Cannes 12am (May 18)
It’s almost day three here…
IT IS A LITTLE more than 24 hours since we were on the Red Carpet here for the Opening film of the Cannes Film Festival, ‘Jeanne Du Barry’ (May 16) and it already feels like it’s been a week…
That’s generally the experience for anyone here – not just media or anyone involved in the festival professionally – time literally goes whoosh.
We have never covered an Opening Film here before – not as just asianculturevulture – any way.
We were high up on the very final level with the important folks – just kidding!
It was an amazing area to be in – so much was going on beyond just the red carpet – in our little section and in a corner, were the gallery directors selecting the best camera shots from several cameras – including the crane (or jib) which sits high over the central area of the red carpet itself – and relaying those pictures back over the big screens nearby.
There’s quite an atmosphere – look to the right from our camera vantage point and you will see the public area – in front is strictly controlled and monitored – there is some public space but there are barriers and often they are filled hours ahead of an actual red carpet.
Just below us is the red carpet compere – sadly (for us anyway), the commentary is in French and the Opening Film Red Carpet Gala is relayed on French television. It is hard to follow and only occasionally can you pick out a name – ie Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones – we missed the Indian delegation as they arrived, but did catch Sara Ali Khan and Fagun Thakrar. And as is customary the four juries connected to the four different official sections all walked the Red Carpet, among them Meenakshi Shedde from India. She is one of the jury members on the Semaine De La Critique (Critics’ Week) which is reserved for first and second time feature directors. She chatted to us about her jury duties, independent cinema, the big screen versus the little and the state of filmmaking across theSouth Asian region – she is a film curator for both Berlinale and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – an appointment that came this year, while her role at Berlin has racked up 25 years! Expect that video to be out later this week.
Earlier today, the India Pavilion opened – with its usual contrast – what other pavilion can muster such star power – it wasn’t quite on the scale of last year (with seven heavy hitters) but Sara Ali Khan, Urvashi Rautela, Esha Gupta and Manushi Chhillar and Oscar winner Guneet Monga is not bad.
We are talking of a combined following in hundreds of millions. We kid you not. Not all of them spoke but Khan, the daughter of Bollywood icon Saif Ali Khan, delivered an eloquent address, picking up on the need of Indian filmmakers to continue to tell their stories on a global stage.
Earlier India’s ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf and minister of information and broadcasting L Murugan (wearing a beautiful traditional South Indian mundu) spoke of India’s pride at its filmmaking industry and how much further it could still go.
Monga fresh from her success at the Oscars with her short, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ spoke briefly – Gupta right at the end as folks were dispersing and just after Vijay Varma, another well-known Indian actor who joined the panel a little later. (We will have our video on this out soon! Keep following!)
It was far from slick but the essential message was clear as they unveiled a poster and video for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and the country’s official (and government-run) film festival, traditionally hosted in November in Goa. We covered 2018 and 2019 and have not been back since the pandemic.
More generally, much of the first segment of this festival has been about the opening film ‘Jeanne Du Barry’ and Johnny Depp. Whatever you think about all that, it’s fair to say Cannes is making noise – is the world listening?
The next few days as more films and their entourages roll into town will tell (it is only the end of day two)..and it will feel like the world is trying to fit into this small city when Harrison Ford and the latest instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise lands up here later today (May 18) with The Dial of Destiny. Hold onto to your berets!
Sailesh Ram (editor www.asianculturevulture.com)