Cannes Film Festival 2022: Glamor in times of war | Cinema | DW

Offering glamor while remaining political: such has always been the claim of the most important European film festival in Cannes. But in wartime Europe, this combination offers the potential for conflict. Artistic director Thierry Fremaux announced very early on that he did not wish to receive official Russian delegations at the festival, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

However, Fremaux had reserved the right to include Russian filmmakers in the program.

Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov was invited to the competition with his film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife”. He had not received any funding from the Russian state, Fremaux explained.

Excerpt from “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” by Kirill Serebrennikov

This is Serebrennikov’s third time at Cannes. The Russian, under house arrest in his native country for two years, now lives in Germany. The biographical film chronicles an episode in the life of world-renowned Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, who, fearing he might come out as gay, married a young woman who was in love with him, leading to a tumultuous marriage and his descent into the dark. madness. .

The return of the famous

“Tchaikovsky’s wife” is in the running with 20 other films – including four directed by women – for the Palme d’Or. Among them are many returnees who have won the prestigious award. American veteran David Cronenberg, for example, makes his highly anticipated return with “Crimes of the Future” featuring Lea Seydoux, Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart in the lead roles. The sci-fi horror film is set in a future world where the biological makeup of humans can be altered by advanced technologies.

Other previous winners include Belgian brother duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Swedish director Ruben Östlund, Japanese Hirokazu Kore-eda, who won the 2018 Palme d’or for “Shoplifters”, and Romanian Cristian Mungiu. . South Korean director Park Chan-wook was also honored twice at Cannes with the Jury Prize. His film in the running this time is called “Decision to leave” and is a crime thriller.

“Armageddon Time” boasts a star-studded cast. The film by American James Gray is set during the Ronald Reagan election period, in which the Trump family also took part. Anne Hathaway and Anthony Hopkins star. The director has already been invited five times to Cannes but has left empty-handed so far.

Horror and Glamor

There’s no shortage of macabre films this year, starting with the opening film “Cut!” a zombie comedy from “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius. Translated as “Cut!” — a pun on what movie directors often shout at the end of a take — it’s about cinematic craftsmanship and vampirism. Originally titled “Z (as Z)”, the film was renamed because the letter “Z” could be associated with the symbol used by Russia during the Ukrainian War.

The thriller “Holy Spider,” an entry by Iranian director Ali Abbasi, is also disturbing. A man known as the “Spider Killer” is wreaking havoc in the Iranian holy city of Mashhad by murdering prostitutes in what he considers his divine mission.

A group of uniformed pilots standing and in the background is a fighter jet

Scene from the sequel to the 80s cult film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise

Several previews of films not in the running will also add to the glamorous quotient of the festival. There’s the sequel to the 1986 cult action film “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise, and Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s highly anticipated biography of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll titled “Elvis.” American actor Austin Butler plays young Elvis, while Tom Hanks plays his equally legendary manager.

Europe and its migration history

The representation of the African continent is awfully obvious with no contest entries from there. Yet some directors have devoted themselves to themes of colonialism, migration and racism. The Belgian Dardenne brothers present “Tori et Lokita”, a drama about two young migrants from the African continent, with Joely Mbundu and Pablo Schils in the main roles.

Scene from the film The Stars at Noon

Scene from the movie “The Stars at Noon”

In “Mère et fils”, French director Leonor Serraille tells the story of Rose and her two sons, Ernest and Jean, who emigrate from the Ivory Coast to Paris in 1986. The film follows the family until 2010, showing how they grow together but also almost break apart. Catalan videographer Albert Serra’s “Pacification — Torment on the Islands” is set in French Polynesia and focuses on the conflicts between the French establishment and the local population.

Participation in the Christian Mungiu competition could be instructive in understanding racism. His drama “RMN” is set in a village community in Transylvania. After the influx of foreign factory workers, it is invaded by racist prejudices. A disturbing mix of fears, frustrations, conflicts and passions erupts.

Ukrainian films and boycott of Russia

In early March, the film festival announced that it would exclude Russian delegations from participation until the Russian attack ceased under conditions satisfactory to the Ukrainian people. And indeed, no official Russian representative, filmmaker, film critic or journalist has been invited to the event this year. The fact that Kirill Serebrennikov, who lives in Germany, is now in the competition only slightly softens this tough stance.

Posters in support of Ukraine at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes

Posters in support of Ukraine at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes

Typically, the ban prevents people like famous Russian film critic Andrei Plakhov from Lviv from attending the event. However, he reacted with aplomb. “Perhaps we really need to understand what it is to be a citizen of an aggressor country,” he wrote in a public statement on his Facebook page.

However, not everyone in Ukraine shares the “zero tolerance” policy towards anything Russian. For example, Sergei Loznitsa, arguably Ukraine’s most renowned filmmaker, spoke out against a general boycott of Russian films as recently as March.

“What’s happening is terrible,” he said in an interview with Variety. “But I call on everyone not to go into the frenzy. We have to judge people not on their passports, but on their actions.” This position earned Loznitsa an expulsion from the National Film Academy of Ukraine, which was founded in 2017. At Cannes, his film “The Natural History of Destruction” is screened as a special out-of-competition entry.

Film on the front

The film “Mariupolis 2” by Mantas Kvedaravicius will also be screened in Cannes. Ironically, the Lithuanian director was assassinated by the Russian army in Mariupol in April. His fiancée Hanna Bilobrova, who was there with him, was able to secure the footage that had already been shot. In collaboration with the editor-in-chief of Mantas Kvedaravicius, Dounia Sichov, a poignant and highly topical contemporary testimony has been created. So the organizers of the festival announced that it was absolutely essential to present “Mariupolis 2” in Cannes. That’s why the film was only recently added to the schedule and will premiere on May 19.

Scene from the film 'Père & Soldat' by Mathieu Vadepied

Scene from the film ‘Père & Soldat’ by Mathieu Vadepied

In one of the parallel programs of the festival, “Un Certain Regard”, another film attracts attention, namely “Vision of a butterfly” by the young Ukrainian director Maksim Nakonechnyi. Completed before the war, the film tells “a harsh surreal story of a warrior, the pilot Lilja, who tries desperately to resume a normal life after the experience of captivity”, according to the director. “Unfortunately, my film was probably a premonition of war,” Nakonechnyi said. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, he is now on the front line, with his weapon and his camera. “I want to make a documentary out of it,” he says.

This article was originally written in German.

Darcy J. Skinner