FLASH! BANG! Thank You CANNES! Selfies Are Banned but Otherwise It's Red-Carpet Business as Usual at the World's Most Glamorous Film Festival. So Will Woody Allen Be Booed? and Why's Tom Hardy out of the Running? Event Critic Matthew Bond Reveals All

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 10, 2015 | Go to article overview

FLASH! BANG! Thank You CANNES! Selfies Are Banned but Otherwise It's Red-Carpet Business as Usual at the World's Most Glamorous Film Festival. So Will Woody Allen Be Booed? and Why's Tom Hardy out of the Running? Event Critic Matthew Bond Reveals All


Byline: Matthew Bond

The glamour days when Brigitte Bardot posed in a bikini on the town beach or Grace Kelly was driven down the Croisette in a convertible Rolls-Royce are long gone, but the world's most extraordinary film festival, which begins this Wednesday, is still an unmissable event.

For anyone attending the annual madness, with its endless queues, traffic jams and parties you haven't quite been invited to, there's only one way to survive - take a deep breath, grab the nearest glass of chilled rose and jump in.

First held in 1946, the festival has evolved into an extraordinary two-headed beast.

At one end, you have critics like me - thousands of us - traipsing in and out of the Grand Theatre Lumiere (mornings) and the Salle Debussy (afternoons and evenings) to see some of the most intellectually demanding films that world cinema can produce.

At the other, you have some of the biggest names in Hollywood posing nightly on that famous red carpet for pictures that will be reproduced in every corner of the globe, the words Cannes Film Festival always prominent in the caption. Festival director Thierry Fremaux may have banned the taking of 'selfies' on the red carpet this year, but the festival has never lost its talent for self-promotion.

Cannes likes to pretend the two elements - high art and high glitz - are part of a coherent whole, but they're not, particularly after a 15-20-year period that has seen the selection of competition films (18-20 films compete for the coveted Palme d'Or every year) increasingly in thrall to a demanding European arthouse aesthetic that tends to look down its long, aquiline nose at the sort of films that real people might actually want to go and see.

The winner of last year's Palme d'Or, for instance, the aptly named Winter Sleep, a gruelling three-hour drama from the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, did not exactly pack 'em in at your local Odeon.

It makes you long for the late Sixties, when Blow Up, If..., MASH and The Go-Between won the Palme d'Or, or indeed the Seventies and Eighties, when the top prize went to undisputed classics such as Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Paris, Texas and Sex, Lies And Videotape. But Jane Campion's The Piano (she remains the only female director to win the Palme d'Or) in 1993 and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction in 1994 are probably the last time Cannes was won by a film with real commercial potential.

But magic can still happen, which is why Cannes continues to play such an important role in the film year. Four years ago, the Palme d'Or went to Terrence Malick's portentous The Tree of Life, but what I will remember forever is being in the first audience ever to see Michel Hazanavicius's silent masterpiece, The Artist. It would go on to win no less than five Oscars the following year. For the right film, Cannes continues to be a launchpad for an Oscar campaign.

But it doesn't always work. Last year, Mike Leigh, who along with Ken Loach is one of only two British directors to have won the Palme d'Or in the past 20 years, looked to have got off to the perfect award season start with his widely admired biopic Mr Turner. …

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FLASH! BANG! Thank You CANNES! Selfies Are Banned but Otherwise It's Red-Carpet Business as Usual at the World's Most Glamorous Film Festival. So Will Woody Allen Be Booed? and Why's Tom Hardy out of the Running? Event Critic Matthew Bond Reveals All
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