Cannes Film Festival: The cinema has become more prudish
Ideally, the cinema makes its viewers temporary body eaters. A film can be a short journey into someone else's skin, take you into completely strange contexts for two hours. In the competition of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, the body eater motif occurred twice, in Jessica Hausner's "Little Joe", in which pollen sneaks into people's souls and changes them forever, just as the botanists had previously changed their genetic makeup; and in Mati Diop's "Atlantique", where drowned refugees like demons drive into the leftover living in an African coastal town.
Both films were awarded at the closing gala on Saturday. Diop won the Grand Prix, Hausner's leading actress Emily Beecham received the Actress Award. Both films are disturbing in their best sense, and if they haunt their viewers like demons, they have better things in mind than Hausner's evil flowers. Films trigger thoughts and open up perspectives. The main prize, the Golden Palm, was won by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for "Parasite", who has been a guest in Cannes several times.
Not only because both films are from Asia, the palm winner is related to last year's winning film: As in the Japanese "Shoplifters", this year also focuses on a family that lives on the edge of the subsistence minimum and is just above water with legal and illegal actions holds. But then the son gets a job as a tutor with a wealthy family who lives in a dignified villa, and from then on everything changes. Bong Joon-ho asked the critics in Cannes to stop revealing the story, just so much: A softly flickering light and a skewer will play a crucial role. "Parasite" combines the strengths of his earlier films, the horror of the monster horror "The Host", the family drama of the thriller "Mother" and the originally formulated class criticism of his English-language film "Snowpiercer". The film remains exciting right down to the last twist.
"Parasite" fits perfectly into this competition. Ladj Ly's "Les Misérables", also among the award winners (he shares the jury's award with "Bacarau"), is actually shot from an exciting perspective, for example. The director himself has experienced the 2005 riots in the suburbs of Paris, and he alternately puts us in a boy who is just being pushed around and a policeman who would like to change everything for the better. If you want to know how unrest is rocking up, you can feel it here.
You can actually justify each of the prizes that were awarded. There would have been half a dozen other worthy Golden Palm winners. The brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, for the eighth time in Cannes, worked lovingly on a radicalized youth in "Le jeune Ahmed", for which they were awarded the best directors. In "Portrait de la jeune fille en feu", Celine Sciamma imagines a story that art historians can document, but which cinema usually does not show: women among themselves in the 18th century. A young painter travels to a remote French country house where she is supposed to paint something that she can actually paint - the daughter of the house, a portrait that is sent to her fiancé that she never met. Mother and servant travel, and in the middle part this film is a menage-a-trois among women. Sciamma was awarded for Best Screenplay, but her film was so unusual and great through and through that it deserved any other award.
Despite all the enthusiasm for the films themselves, it was difficult to overlook the fact that something was wrong with Cannes. Somehow everything was there, the right topics, ambiguous genre cinema, stars for the red carpet, and the fact that everything is perhaps a bit calmer than ten years ago is actually not a disadvantage.
The 72nd Film Festival had pretty good competition, but the mood was subdued. On the one hand, this may be because there seems to be no more controversy and heated debates, no more passionate defense speeches. The cinema has become more prudish. Perhaps not out of caution, but because all taboos have already been broken, which makes provocations unappealing.
A debate about whether a certain type of filmmaking works or not would have been most likely to be "A Hidden Life" by Terrence Malick, which is about Franz Jägerstätter, who paid for his refusal to serve under the Nazis with his life. Only the story in snippets at Malick is a method that he already established in 2011 with "The Tree of Life", which was also in the Cannes & nbsp; competition.
It's not the films and their creators who did almost everything right. But more than ever before, each screening raises the question of whether these films, even the great ones, still reach their audience. This even applies to Pedro Almodóvar's "Suffering and Glory", for which Antonio Banderas received the award for the best male actor. In most countries, including Germany, the type of cinema that can be seen at festivals is no longer as successful in normal cinema operations as it used to be. These films are lost in the flood of offerings and they often actually require a screen, even for many of the Netflix productions that are locked out in Cannes but increase the company's fame at other festivals. How many Netflix subscribers actually saw "Roma", which had its premiere in Venice and was then celebrated at the Oscars, and if so: can you really see Alfonso Cuarón's pictures on a small screen the way he meant them? Can you feel that he is staging this maid in her smock as if she were Sophia Loren? This is the cross with today's cinema. Only superheroes can survive on the screen alone. Relevance requires visibility; but if some of these films don't make it to the big screen, they're sunken treasures waiting to be recovered.