win at the festival and he said it was a character study of his grandmother’s nurse Beatrice who cared for her when she was bedridden.    

La Tierra y la Sombre (Land and Shadow) by Colombian director Cesar Acevedo was the winner of the Camera d'Or (Best First Feature), and relates the story of a countryman’s journey back home to the Cauca Valley to care for his dying son while his wife and daughter work in the nearby sugarcane fields. Due to fires burning every night to clear the land, his son has developed a deadly lung disease and the pathos is well depicted in a film where the cinematography dominates the narrative. Shown during the Critic’s Week, it was highly praised.

The 15-minute animated movie, Waves ’98, by the Lebanese director Ely Dagher took home the Palme d’Or for the best short film on Sunday, beating out more than 4,500 other nominations. The win comes almost 14 years after Lebanese director Maroun Bagdadi won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1991 for his film Out of Life. A beautiful and artistic exploration of Dagher’s current relationship with his home country, it is told from the viewpoint of a teenager disillusioned with his life in the segregated suburbs of Beirut until an unusual discovery takes him into the depths of the city.

Heists and heeled distractions

Jewellery heists have become the norm rather than the exception in Cannes every year as it’s the period when top jewellers ship their most prized pieces to adorn leading celebrities at the festival. So this year was no different. Robbers pulled off a Euros 17.5 million jewellery heist from legendary jeweler Cartier’s boutique, located next to the Carlton hotel, just days before the Riviera town opened for the annual film event.

The Film Festival authorities itself got into a bit of a pickle so to speak making the whole world go up in arms about it. And it was not without reason.  

When leading celebrities are turned away by security guards for not wearing heels on the red carpet, it’s a call for alarm. And one of those who made her feelings on the issue loud and clear was the charming Emily Blunt who stated that everybody should wear flats. The festival’s President Thierry Fremaux was asked about the rule but he claimed rumours about the high heel rule were totally unfounded.  

There was no obviously no rule however against the flimsiest of dresses, peek-a-boo, lacey teasers or near total, nude displays we witnessed this year (which seemed to have gone a little over the top and were actually off-putting) making modest dressers stand out in sharp contrast.

Oh when, just when will we collectively reach a balanced outlook on women’s dressing? (Sigh)

Chopard and the Cannes Palme d’Or

Chopard unveiled four incredible high jewellery pieces in its newest Green Carpet capsule collection at Cannes Film Festival. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Palme d’Or award. Inspired by the iconic Palme d'Or and to celebrate its milestone year, Chopard’s new collection features a design complementing the brand’s journey to sustainable luxury. Chopard, which has been crafting the Palme d’Or since 1998 as part of its long standing partnership with the world’s leading film festival.

The brand launched last year the first Palme d’Or in Fairmined gold - to mark its commitment to its multi-year program: the Journey to Sustainable Luxury. The Green Carpet capsule collection - a part of this year’s Red Carpet Collection - comprises a jewellery watch, a large pendant, a ring and earrings delicately crafted from 18k white Fairmined gold and set with marquise-cut diamonds sourced from a RJC certified company. The design recalls the leaves of the gracious palm a symbol dear to Chopard and Caroline Scheufele, its co-president and artistic director.

“Actresses are more and more aware and interested in sustainable issues,” Ms. Scheufele said. For example, “Marion Cotillard has always been sensitive to the issue of sustainability, and this year she has worked alongside me to design pieces for our Green Carpet Collection inspired by the Palme d’Or, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary.”

De Grisogono’s Divine in Cannes party

Sumptuous outfits, breakout beauties, renowned A-Listers gather and glitter in de

Grisogono attires. On the glamorous shore of the French Riviera, at the prestigious

Grand Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, a legendary evening is about to be told. Same place, same

spirit, same atmosphere, the de Grisogono dinner party always stands as a unique, offbeat

and special moment. Enlisting dozens of the world’s top super stars to take the photocall, tonight de Grisogono exclusive dinner stands again as one of the most desirable parties of the Festival. Welcomed by Founder and Creative Director, Fawaz Gruosi, stars walked the red carpet alongside their host on their way to a dazzlingly divine evening.

The Red Carpet roll-out

Cannes festival’s much awaited red carpet offered us many beautiful moments and we recall them for our readers…

At the opening ceremony red carpet, the acclaimed actress Catherine Deneuve looked regal in a black and pink creation by Jean Paul Gaultier while the talented actress and Bulgari ambassador Naomi Watts wore a feathery grey, Elie Saab concoction matched by Bulgari jewels. Chinese actress Fan Bingbing looked exotic in a Ralph & Russo Couture sleeveless gown in light pink with green embroidery, teamed with Chopard jewellery.

At the Ice and Sky premiere, British actress and jury member Sienna Miller looked charming in a grey Gucci dress pegged by an interesting floral motif on the midriff and matched by Atelier Swarovski jewels.    

Well known French actress and Dior ambassador, Marion Cotillard was the cynosure of all eyes dressed in a jeweled Dior Couture dress teamed with Chopard jewels at the premiere of Macbeth where she plays the female lead role. Cotillard was the picture of poise in a colourful striped jumpsuit by Ulyana Sergeenko.

At the Youth premiere, Rachel Weisz voted for green in a Prada gown with Chaumet jewels while at the same event, ex Bond woman and jury member Sophie Marceau arrived in a sparkly Louis Vuitton number with a top hair-do and Izabel Goulart wore a striped and stunning, white and nude creation by Zuhair Murad. And ex-Miss World and L’Oreal ambassador and Indian actress Aishwarya Rai was eye-catching in a Ralph & Russo Couture autumn/winter 2014 collection gown matched by Chopard jewels.

While the lovely Emily Blunt sparkled at the Sicario premiere in a white and silver Stella McCartney gown, Cate Blanchett sashayed her way in a black Giorgio Armani Prive spring/summer 2015 gown and statuesque Irina Shayk arrived in a golden Versace gown and Giuseppe Zanotti heels.

Popular model and TAG Heuer ambassador Cara Delevingne wore a busty white gown by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane matched to the hilt by a de Grisogono emerald and diamond necklace and rings.

At the Calvin Klein Women in Film party Rachel Weisz turned out in a halter neck, salmon-pink column gown from the Calvin Klein Collection while the delicate featured Natalia Vodiaonva looked elegant in a striped black dress from the same collection.

Legendary brand Chopard hosted the Gold Party for the bold and beautiful at Cannes. And spotted there was its charming brand ambassador Fan Bing Bing in a white, Ralph and Russo Couture spring/summer 2015 dress with cut-out floral motifs matched by Chopard jewels.

Poppy Delevingne wore a Chanel Haute Couture dress with a plunging neckline from the spring/summer 2013 collection and blossoming floral motifs from the waist downwards matched by Chopard’s sapphire and diamonds necklace.

The much-loved and adored Kill Bill star Uma Thurman struck a sophisticated stance in a light, bluish-silver dress teamed with Chopard’s lavishly diamond-studded earrings and cuff bracelet.

Rooney Mara looked cute in an off-white Olivier Theyskens for Rochas autumn/winter 2005 halter neck gown (did she even guess at that point of time that she would scoop the Best Actress award this year, albeit alongside another star? Doubt it.) 

Chinese actress Li Bing Bing wowed us all looking divine in a white Elie Saab Couture autumn/winter 2014 gown at the Carol premiere. Also spotted was jury member Sienna Miller who wore a solemn black dress from the Sonia Rykiel pre-autumn/winter 2015 collection and perked it up with a strikingly attractive Bulgari necklace and clutch.

Eva Longoria swept everyone else aside in a midnight blue Atelier Versace strapless gown with Lorraine Schwartz earrings.

Salma Hayek caught our eye in a magenta Gucci gown that accented all her curves at the Rocco and His Brothers premiere.

At the photocall of Carol, Rooney Mara looked smart in a white, high neck, full sleeved Alexander McQueen pre-autumn/winter 2015 dress matched by Stuart Weitzman sandals while her co-star Cate Blanchett wore a sheer black Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2015 look.

Petite Natalie Portman was pretty in a black and white Dior Couture spring/summer 2015 gown – and Ram Bergman at the premiere of A Tale of Love and Darkness. It was directed by the talented actress herself and also stars Portman in it and is a drama based on the memoir of Amos Oz, a writer, journalist and advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At one of the most booed and jeered films at the event, The Sea of Trees premiere, Naomi Watts simply glowed in one of the most interesting dresses this season – a soft green, delicate, tiered Armani Prive gown with bamboo motifs. One of the gentlemen she had linked her arms to on one side was the tall and bearded, Mathew McConaughey while the other was Chris Sparling.

Turning out in a gold (toooo golden) custom made gown by Michael Kors was Natasha Poly who matched it with Boucheron’s awesome Serpent Opalescent necklace and Giseuppe Zanotti heels.

The one and only stalwart Jane Fonda chose a cobalt blue gown from Atelier Versace spring/summer 2015 collection.     

Diane Kruger thankfully has a figure to show off and she did it with aplomb wearing a sheer, halter neck gown by Prada matched by Harry Winston jewels. The German actress had a wardrobe malfunction during a photocall for Maryland dressed in a powder blue Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015 dress with a large red rose on it.

If there’s one actress with a figure to envy, it’s Emaa Stone, looking stunning in a white Christian Dior Couture gown with a slight trail at the premiere of Irrational Man by Woody Allen where she plays the lead role alongside Joaquin Phoenix. It centres on a philosophy professor in an existential crisis who finds a new purpose in life when he starts a relationship with one of his students. Stone wore a very pretty, lacy black dress by Oscar de la Renta matched with jewellery by Repossi.

Milk-and-roses-complexioned Lea Seydoux looked radiant in a powder-blue Miu Miu gown teamed with Chopard’s High Jewellery earrings.

Daniel Craig’s wife, the lovely Rachel Weisz looked tomboyish in a Narciso Rodriguez jumpsuit at the photocall of The Lobster. Also in black, smart autumn/winter 2015 dress by Prada was Lea Seydoux.

Star of the last year’s award-winning film, 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o was utterly girliush in an Oscar de la Renta white chiffon dress at the Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc. The talented star, wore a ‘grasshopper’ green (as she herself said) Gucci gown on the red carpet of the La Tete Haute premiere with lilac-hued flowers embroidered around the neck, was seen twirling away in sheer joy. God bless her! She teamed the look with Chopard’s matchless High Jewellery earrings and rings.

If anyone could have pulled it off it in bright canary yellow on a red carpet it was Dior ambassador Charlize Theron. The South African actress wore a strikingly attractive gown by Dior Couture which did her tall, lissome frame justice at the premiere of Mad Max: Fury Road. She arrived with beloved beau Sean Penn looking handsome in an all-black ensemble. She stars alongside Tom Hardy in the high octane Australian post-apocalyptic action film. It is directed, produced and co-written by George Miller and is the fourth film of Mad Max franchise and the first film of the franchise in 30 years. Hardy replaces Mel Gibson in the title role. It is set in a future desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities and had its world premiere early May2015 at the TCL Chinese Theatre.    

Also at the same event was Naomi Watts looking great in a strapless black Ralph Lauren gown from the autumn/winter 2015 collection matched perfectly by Bulgari jewels.  

Salma Hayek chose an Alexander McQueen, strapless, black and gold, Spanish number with ruffles galore for the premiere of the Tale of Tales. The Italian fantasy horror film stars Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones and John C Reilly and is an Italian-led production with co-producers in France and the United Kingdom. It is a screen adaptation based on collections of tales by Neapolitan poet and courtier, Giambattista Basile: Pentamerone or Lo cunto de li cunti (Tale of Tales or Entertainment for Little ones) which contains the earliest versions of world famous fables like Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

Also at the Mad Max: Fury Road premiere was Still Alice star Julianne Moore wearing a cherry red Givenchy Couture, one-shoulder gown and Chopard jewels. The lovely actress was especially feted by the Cannes organizers as she was not in Cannes last may to personally collect her statuette. They formally presented blushing Julianne Moore with the honour and asked her to officially open the festival. In the last 12 months alone, Moore has scooped up a Golden Globe, BAFTA, an Oscar, and the Cannes Film Festival award for best actress.

Cannes charitable note

One of the highlights of the leading film festival is the star-packed amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala established to raise funds for the fight against the dreaded disease which has taken millions of lives. Celebrity invitees included Leonardo DiCaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and numerous others.

For the first time this year, amfAR is partnering with L’Oréal Paris for the official L’Oréal amfAR After Party. Famed DJs Samantha Ronson, Sebastian Perrin, and special guests will provide the music late into the night at the Eden-Roc, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The L’Oréal amfAR After Party will be hosted by Gwen Stefani, Freida Pinto, Patrick Dempsey, Milla Jovovich, and Michelle Yeoh.

The celebrity auction in Cap d’Antibes at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Edn Roc raised in excess of $30 million (Dh110 million) for the fight against AIDS, a cause dear to the heart of Elizabeth Taylor, one of the organization’s founders, who fought for it until her death in 2011. This year, an Andy Warhol portrait of her was auctioned off – and quickly snapped up by Eva Longoria for Euros 540,000 (Dh2.1 million).

In past years, the Cinema Against AIDS auction has seen legendary impromptu performances by such artists as Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Robin Williams, Natalie Cole, Liza Minnelli, Sheryl Crow, Wyclef Jean, Ringo Starr, Macy Gray, and Lionel Ritchie.

amfAR's annual Cinema Against AIDS galas have been important and successful fundraising events for the Foundation since 1993, generating nearly $60 million for essential AIDS research. Past events have been chaired by Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Stone, President Bill Clinton, Demi Moore, Sir Elton John, and Madonna.

Like the epidemic itself, AIDS research knows no borders. amfAR’s programs have had a global reach since 1986, when the Foundation began awarding international grants. Today, amfAR continues to fund HIV/AIDS researchers worldwide and works to translate that research into effective treatment, prevention, and education programs around the globe.

Now tell us, just who Cannes top that?

Any act from your heart, makes all that glamour and extravaganza (not to forget excess) truly worth it. So let the love overflow, embracing and healing all in its path.   

Meanwhile, that’s it for now folks, until the next awards roundabout. Just make sure to catch up on some truly great films and sit back to watch as reel world and the real world vie closely with one another…