Editorial – Thoughts On Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing at the moment. It’s a festival towards which I’ve shown scant interest in the past, although I have to admit that the history and legacy of the event does tempt (That, and the now-infamous rain). Twinges of jealousy have seeped through in reading Craig Keller’s rapturous response to Jean-Luc Godard’s new 3D short (check that out here) while this week’s screening of James Gray’s The Immigrant looks set to inspire similar feelings.

On a Cannes note I took in a screening of the legendary Chronicle Of A Summer over the weekend. Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s film is a mainstay of text books as a landmark of it’s period, and as an early example of Cinéma vérité, and yet somehow the whole picture had eluded me for many years. The fact that it had never previously been released on home video didn’t help, but thanks the BFI the film is being issued commercially at the end of the month.

The film won the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 1961, with the declaration of it’s plaudit setting a playful tone from the off. The film opens with it comparing itself to other films that were bestowed with honours at the festival, and turns to thank those who made the film possible with the cryptic philosophical statement that “This film was made without actors, but lived with by men and women”.

The unique representation (re-presentation?) of the real recalls the likes of Orson Welles’ F For Fake and William Greaves’ Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, and presents a collage of fascinating footage. Extremely cinematic figures pop up amongst the ordinary, with everyday folk revealing darker aspects to their personality. “No one could manage if they stuck to the law” suggests one man, a mechanic who is moderately happy with the direction in which his life is headed. These people feel like characters from the period of dramatic cinema being produced in the city (Paris) at the time. Very little separates these people from the likes of Viva Sa Vie’s Nana (Godard was said to have been heavily influenced by Rouch and Morin’s representation of the real). I’d recommend that others take in the film as soon as the opportunity arises.

Periodical #2 is due to reach iTunes later this week, which harbours it’s own Cannes relation (one contributor has just screened their new film there, to rapturous applause). It’s a hefty tome, and I’m hoping it is warmly received.

Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief

Further Reading

Godard Posters. These are very nice.

Also

This week’s Criticwire Survey. In which we were asked to talk about nostalgia.

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