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Festival de Cannes 2016 highlights

Festival de Cannes 2016 highlights

Cannes Film Festival 2016Days before the 69th Cannes Festival of Film opened, French historian and journalist Gonzague Saint-Bris launched his new book, “Un ruban de rêve”


(literally ‘Images of dreams’), focusing on the very first Festival in September 1946:

US stars arriving by hydroplane, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor with their 100 suitcases, a single film projection room, the last reel of Hitchcock shown before the first….

The decade that followed was a golden age.





Take a look at these B&W photos worthy of any collection:

How very different from 2016: An anti-terrorist exercise a month before the opening involved 200 participants – “The risks we face change; who would have thought of such a situation 5 or 10 years ago”, explained Mayor, David Lisnard; 500 additional security personnel were recruited.

There was recognition from the vast majority of commentators that it was a vintage year on the screens. An often acerbic Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian went as far as to say “the competition list was a virtually uninterrupted hot streak of talent”.

The 21 films in competition for the mythical Palme d’Or didn’t satisfy everyone at first – “Too many old regulars, the Dardenne brothers, Ken Loach, Aldomovar, Jarmusch…” for Le Monde; “Gender equality in the movie business under scrutiny at Cannes Festival” from Eye Witness News in South Africa… But all was forgiven later.


Of course, the eventual prize-list announced on the final Sunday by Jury President George Millar didn’t meet with everyone’s approval.

“That’s normal”, explained Woody Allen: "I don't believe in competitions for artistic things… You can't determine whether a Picasso is better than a Matisse… I love coming to Cannes … but to be in competition would be against my common sense.”

So, what about the films!

The only genuine flop was Sean Penn’s The Last Face – a love affair between aid workers in an NGO in Liberia.

  •  “Misfires on every front”, The Wrap’s Ben Croll.
  •  “… so futile.”  James Mottram in The Independent
  •  “How did it get into the selection …?” Le Figaro’s Mathilde Doiezie.

The coveted Palme went to I Daniel Blake, by Ken Loach. Set in Newcastle, it was subtitled in English and French at the Cannes Film Festival over fears the audience would’nt understand the Geordie accents.

Typical of reviews from the international press at the screening:

  • “Blunt, dignified and brutally moving”, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw
  • “The wrenching tragedy of the common man” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Skull-shaking study of Kafkaesque lunacy” Donald Clarke, Irish Times

Reactions after the Jury’s decision were more muted in the belief that Loach had made a perfect iconoclast film but, in the competition, there were more adventurous successes by newer and more deserving talents.

Le Figaro’s Eric Neuhof went wild, ranting against Loach, the Jury and the Festival:

  • “The jury again surpassed its natural tendency to make mistakes. The Festival is almost 70…, it qualifies for a disability pension, like mister Loach’s carpenter. Move on, the show’s over.”

The film that completely missed out but that you must go and see  

-Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade, a surprise selection for a young German Director, who won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival in 2009. She is “the first German for a very long time to compete for the Palme”, says Festival Director Thierry Frèmaux.  


  • Le Monde’s, Mathieu Macheret : “…marvelously simple, precision of tempo, the staggering accuracy of the actors… irresistibly funny …. Should finish high in the awards list”;
  • Donald Clarke, The Irish Times: “(The audience) clapped… did a bit of whooping… laughed like the proverbial discharge pipe. Its trophy cabinet will not be empty in 10 days’ time.”
  • Hollywood Reporter, Leslie Felperin: “moving…implausibly funny”.

And it didn’t get a single Pot or Palm! You can begin to understand Neuhof’s rant.



Other top awards

X. Dolan

Grand Prix: Xavier Dolan, It's Only the End of the World
The Guardian’s   Bradshaw: “Brilliant, stylized and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction…but the majority of critics at Cannes were decidedly less kind”.

Jury Prize: Andrea Arnold’s American Honey
“American Honey ran off the road” (Le Figaro)
    Others were a bit less severe, but nevertheless, not award-potential for the critics.

Best Actress: Jaclyn Jos in Ma Rosa
    Must have been a close call for Isabelle Huppert in Elle:

  • “Isabelle Huppert’s staggering psychological dissections” (Variety),
  • “Huppert imbues Michele with terrific ambiguity” (IndieWire), “the great Isabelle Huppert” (Hollywood Reporter)
  • Or for Ruth Negga in Loving: “Negga, is a revelation” (Evening Standard)

Best Actor: Shahab Hosseini in The Salesman

Best Director: Olivier Assayas, Personal Shopper:

  • “Brilliant, stylized and hallucinatory evocation of family dysfunction but the majority of critics at Cannes were decidedly less kind. “ (Guardian)

    & Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation

  • “Romania dominates. Tiny country, great cinema.” Eric Neuhof, Le Figaro
  • “…dazzling, all the way through” Telerama, Peter Murat

Best Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman:

  •  “Farhadi absolutely remains a force to reckon with”, Ben Croll, The Wrap






There it is, just a glimpse.
Next year, taste the excitement, glamour, controversies for real.
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