Saturday, May 22, 2004

Cannes #10

Friends: It is Saturday morning and I could have a final sensational weekend of film-going ahead of me, as today the 20 films in the Un Certain Regard section are being rescreened, and tomorrow everything in Competition. I've seen about half of each category, but there are five or six each day that I'm very glad to have the opportunity to see, including the much talked about "Fahrenheit 911." I was lucky to see "Cronicas" already this morning, an Ecuadorean film starring John Leguzomo. Leguzomo plays an Geraldo Rivera type character investigating a mass murder in Ecuador. This was another fine film from a small country in South America that isn't known for its cinema, just as "Whisky" from Uruguay. But in contrast to the extreme understatement of "Whisky", this was much more charged, opening with a near lynching, once again showing man's bestial nature.

The weekend's schedule wasn't announced until late last night, otherwise I might not have stayed out late watching the Egyptian film "Alexdrie...New York" from master and former Cannes tributee Youssef Chahine. It would have been wiser to have gotten to bed before midnight so I'd be good and strong for this home stretch, which includes the Awards Ceremony
tonight. I'd don't have the attire to attend, but it is being simulcast in the Bunuel, the second largest theater here. Chahine's homage to himself ran over two hours and started late as the Un Certain Regard awards preceded it. The Sengelese film "Moolade" won first prize, no surprise, but second prize going to the "Whisky" was a bit of a surprise, though it would have been my choice. The jury president said "Moolade" was a unanimous choice of the six person jury, a real rarity he said among film fest juries.

Before "Alexdrie...New York" I saw the South African documentary "John Boorman and the TRC," about a soon to be released Boorman film "Country of My Skull" on The Truth and Reconciliation Commission dealing with victims of apartheid. It will star Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche. It recreates hearings where perpetrators of crimes have to apologize face to face to the victims or relatives of the victims. There is more of man's bestiality on parade here, as former police officers tell of torture (pulling out tongues and cutting off hands) along with the all too graphic details of their murders. Boorman invariably tackles subjects of note and this is no exception.

I can also report on the Kazakhstan film "Schizo" about a teen-aged boy who is a tad schizophrenic, thus his nickname and film's title. And there is more brutality here, something I can't seem to escape from since that outrageous, but very artful, Italian documentary on World War I that started my day yesterday. Bare-fisted, no holds-barred fighting in a ring is the prime entertainment in the small city this film is set in. There is significant money at stake
in these fights and Schizo, with some conniving, manages to come away with a hunk of it, getting him into trouble. There are tender moments, somewhat balancing the roughness and toughness. This was a commendable effort from the young woman director Guka Omarova.

Later, George

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