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LONDON – This year’s competition lineup of the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in May provided a mixed bag of emotions for the major European filmmaking nations.
GERMANY: The German media found itself lamenting another no show in the lineup for its filmmakers while the country’s industry contingent found small crumbs of comfort by laying claim to four German co-productions due to unspool in Competition on the Riviera. German newspaper Die Welt highlighted the lack of German competition entries. The paper referenced director Alice Rohrwacher‘s The Marvels (Le Meraviglie) entry In Competition, noting sanguinely that while the filmmaker’s mother is German, the film and Rohrwacher is Italian.
And the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “The competition for the Golden Palm 2014 once again takes place without German participation.”
But with Wim Wenders co-directing his documentary The Salt of The Earth with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, a French production about the Brazilian photographer and explorer Sebastiao Salgado, at least one big name will lend a German flourish to Cannes.
And Paris, Texas, Wenders’ desert road movie, is 30 years old this year and will take a slot in the Cannes Classics. So while the German press bemoaned the German absence, it was left to industry body German Films to trumpet the country’s efforts.
The organization noted that Olivier Assayas‘ Clouds of Sils Maria, Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Winter Sleep, David Cronenberg‘s Maps To The Stars and The Marvels all feature German co-production partners. And in Un Certain Regard, Amour Fou by Jessica Hausner and Away from His Absence by Keren Yedaya all enjoy German financial participation and will unspool alongside Salt of the Earth.
And there will also be a special screening for what Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux described in announcing the lineup on Thursday as a collective filmmaking effort of The Bridges of Sarajevo, featuring European directors commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. German director Angela Schanelec is one of the filmmakers contributing a short film.
ITALY: Italy went all out in celebration of its two official selections. Rohrwacher’s The Marvels, which stars Monica Bellucci and the director’s sister Alba Rohrwacher, in the main competition and Imcompresa from Asia Argento, the daughter of horror master Dario Argento and starring Charlotte Gainsbourg in Un Certain Regard, were heralded in some Italian media quarters as further proof of the re-emergence of Italian cinema du auteur after the recent Oscar win for Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty.
Several media outlets in Italy made specific mention that it was female directors garnering the attention this time around. Perhaps to head off disappointment ahead of Fremaux’s announcement some Italian films rumored to be headed to Cannes went public in recent days saying they wouldn’t be ready in time, including Abel Ferrara’s Pier Paolo Pasolini biopic Pasolini, The Invisible Boy (Il ragazzo invisibile) from Oscar-winner Gabriele Salvatores, Nanni Moretti’s Mia madr and Il giovane favoloso from Mario Martone.
SPAIN: Spain’s industry output is repped by Argentine Damian Szifron‘s Wild Tales, a Spanish-Argentine co-production. Backed by the Pedro and Agustin Almodovar production house El Deseo, Szifron caught the attention of the Almodovar brothers after his 2005 On Probation.
UNITED KINGDOM: For Anglo-French relations, this year’s lineup represents a return to form for British filmmakers with the old guard mixing it up with the new after last year’s paltry showing, which included no representatives In Competition.
The British media was awash with the news that both both Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner and Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall secured slots in Cannes. Both got backing from Film4, broadcaster Channel 4’s stand-alone filmmaking arm, and are In Competition. Film4 chief Tessa Ross, who is to step down in the fall to join the National Theater, called Leigh and Loach two of the U.K.’s “most significant filmmakers” noting that “Ken and Mike are synonymous with great British filmmaking; with Jimmy’s Hall and Mr. Turner they return to Cannes with two wonderful films which join their extraordinary canon of work. We’re privileged to have supported them both.”
Loach won the Palme D’Or in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, while Leigh won the same prize 10 years before with Secrets & Lies. The last time both had films In Competition together in Cannes was in 2010, with Leigh’s Another Year and Loach’s Route Irish.
British Film Institute director Ben Roberts, gatekeeper of the U.K.’s lottery-funded production support cashpool, also congratulated the veterans and film editor Andrew Hulme, whose directorial debut, Snow in Paradise, will premiere in Un Certain Regard.
EASTERN EUROPE: The decision by Cannes selectors to include Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s feature Leviathan in the main competition and, in the special screenings section, Belarusian-born Sergei Loznitsa‘s Maidan, is widely regarded by industry observers as a nod to political sensitivities and balance at a time of international tension over the crisis in Ukraine.
Maidan is a two-hour documentary shot in Kiev during Ukraine’s revolution. Loznitsa grew up in Kiev and movies by both directors have competed in Cannes before; in 2010 Loznitsa’s feature debut, My Joy, was nominated for a Palme D’Or, and two years ago his second feature, In the Fog, won a FIPRESECI award at Cannes.
Zvyagintsev’s debut, The Banishment, played in main competition in 2007, and in 2011 he won a jury prize in Un Certain Regard for Elena. Like Elena, his new film Leviathan is a complicated family drama. And also from Eastern Europe comes Polsky Gabe‘s Red Army, a novel documentary on Soviet-era ice hockey, adding a further Russian flavor to Cannes.
Los Angles filmmaker Gabe is the son of Russian immigrants to the U.S., and his film looks at Soviet Cold War culture through the prism of ice hockey, which remains a national obsession to this day in Russia.
Eric J. Lyman, Pamela Rolfe, Nick Holdsworth, Georg Szalai contributed to this report.
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