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Today marks the beginning of the Cannes International Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, in the south of France. In the Danish newspaper Politiken’s online edition, film critic Kim Skotte took a look at this years selection of competing features and noted that Denmark still have what it takes to walk among titans.
For Danes, the oldest and most prestigious film festival in the world is often centered on the surprisingly consistent representation of Danish craftsmanship. You could say that after winning this years Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, Denmark is not afraid to strut their feathers at the French Riviera. This year has Lars von Trier and his movie Melancholia as well as Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive competing while a third movie, Labrador, has been chosen for an exclusive screening in the official program.
However, the Danes do realize that the Cannes is not just about our own contributions.
If we look at the contenders for the Palme d’Or, this year sports an unusually strong mix of directors – that is, if we base our predictions on the accomplishments of these which is really all we can go on at this point. Of course, the pro can sometimes fail miserably while the virtually unknown can bring positive surprises. Guesswork aside, the battle for the golden palms is gonna be fought amongst established ‘old-timers’, upcoming talents and the odd jokers.
Besides Lars von Trier, who won the highest prize in 2000 with Dancer In The Dark, the selection holds several other winners and especially – nearly-winners.
Amazingly enough, the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has never won the Palms though he came close in 1999 with Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother). This year he has a new shot with La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I live In), based on the novel Tarantula by the French crime author Thierry Jonquets. The movie is said to be a new direction for the filmmaker with a twist of old. This is founded in the fact that the story has been described by Almodóvar to Cineuropa as “a horror story without screams or frights” and stars Antonio Banderas as the troubled plastic surgeon.
The jury, headed by veteran Robert De Niro this year, has the opportunity to fall for an array of other styles however. The Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have previously won two times already and their film Le Gamin au Velo could prove a third success.
From Italy, two strong contenders are present. Paolo Sorrentino first made an impression with his experimental Il Divo which won the Jury prize in 2008. This year is his fourth time at the French resort with his American excursion This Must Be The Place, starring Sean Penn. He is matched by Nanni Moretti, a seventh time contender who have also managed to win in 2001 with La Stanza Del Figlio (The Son’s Room)
Overall, the field is speckled with experienced people – Terrence Malik, director of The Thin Red Line, brings The Tree of Life while the Finish director Aki Kaurismäki makes his fourth appearance along with Japanese Naomi Kawase, the youngest winner of Caméra d’Or.
The scene is set for a battle of established names and talents and even though film is regarded an art form, the competition between May 11-21 could prove a fierce race, leaving us gasping for air. If you want to learn more, please visit the Festival site.