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The official poster for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival looks back to one of the first movies to take cinema, not life, as its inspiration.
The poster — featuring a man ascending a staircase that faces the Mediterranean, the whole scene bathed in golden light — is based on stills from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 classic Contempt. The movie is a film business satire, starring Jack Palance as a philistine Hollywood producer who hires Fritz Lang (playing himself) to direct an adaptation of The Odyssey. When it looks like the picture will be a box office flop, the producer brings in a new screenwriter (played by Michel Piccoli) to jazz up the script. But personal problems with his wife (Brigitte Bardot) start to interfere with his work.
Almost instantly hailed as a classic, Contempt is credited as one of the first-ever self-reflective movies, a film about films. Famously, problems in the making of the movie, and Godard’s own marital issues at the time, are reflected in the final cut. It inspired the generations of filmmakers that came after it, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.
The poster’s setting, and the stairs, evoke Cannes’ Palais cinema, where the 69th festival will open May 11, but picking Godard’s film as inspiration seems an almost political act. Festival organizers say the choice shows Cannes is “reiterating its founding commitment: to pay tribute to the history of film, and to welcome new ways of creating and seeing.” It’s notable, given the current battle over digital distribution and Sean Parker’s home-cinema Screening Room proposal, that Cannes picked a film unabashedly celluloid. Contempt was shot in CinemaScope and is a love letter to the traditional cinema. The man on the Cannes poster is ascending to what appears to be a cinema screen.
Herve Chigioni designed the poster together with Gilles Frappier.
Mad Max director George Miller will preside over this year’s Cannes Festival jury. The official lineup for the 2016 festival is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The 2016 Cannes Festival runs May 11 to 22.
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