Selfies, #MeToo and glamorous films at Cannes

Seeing red: Married couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in Cannes. © Getty

Is cinema dead? The world’s most prestigious film festival is underway. This year, Cannes has been rocked by a slew of silly and serious scandals. But the movies themselves are promising...

There are many rules when walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. Women are encouraged to wear high heels. Men must wear tuxedos. And this year, another new rule: no selfies. The “disorder” which selfies create “tarnishes the quality” of the red carpet, said artistic director Thierry Frémaux.

That is just one of the rows at Cannes this year. Off the red carpet, journalists and organisers are arguing about everything from the lack of female directors to whether Netflix films should be allowed to compete for the top prize.

It is also the first major film festival since the #MeToo movement began transforming the industry.

But what about the films? Cannes opened with Everybody Knows, a thriller which stars Penelope Cruz who is confronted with secrets from her past.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story of an African-American detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

Under the Silver Lake stars Andrew Garfield as a young man trying to find his missing neighbour.

There will be documentaries about Whitney Houston, Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis.

And for fantasy fans, there is a screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new prequel about a young Han Solo.

Is it fair to accuse Cannes (and cinema in general) of becoming irrelevant?

No Cannes do

Yes, argue some. The festival is refusing to keep up with the times. Such snobbery is a surefire way to turn off ordinary film fans, who would often rather stream movies in their own home anyway. The inclusion of Star Wars is merely a reminder that filmmakers have run out of ideas.

Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated, say others. It is good for Cannes to have high standards. As for cinema, there is something for everyone. The stories tackle important themes about family, justice and human nature. Vive le cinéma!

You Decide

  1. Do you care which films are showing at Cannes this year?

Activities

  1. Rank the seven films mentioned in this article in the order in which you would most like to see them. Discuss your list with the person sitting next to you.

Some People Say...

“Cinema is gone. The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone.”

Martin Scorsese

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The festival opened on Tuesday and will be screening brand new movies until May 19. There are 18 movies competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or prize this year, including three that were directed by women. The prize will be decided by a “jury” of well-known figures from world cinema.
What do we not know?
Which movie will win this year’s prize.

Word Watch

Cannes Film Festival
The first major film festival of the calendar year. This will be its 71st festival.
Female directors
There are three films directed by women up for the Palme d’Or this year, out of 18. While this sounds small, consider 2012, when the official competition had no female directors.
Netflix
Cannes insisted that its films must have a cinema run to be eligible for its prize. In response, Netflix pulled all of its films due to show at Cannes last week.
#MeToo
A movement protesting sexual harassment.

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