It’s been a whirlwind two weeks at the Cannes film festival 2022, where dreams definitely came true for some at the awards ceremony on Saturday night. As winners' names were read out, those who had seen the films whooped with joy, while others sighed, disappointed at not having placed the “winning bet”.
Covering Cannes is like going to the “casino of cinema” – from the moment the official selection is released in April, the roulette wheel begins to spin and all bets are on.
I admit to being disappointed that I hadn't seen the Palme d’Or “Triangle of Sadness” by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund. A colleague told me he thought it stood a good chance of a prize but I chose to focus on other films and ran out of time. Oops.
French actor Vincent Lindon, who headed up the jury, also wished he'd had more time.
In his speech he jokingly called for his mandate to be extended, saying one festival was not enough.
His elegantly phrased observation “let’s be reasonable and ask for the impossible…we need four more years,” was met with appreciative laughter.
Win some, lose some
When “Stars at Noon” by Claire Denis, was announced as one of the two films to share the Grand Prize, I got a buzz seeing as I had interviewed her earlier in the week.
But as I hadn’t seen the second prize “Close” by Belgian director Lukas Dhont, I was left wondering what I'd missed.
Best director went to South Korea's Park Chan-wook, a hot favourite with “bookies” and the majority of the people RFI spoke to. Phew! I saw his odd romantic detective story “Decision to Leave” and it's a thrill to say my "first Park" was a winner at Cannes.
I very much enjoyed “Broker” for which Song Kang-ho was named Best Actor. The Korean was all smiles as he came on stage to receive his prize for his role in the quirky family adoption drama by previous Palme d’Or winner Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t mention the other winners here …I didn’t see these films and have nothing except gossip to share.
Let’s be honest, with only 24 hours in a day (and minimum sleep required!), how can you fit in 24 films from the main competition, especially when many are by veteran Cannes entrants?
On top of that, how can you fit in the exciting, exotic parallel events such as Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics week plus a few beachside parties as well? Sssh, don’t tell the boss about that last bit even if it does provide for interesting research.
Apart from the name of the directors, cast, film location and a brief synopsis, there's very little information to go on prior to the festival, much of it kept “secret” intentionally to build suspense.
Once the two weeks of the festival get underway, word starts to spread, the critics’ ratings emerge, trailers hit the internet and there are the personal favourites from professionals and amateurs. The wheel spins ever faster…
With only a few days before the closing ceremony, journalists madly rush around trying to tie up loose ends and see the films they think might win something, so they have an opinion and material for an article.
I had to bail out and go for a swim as my brain was fried by day 10!
Things don’t always work out as planned. Interviews are hoped for, scheduled and sometimes cancelled. Everyone walks away with a list of films to see later on once they’re released in cinemas. Or not. Maybe that’s for the best. That’s part of the fun of Cannes.
Although I enjoyed the main competition, the highlight of this 75th edition of Cannes was being able to see so many documentaries. From South Sudan, to Ukraine, via the streets of French cities, I was transported around the world to better understand the challenges people face and how they handle them.
Who knows, perhaps as one person suggested, the “best film” at Cannes in terms of box office and popularity might well be “Top Gun: Maverick”, with Tom Cruise, shown out of competition during the first week.
But Cannes is not really about the box office or audience ratings. Rather it's a risky business based on passion (the casino metaphor seems to fit nicely here again) with no guarantee of the outcome.
Millions of dollars, hundreds of people, years of work and tireless publicity…all that for a couple of hours in a dark room and maybe a happy customer at the end. Vive la France! Vive le cinema!