A Special Day (Une Journee Particuliere): Cannes Review

 Gilles Jacob's fourth short documentary devoted to Cannes festivals gone by.

Gilles Jacob's short documentary celebrating festivals past features 34 renowned directors and footage from a press conference Roman Polanski found so "poor" he declared it over.

Longtime Cannes Film Festival seigneur Gilles Jacob has made three previous short documentaries based on doings at the always glamorous cinematic feast in the South of France. A Special Day may be among the more insubstantial of the group but it does, as current festival director Thierry Fremaux asserted in introducing it, boast “the best cast a cinephile could wish for:” 34 celebrated directors from all over the world brought together to pose for a joint photograph to mark the festival's 60th anniversary. Depending upon the country, this nearly hour-long exercise in spot-the-auteur will serve as a TV arts channel special or a DVD item.

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n addition to showing up in Cannes in 2007, the 34 also contributed three-minute shorts, meant to express something about the appeal or meaning of the cinema, to a joint assemblage shown under the title To Each His Own Cinema. Snippets of these invariably uneven but occasionally memorable efforts are interspersed here with glimpses of the men—and one woman, Jane Campion—making the obligatory ceremonial rounds to a photo call, a procession to the Palais, the big screening and a lavish dinner, the intensive kitchen preparations for which are even detailed. Most memorable, however, is a press conference at which Roman Polanski finds the softball questions so “poor” that he declares the gathering over and decamps to lunch, followed by the others.

There's nothing to be learned here, only faces to be gazed at, identities to be established in unusual proximity to one another, potential friendships and rivalries pondered. Cronenberg, Gonzalez Inarritu, Assayas, Lelouch, Oliveira and the Dardennes all appear very affable, the Asians keep mostly to themselves, and Salles arguably made the best three-minute film of all of them; nothing shown here proves anything.

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Most weirdly intriguing of all, however, is the appearance of Michael Cimino, looking intensely thin and nearly Asian himself, invariably garbed in white, obviously having had considerable face work done and mixing uncertainly with the others. Has he ever been seen in public since?

The premiere of the film marked a special day of its own, as many of those who participated in the event five years ago joined Jacob for a reunion, occasioning another much-photographed moment onstage. 

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (out of competition)

Production: Pyramide Prods., Festival de Cannes

Cast: Theo Angelopoulos, Olivier Assayas, Bille August, Jane Campion, Michael Cimino, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Raymond Depardon, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Just Jaekin, Chen Kaige, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Andrei Konchlovsky, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti, Manoel de Oliveira, Roman Polanski, Raul Ruiz, Walter Salles, Elie Suleiman, Tsai Ming Liang, Gus Van Sant, Wim Wenders, Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Yimou

Director: Gilles Jacob, assisted by Samuel Faure

Editors: Gilles Jacob, Samuel Faure

Foreign sales: Films Distribution

55 minutes