Film critics ponder next Palme d’Or as Cannes film marathon wraps up


The Cannes Film Festival screened the last of its competition entries on Friday, closing its first large-scale edition since the pandemic. On the eve of the Palme d’Or announcement, FRANCE 24 spoke to critics from Japan, Italy and Bangladesh about the coverage of the world’s biggest film festival and their favorite films from the this year’s Diamond Jubilee edition.

Out on the media terrace in Cannes Palace of Festivalsfilm critic Ado Spiniello sips a glass of rosé while enjoying the daylight between two screenings.

For film critics, the Cannes Film Festival can be a test of endurance, watching three, four, five or more movies a day and then writing something clever about them. While some take notes during movies, doodling in the dark, others don’t like the distraction.

“Every day I write one or two reviews, right after the movies or the day after, but I never take notes,” says Spiniello, who averaged three screenings a day this year. “Of course I forget some scenes, but the overall feeling stays with me and that’s what I want to convey.”

Italian critic Aldo Spiniello on the media terrace of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. © David Rich, France 24

Dreaded by filmmakers, the festival’s notoriously annoying reviews are an integral part of the cinematic experience at Cannes. It’s not uncommon for people to boo movies or shout their disapproval. These shared moments in front of the big screen can shape a film’s reception as well as reviews from critics.

“For me, writing about films is about presenting a viewing experience,” says Spiniello. “Context is crucial.”

A veteran of this and other film festivals, Spiniello works for the film website Sentieri Selvaggi, named after the Italian title of John Ford’s 1956 western “The Searchers”, which also runs its own film school in Rome. .

Cannes is practically the playground of the large contingent of Italian critics who show up there every year. National hero Garibaldi was born a few miles from the coast in Nice (then known as Nizza), and the border with Italy is half an hour away. The chatter of Italian critics is ubiquitous in the long lines for press screenings. The Italians also dominate the frenzied photoshoots, cajoling the stars with feverish gestures and cries of “Girati! Girati!” (Turn around!) and “Guardami!(Look at me!), according to the FRANCE 24 red carpet photographer.

Cannes film festival
Cannes film festival © FRANCE24

With its heady mix of sun, sea, garish clothes and beach cubs playing techno music, Cannes would make the perfect backdrop for a trashy scene in a film by Italian Paolo Sorrentino, a frequent guest at the most glitzy city. But Spiniello tends to skip late-night parties to make sure he can keep up.

“It’s a bit of a circus here,” he says, referring to celebrities swooning on Cannes’ famous red carpet and along the beachfront La Croisette. Also accustomed to other film festivals, such as Venice and Berlin, Spiniello says that Cannes remains a world apart, “like a temple with its codes and its rules”.

Still the best?

While Spiniello prefers the big-city vibe of the Berlin Film Festival, Cannes’ palm-lined seaside and Old Town’s winding lanes never cease to charm Bangladeshi critic Rafi Hossain, Daily Star editor and traveler regular up from Europe. film encounters.

“It’s always good to be in Cannes. I travel to many festivals, but Cannes is the best,” says the festival veteran, seated at a long banquet table for the traditional aioli lunch hosted by the mayor of Cannes. “I always tell people it’s like heaven, like a postcard. The natural beauty is truly exceptional.

Cannes is still the best film festival for Rafi Hossain from Bangladesh.
Cannes is still the best film festival for Rafi Hossain from Bangladesh. © Benjamin Dodman, France 24

After screening its very first Bangladeshi film last year, Cannes has included a Pakistani feature for the first time this year. “Joyland” by Saim Sadiq, a daring portrait of a transgender dancer, won the “Queer Palm” prize on Friday for the best film with an LGBT, queer or feminist theme at the festival.

Cannes also made India its first-ever guest of honor at the film market running alongside the festival, confirming what Hossain sees as a growing focus on South Asia.

“There were no films from Bangladesh this year, but we were delighted to see Pakistan represented for the first time,” he says. “The festival is getting a lot of attention back home and I think we have the biggest (media) delegation in Bangladesh so far.”

Cannes 2022 rolls out the red carpet for Indian cinema

BIS! ©France 24

Like other journalists, however, Hossain has had a hellish time managing the festival’s new online ticketing portal, which coped during last year’s scaled-down edition but has now proven woefully inadequate. that the event is back in full force.

Travel has been another headache this year, with flight cancellations, train breakdowns and Covid restrictions still in place in some parts of the world.

“It’s always nice to be here in Cannes, but coming home might be a nightmare,” says Yuma Matsukawa, a Japanese film critic who doesn’t relish the prospect of having to self-quarantine at her return.

Japanese film critic Yuma Matsukawa (right), accompanied by photographer Kauko Wakayama.
Japanese film critic Yuma Matsukawa (right), accompanied by photographer Kauko Wakayama. © Benjamin Dodman, France 24

On the film side, Matsukawa describes its 17th Cannes Film Festival as a slow year, with few gems, especially in the main competition. Her favorite film was “My Imaginary Country” by Patricio Guzman, the veteran Chilean columnist of the Pinochet regime, whose latest documentary focuses on a new generation of activists fighting for social justice in his home country.

Gratifying Political Movies

As for the Palme d’Or race, Matsukawa’s top picks are Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness,” a Swedish director’s satire of the super-rich that won Cannes’ top prize in 2017, followed by of “Tori and Lokita”, an investigation into the immigration system in Belgium by the brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes, twice winners of the Palme d’Or. The latter film is also among Hossain’s favorites, along with Tarik Saleh’s “Boy from Heaven,” a thriller set in Cairo’s historic Al-Azhar Mosque that explores the twisted ties between religion and politics.

Overall, the festival’s focus on politically engaged works is good news, Matsukawa said, praising organizers for giving prominence to the war in Ukraine, whose president opened the festival last night. last week by calling on cinema to stand up to the dictators of the world.

“The festival is in tune with current issues, it is very focused on what is happening in the world,” she explains. “As the (Ukrainian) president said, cinema should be on the side of freedom. Cannes has made it clear where it stands.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the Cannes Film Festival.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the Cannes Film Festival. © Eric Gaillard, Reuters

Matsukawa cites Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda as an example of how cinema – and the imprimatur of Cannes – can shape the political agenda, noting that his 2018 Palme d’or for “shoplifters” socially oriented gave him “a platform to criticize the Japanese government”.

This year’s Cannes jury is expected to award similar fare. At the start of the festival, the president of the jury Vincent Lindon, the French actor known for his political roles, affirmed his preference for “films that tell us something about the world in which they are shot”.

“With Lindon in the chair, chances are the jury will want to award a political film, like [Cristian] Mungiu’s ‘RMN’,” says Spiniello, referring to the Romanian author whose latest drama explores issues of national identity in rural Transylvania.

Spiniello favorites include James Gray’s period drama ‘Armageddon Time’, David Cronenberg’s latest body horror film ‘Crimes of the Future’ and Mario Martone’s Neapolitan drama ‘Nostalgia’, all of which rank of choice in the tradition. reviews grid compiled by Screen Daily.

As the competition wraps up on Friday, South Korean Park Chan-wook leads the grid with his elegant dark romance “Decision to Leave.” But since when have the Cannes juries listened to the critics?


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