Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cannes and the Palme d'Or

Yes, it is the merry month of May and what does that mean to we film fans? It means the Cannes Film Festival! The festival is running from May 16th to May 27th this year. As an added bit of celebrity watching, the Independent Film Channel is sponsoring a Cannes Cam
so you can watch all the red carpet shenanigans from the comfort of your own home.

The most prestigious award given out at Cannes is the Palme d'Or ("Golden Palm") for the best film. The film is selected by the jury of the festival, made up of a small international selection of movie professionals. Some of the past Palme d’Or winners are alive and well and living on DVD at (or soon to be at) HBPL. Taxi Driver, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, The Pianist and sex, lies and videotape are all well-known winners of the past. But have you seen Missing, Secrets & Lies or L’enfant (the Child)?

not only won the Palme d’Or in 1982 but its star, Jack Lemmon, was selected as the Best Actor at Cannes that year. Deservedly so! He puts in a powerful and moving performance of a father whose son goes missing in a South American country during civil unrest. (This DVD is now available at HBPL).

Secrets & Lies
The amazing Brenda Blethyn heads the cast of this 1996 Palme d’Or winner. Once again, while the film took the top prize, Ms. Blethyn was the Best Actress that year at Cannes. Her co-star, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (better known for her time as Vivian Johnson on “Without a Trace”) plays a successful black woman that traces her birth mother to a lower-class white woman (Blethyn). What follows is a touching tale full of, you guessed it, secrets, oh yes, and lies! (Available at HBPL).

L’enfant (The Child)
This 2005 winner of the Palme d’Or is currently available on DVD at HBPL. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's heartbreaking film follows the repercussions of a disastrous decision. Twenty year old Bruno, who lives an “in the moment” existence on the streets of an industrial town in Belgium, sells his newborn child to an adoption ring for a large bundle of cash. Is the “child” in this film the newborn baby or does it reflect the immaturity of the father? This is not an easy film to experience but one that, once seen, will be unforgettable.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley, the 2006 Palme d’Or winner, is currently playing in limited release in southern California. It should be available on DVD in July or August of this year. What film will take this prize for 2007? We will just have to wait (in the dark of a movie theater) and see.