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June 2002

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Cannes 2002

55th Cannes Film Festival

May 15 - 26

 

Rita Sinha

GlobalomNet Media Service

The Festival de Cannes was one of the main international media events of the year, with 4,000 accredited journalists - over 50% from the international press - and over 1,500 media from approximately 75 countries. 

The festival also celebrated its 55th edition with choice first-time offerings. One is its Seaside Cinema with a huge open air screen on the Cannes beach, adjoining the main festival complex. Here select festival films were screened for film buffs against a picturesque seafront.

Another highlight of the film fest was celebrated Cannes officio, Gilles Jacob’s compilation in half-hour segments of the festival’s golden moments in its five decades of existence. These segments punctuated main festival screenings, started on the opening night itself.

The 55th Cannes Film Festival opened with accolades for the reclusive Woody Allen, who at age 66, attended Cannes for the first time, thrilling organizers who gave him a lifetime achievement award given only once in the past - to Ingmar Bergman.


Charlie Chaplin 

 
 Geraldine Chaplin


Woody Allen

Allen is a cult filmmaker in France and his films have been screened consistently at Cannes. When asked why he made the exception, he said that he has always been aware of France’s support and recognition of artists such as jazz players, painters and filmmakers from the US, and he felt that he should finally reciprocate, specially as his film ends with a bow to France for this very fact. He was overwhelmed by his fan following. Modest, quiet and thoughtful at the press conference, he fielded every question with care and got the festival off to a grand start.

Geraldine Chaplin flew in to preside over a tribute being paid to her father, Charles Chaplin.

Finally and by way of high honour, Indian filmmaker Murali Nair was on this year’s Camera d’Or jury. Nair has been a regular frontliner in Cannes ever since his short film Tragedy Of An Indian Farmer competed in 1996. Three years later, he won the Camera d’Or for his Throne Of Death. Now he is on the jury chair instrumental in handing out the prize to this year’s hopefuls.

Awards given Sunday at the 55th Cannes Film Festival, selected by a nine-member jury headed by U.S. director David Lynch:

Palme d'Or (Golden Palm): The Pianist, Roman Polanski, Poland-France

-Grand Prize: The Man Without a Past, Aki Kaurismaki, Finland

-Jury Prize: Divine Intervention, Elia Suleiman, Palestinian

 -Jury Prize - Ex for short film: A Very Very Silent Film, India, Manish Jha

 

A Very Very Silent Film

The short film, previously shown at 15th Singapore International Film Festival in April 2002, won Jury Prize – Ex for short film.

A debut piece by 23-year old Manish Jha, this powerful and terse film silently hits home with the message of social ills that plague the lives of poverty-stricken women. In its narrative, one more homeless woman has died on the street, after a life of probable mental and physical exploitation. Jha states perhaps in her death, the exploitation has come to an end, however, this is not the case.

Spotlight on India

At the Cannes film festival, spotlight was turned on India, an acceptance of Bollywood having come of age. A tribute was paid to Bollywood with a leading hotel foyer dressed up to look like a Bollywood set with stills, posters, silks and satins.

Even though India is the biggest film producer in the world, Indian films have rarely made an appearance at Cannes. Variety’s Derek Elley carried an exclusive piece headlined “Bollywood adds spice to the festival” referring to the showing of Indian films this year.

The festival paid a tribute to Raj Kapoor, late doyen of the Hindi film industry, screening Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949) and Awaara (1951). This was perhaps the first time that Cannes honoured a dead filmmaker.

During her trip last year, Sushma Swaraj, Information and Broadcasting minister, had held extensive discussions with the Cannes organizers about raising the profile of Indian participation at the Cannes film festival. The idea to hold a tribute-cum-retrospective of Kapoor was first discussed during the visit.                                     

                                                             


Sushma Swaraj

Randhir Kapoor

Deepa Mehta

Mira Nair

An India party was organised at the Carlton Hotel to welcome Randhir Kapoor, representative of the Raj Kapoor tribute.

And two members of the Kapoor clan, who are also the most popular names in the Indian industry today — Karisma and Kareena Kapoor — will represent Raj Kapoor on the famous Montees des Marches, where the personality being honored walks up red-carpeted steps to receive his award.

The Indian Government sponsored a much bigger pavilion at the festival. A string of  Indian cultural and cuisine events have been organized to bring the Indian flavor to Cannes.

India was also present in a big way at the festival. A record number of Indian film industry professionals turned up at Cannes this year, for marketing their films at the world’s largest buyer-seller meeting for the film industry.

For the first time since 1964, Bollywood productions were shown in Cannes. Mukta Arts Ltd’s Taal was screened at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20. Also shown was Yash-Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas – a remake of the classic drama Devdas - was India's main offering at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

There were two Indian shorts in competition as well. In addition to Manish Jha’s modest 16mm A Very, Very Silent Film, in the main competition, there was, in the Student section, Tridib Poddar’s short film, Khoj.

Commenting on Mukta Arts participation at the festival, Subhash Ghai said, “Cannes is an opportunity to showcase our cinema with our sensibility to the world market.”

Besides the NFDC screenings of the latest Indian films, which included Mrinal Sen’s This, My Land. Leading the pack and a real winner of a film is Bend It Like Beckham, which was received with a lot of enthusiasm at its very first market screenings, with kudos handed out to director Gurinder Chadha and producer Deepak Nayar

Other films premiered in the market were: Deepa Mehta’s new film, Bollywood/ Hollywood starring Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Moushami Chatterjee and Dina Pathak. Mira Nair’s Hysterical Blindness has had several screenings as also the UK offering, Bollywood Queen being marketed by Arclight Films.

India's Information minister, Sushma Swaraj, was at Cannes to  promote what could be an extremely lucrative export industry.

She says Cannes is a very important festival for film-makers because it allowed other countries in Europe and Latin America to get a flavour of what is being produced in India.

The Indian promotion at the festival goes far beyond just trying to sell Indian films abroad, says Pawan Chopra, another member of the Indian delegation to Cannes.

"We are looking at a huge new industry which caters not only to the domestic market we also want to invite foreign film-makers to participate, even in producing Indian films," said Mr Chopra.

"They can produce their own films if they like, they could produce Indian films for foreign markets, they could just use our locations, they could use our other skills which we offer at much lower rates than elsewhere in the world."

There are reports that two co-production deals have already been signed for Hollywood screenwriters to work on films with an Indian theme - so even before the curtain goes up on this year's big picture, the mood in the Indian pavilion at Cannes is buoyant.