Miss N

The 66th Cannes Film Festival – and my 7th.

Cannes Film Festival

In one of life’s little full circles, I just got to interview Mark Ruffalo in New Orleans about his latest movie, Now You See Me. Exactly 7 years ago, he starred in the film Zodiac, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, which premiered at the 60th Cannes Film Festival. That also happened to be my first time covering the fest. I remember sitting in the press conference where Mark and Jake spoke about the David Fincher film, thinking how grateful I was to have made it to the south of France for the ‘grande dame’ of film festivals.  

In those 7 years since, Ruffalo has been nominated for an Oscar (for The Kids are Alright), become an outspoken voice against fracking and turned into the Incredible Hulk. I may not have been picked up an Oscar nod or such (and as much as I channel Wonder Woman, that’s as far as it goes) but I’m currently living my dream in New York City, so I haven’t fared too badly over the past that time either…

It’s still mind-blowing though, to think it’s been 7 years since I first covered the festival. Back then I was able to party at Jean Claude van Damme’s soiree and still wake up at 6am to go stand in line to get a seat for the early morning film screening the next day. That balance requires a little more art now that I’m older (oh, so old!) and yet I’m still as thrilled as the first time around. It’s just that now there’s a familiarity to the surroundings, plus I know where to go to get my favourite pain au chocolats.

David Kibuuka and I with Quincy Jones, Cannes in 2007.
David Kibuuka and I with Quincy Jones, Cannes 2007.

This year, with the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, I’m really excited Steven Spielberg is heading the jury. In 2008, my second fest, he brought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (along with dozens of Harrison Ford-style fedoras) to the Palais des Festivals. It’ll be interesting to hear what he and his jury-mates will be looking for in the awarding the Palme d’Or this year – will he lean more towards the historical, period films, or will he go for the fantastical à la ET or Indiana Jones?

Among those joining him on the jury are Christoph Waltz, who just won his second Oscar this year, and Ang Lee, the man who beat out Spielberg for best director this year, as well as Nicole Kidman and director Lynne Ramsay. The winner of the Palme d’Or last year, Amour, directed by Michael Haneke, went on to win the Oscar for best foreign language film.

Some of the films I’m looking forward to seeing over the next few days…

* Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

* Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, starring Ryan Gosling.

* Alexander Payne’s latest one Nebraska, shot in black and white.

* Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, starring British actress Tilda Swinton.

* The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, with John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.

* The Past from Asghar Farhadi, who gave us A Separation.

As always, I’ll be blogging and tweeting through it all, as well as posting videos to my YouTube. And, as always, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the South Africans taking part, thanks to the National Film and Video Foundation, which has helped me get to Cannes again this time. A record number of South African filmmakers are taking part this year – 150 – and perhaps among them, we may find the next Gavin Hood or Terry Pheto.

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