Cannes: From glamor to engagement

Have I already told you about the Mini-Wheats aspect of the Cannes Film Festival? There is the frosty side: the glamor, glitter, ubiquitous prestigious sponsors … Then the side that is good for the health … mental. Year after year, the selection hosts committed films, some of which cause barely perceptible but massive changes, much like the movement of tectonic plates.
C are social dramas do not go unnoticed: no less than ten of the last 15 Palmes d’Or were overtly political. The extreme case being Fahrenheit 9/11 Michael Moore (2004), indictment anti-George W. Bush (which did not prevent him from being reelected). Among these, two Ken Loach ( The Wind Rises , 2006, and Me, Daniel Blake , 2016) and a work by Dardenne ( The Child , 2005). We will see their new movies in the coming days.

We can watch the stars who go up the stairs and find pleasure. But we can also appreciate works that want to open our eyes to situations, conflicts or injustices that we prefer not to see too much. To grow, as Alejandro González Iñárritu said, the president of the jury.

The key word is balance, underlined the omnipresent (omnipotent, write others) Thierry Frémaux the day before the opening of this 72nd edition.

Last year, Spike Lee had once again proved that there is a way to combine substance and form. Operation infiltration ( BlacKKKlansman) was as hard-hitting as it was hilarious. I like it a lot when a director uses genre cinema to get his message across.

On Wednesday, Ladj Ly used police drama as a pretext in Les Miserables . It was Thursday’s turn for Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles to use the codes of the western to denounce the rise of the extreme right and the instrumentalization of the people.

Kleber Mendonça Filho is not at his early stage. In 2016, he delivered, among others, with the superb Aquarius , an allegorical resistance song. This time, Bucarau is an angry political fable. Because the Brazilian and his sidekick have had plenty of time to see the rise of a fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, in power since January.

“We felt the atmosphere in today’s society. It’s not limited to Brazil. It’s a bit of science fiction. But there are elements of the scenario that have surprised us, as if reality is catching up with fiction. Brazil is, in many ways, like a dystopia, “said the director, in a press conference, laughing.

The duo still located the action “in a few years”. In a small village lost in the middle of the arid lands of Nordeste, under the yoke of a vain, superficial and manipulative prefect (a disciple of Donald Trump), the inhabitants make passive resistance. And happy days flow under the sign of community help despite their limited resources (they are not saints).

Until Bucharau landed “foreigners” – supremacist Americans who had fun killing those peaceful people (it’s a little bit of mustard and caricature, but, well, we love the really bad villains in the westerns, is not it?).

The proud and independent villagers do not know until a family disappears. The inhabitants will then seek an outlaw (the Unforgivable , the classic twilight Clint Eastwood, or The seven samurai Kurosawa) to help them defend themselves against the invasion …

The charge is interesting and the film follows a beautiful dramatic curve. The end is a little too bloody for my taste. Bucarau will certainly spark a lot of reactions in Brazil …

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Let’s go back, if you want, to what I said at the beginning. When there is a climb of the stairs with lots of stars, there are easily a hundred photographers (by sight, I did not count them). For Atlantic, Thursday afternoon, barely a dozen. Certainly a first feature film with amateur actors about young people from the suburbs of Dakar who dream of a better world …

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